Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: The Oculus, Buckinghamshire Council, Gatehouse Road, Aylesbury HP19 8FF. View directions

Contact: Katie Dover 


Webcast: View the webcast

No. Item


Chairman's Welcome and Introduction

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Councillor Birchley welcomed the Committee Members to the first meeting of the Select Committee for the 2020/21 municipal year and the Committee Members introduced themselves. The Chairman noted her aim was that the Committee would work alongside the Council’s Officers to support them in their work, helping to provide children’s and education services to Buckinghamshire.


Appointment of Vice-Chairman

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The Chairman appointed Councillor Mark Dormer as the Vice-Chairman of the Children’s Services and Education Select Committee for the 2020/21 municipal year.


RESOLVED: That Councillor Mark Dormer be appointed as Vice-Chairman of the Children’s Services and Education Select Committee for the 2020/21 municipal year.


Apologies for Absence/Changes in Membership

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It was noted that Councillors Bates, Gaster, Hussein and Kayani had given their apologies for the meeting.


It was noted that Councillor Stuchbury was attending as a substitute for Councillors Bates and Kayani.


Declarations of Interest

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The following declarations of interest were made:

Councillor Matthews – School Governor and Volunteer at a Charity “Transitions UK”

Councillor Blamires – parent of a SEND child and works in a school

Councillor James – school governor

Councillor Adoh – school governor

Councillor Summers – school governor


Minutes of the Previous Meetings pdf icon PDF 430 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the Select Committee meetings held on 4th March and 26th May 2021.

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The minutes of the meetings of the Committee held on 4th March and 26th May 2021 were reviewed.  Councillor Stuchbury noted that a detailed conversation that he had on the subject of Ofsted was not included in the March minutes, although it would be viewable on the webcast of that meeting.


RESOLVED: that the minutes of the meetings held on 4th March and 26th May be AGREED as an accurate record and signed by the Chairman.


Priorities for the Year Ahead pdf icon PDF 165 KB

The Committee will receive a report from the Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services on priorities for the year ahead.



Cllr Anita Cranmer, Cabinet Member for Education & Children’s Services

Mr Richard Nash, Corporate Director for Children’s Services

Mr Simon James, Service Director for Education

Ms Palvinder Kudhail, Interim Service Director for Children’s Services

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Councillor Cranmer introduced the priorities for the Children’s Services and Education Select Committee for this municipal year, noting that there are 84,000 children in Buckinghamshire and that the council’s services for them covered many different areas of work.


Mr Richard Nash, Corporate Director for Children’s Services, introduced both service Directors; Palvinder Kudhail for Children’s Social Care and Simon James for Education. Mr Nash noted that Children’s Services is heavily regulated through the work of Ofsted, the registration of children’s homes and in terms of special education and disability inspections.

Palvinder Kudhail, noted that the priorities for the Children’s Social Care service area were as follows:


-          Service Improvement; ensuring that quality of front-line services impacts positively on outcomes for children.  Quality assurance was highlighted with a focus on implementing various quality assurance activities and learning from them.

-          Responding to the growing demands on the service as a result of COVID 19. For example; there had been a 24% increase in contacts referred from partner agencies since last year and a 47% increase in contacts that resulted in referrals.

-          Recruitment and retention of social workers.  This is a national and local issue. The focus is on reducing the agency workforce via various mechanisms such as the social work academy and media campaigns.

-          Recruitment of in-house foster carers. The number of looked after children has increased and those looked after by foster carers.


Simon James, Service Director for Education outlined the service priorities as follows:


-          SEND delivery and improvements; noting that the area is subject to inspections by Ofsted and CQC. 85% of all new assessments are completed within 20 weeks where the national average is 65%.  Children with education, health and care plans; increasing quality assurance and audit work to ensure plans are received quickly and are of good quality. The focus is on working with families and understanding their needs. Another focus is on transitions into adult services and preparing for adulthood.

-          Improving educational provision and outcomes. 95% of early years providers and 90.3% of schools were noted to be good or outstanding. Schools were being prepared for Ofsted visits. Work had focussed on ensuring that vulnerable children were supported with schooling through lockdowns with good attendance. Focus on narrowing the attainment gap for disadvantaged children. The service was supporting schools on the academic and mental health catch up project. School buildings were being built in Kingsbrook to give 60 primary places and 180 secondary school places. 36 places would be provided for children with mental health issues.

-          Access to Good Mental Health Support – The service is working with Aspire, working with headteachers and with Bucks Mind; some commissioned by community boards. The service was ensuring children were referred quickly. Supervision for headteachers was being provided.

-          Early Help – ensuring children and families have support as soon as it is needed. The interface between early help and children’s social care is assessed weekly. The Early Help strategy is being reassessed and  brings  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Work Programme

An opportunity for Members to discuss possible topics for the future committee work programme.



All Members

Mrs Katie Dover, Senior Scrutiny Officer

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The Senior Scrutiny Officer, Mrs Katie Dover introduced the work programme item. The Committee considered ideas and suggestions for areas of the service’s work to be examined by the Select Committee over the forthcoming municipal year. The following suggestions were made for the work programme:


-          Mental health issues; and how schools and partners work together on these

-          Ofsted – the implementation plan and gaining understanding of the process before and after the inspection.

-          SEND – understanding the range of issues and how all the services work together to help families and the timeframes involved. Possibly a subject for a working party.

-          Transitions, preparing for adulthood for care leavers

-          Fostering and adoption


Mr Nash stressed the need to avoid duplication and to inform Councillors at the outset of discussions as to how far progress had been made on each of these areas of interest.


The suggested items would be brought back as a work programme item to the next meeting of the committee.


Date of Next Meeting

Thursday 16th September 2021 at 2pm in The Oculus, Buckinghamshire Council, The Gateway, Aylesbury

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The date of the next meeting would be Thursday 9th September 2021.