Agenda and minutes

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Contact: Katie Dover 


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No. Item


Apologies for Absence

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Apologies were received from Councillors Collingwood,  Gaster, James, Jones and Turner.


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 Bates – Chair of Governors

Councillor Kayani – On the Senior Leadership Team of Bourne End Academy and Chair of the Dyspraxia Foundation


Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 430 KB

The minutes of the meeting held on 24th June 2021 be confirmed as a correct record.

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The minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 24th June were reviewed.


RESOLVED:  that the minutes of the Select Committee meeting held on 24th June be AGREED as an accurate record and signed by the Chairman.


The Chairman noted the following:

(i)                  Corporate Parenting training would be available on 10th September and that all Councillors were welcome to attend.

(ii)                An agenda working group had been held prior to this committee meeting to have an initial discussion around the items being reported to this meeting.

(iii)              That invitations had been extended to the Catholic and Church of England diocese for a representative from each to become co-optees on this committee. The Chairman also noted that the process of inviting nominations for parent governor co-optees from the primary, secondary and special school sectors was underway.



Public Questions

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There were no public questions.


Emotional Health in Schools pdf icon PDF 773 KB

The Committee will consider a report outlining the significant amount of work undertaken in relation to the emotional health of Buckinghamshire’s school pupils, particularly in the light of the Covid pandemic.


The report gives details of current issues, the profile of need, current work underway in schools and steps for the future.



Richard Nash, Corporate Director Children’s Services

Simon James, Service Director Education

Elizabeth Biggs, Public Health Principal

Gareth Drawmer, Head of Achievement & Learning

Dr Tim Jones, Principal Educational Psychologist

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Councillor Birchley welcomed the Cabinet Member for Education and Children’s Services, Mrs Anita Cranmer, Mr Richard Nash, Corporate Director for Children’s Services, Mr Simon James, Service Director, Education and Mr Gareth Drawmer, Head of Achievement and Learning to the meeting. In addition they were joined by Dr Tim James, Principal Psychologist and Ms Elizabeth Biggs, Public Health Principal.


Councillor Cranmer thanked the Select Committee for bringing this report on emotional health in schools to the committee, noting that this was an extremely important subject particularly as it had been made more critical by the Covid-19 pandemic.  This report focussed on the work undertaken by schools but it was noted that many agencies contributed to the emotional support of children.


There had been many challenges for Buckinghamshire children during the lockdown periods, and as restrictions were lifted it was hoped that children would return to more normality. Work to support children during the pandemic had been both broad and extensive. Having time away from school was noted to be detrimental to children and the service had put in place a wide range of programmes to assist children.


Richard Nash thanked Elizabeth Biggs, Gareth Drawmer and Dr Tim James for their work. It was noted that the service had been pro-active in their support of schools during the pandemic.


Simon James considered the work in schools and with partner agencies to meet the educational and emotional needs of children in schools.  Both current and future work was detailed. The pandemic had led to new issues and made existing issues worse. 1 in 6 children has had emotional issues, exacerbated by school closures. Mr James outlined the current range of support programmes for schools including mental health support teams, provision of senior mental health leads, a robust return to school programme, the Anna Freud Centre link programme, and in-school training. It was noted that specific support to schools had been provided with regards to managing critical incidents. A new group has been set up to co-ordinate this support activity with four areas of focus; evidence based, work monitored, right support at the right time and evaluation of all new programmes. The outcomes of this work were outlined including how to refer to agencies, pupils provided with early support and staff support for own emotional needs.


In response to a question, Simon James noted that during the pandemic the partnership with schools had strengthened and the work detailed in the report would be for the longer term. The emotional health agenda was now mainstream and prioritised in schools. Dr Jones noted that communication links with schools which were initiated during the pandemic had aided the implementation of  programmes  such as senior leads for mental health in schools which would be rolled out nationally and continued at a strategic level. School liaison groups now had a framework which would continue to be used.


Simon James noted that needs analysis information was reported into the department, and live intelligence was gained weekly from both headteachers and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Closing the Attainment Gap in Buckinghamshire pdf icon PDF 906 KB

The Committee will consider a report giving details of the current attainment gap in schools, the Buckinghamshire versus national levels; key actions to address the gap and the delivery plan for the next academic year.




Richard Nash, Corporate Director Children’s Services

Simon James, Service Director – Education

Gareth Drawmer, Head of Achievement and Learning.

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The Chairman noted that Buckinghamshire was known for its high standards of education but closing the attainment gap for those disadvantaged was a priority for the service.


Councillor Cranmer reported this was a long-standing issue, and that the Covid pandemic had made the situation worse.  The report gave details of the size of the gap in the different age groups and the actions being taken to close it. The strengthening of the partnership working between schools and the council during the pandemic was very positive. The service would continue to support schools to help children achieve their potential.


Richard Nash noted that the report highlights that the service is in a good place to narrow the gap. The Buckinghamshire Challenge Board noted that the council has been working on reducing the gap for several years.


Simon James reported that the focus was on the attainment gap between the disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged children in Buckinghamshire over the assessed points of key stage 2, GCSE stage and early years. Data was available up to 2019 and some indicative data was available for 2020. Headteachers and local authority officers and were working well collaboratively on the Buckinghamshire Challenge Board. The board had agreed five evidence-based approaches to target work to the most in-need pupils, focussing on inclusive teaching, issue assessment and the evaluation of intervention. Five outcomes were focussed on namely; the maintenance of the gap from 2019, a target of at least 90 % of schools to access training, 100% of schools to access to focus sessions, aiming for a reduction in the gap of ½% by 2023 across all age groups and to support schools further over the next few years.


The gap slightly narrows as children become older, illustrating how interventions benefit the children.


In response to a question, it was noted that school attendance was good across the pandemic and where attendance is lower than should be, the attendance team are on hand to encourage parents to return children to school. Schools are keen to persist in getting the children in school. There are 101 children who are electively home schooled in the county.

Gareth Drawmer noted the teams on-going hard work to increase attendance. Many schools develop their own resources. Sanctions are in place if required. The team worked closely with the Department of Education for example on the issue of  children who went abroad last March and have not returned  to school here as yet.

A Member enquired as to how the department directs attention to those more highly disadvantaged and it was noted that the definition of disadvantaged was those looked after by the local authority, those adopted and those accessing free school meals. 38% of children were in the BME category and 18% were children whose first language was not English. The latter can access extra support for the language issue.


Focus schools were defined by three criteria across the range of schools. The “Quality First Teaching” programme aimed to empower teachers to be the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Work Programme 2021-2022 pdf icon PDF 671 KB

The Committee will consider the draft work programme for the municipal year 2021-2022. There will be an opportunity to discuss areas of the programme which might be considered for more detailed work.

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The Senior Scrutiny Officer introduced the Select Committee’s work programme for the forthcoming year.


It was noted that a piece of work could be chosen for a more in-depth investigation, via either a rapid review group or a more in-depth inquiry.


Suggestions for further in-depth work would be taken into consideration in due course.  It was noted that the deadline for receiving public questions to the committee was the day upon which the agenda was published. It was suggested that the work programme should be attached to the published minutes to enable the public to have an opportunity to see which items would come to which meeting.


The outcomes of the SEND consultation would be reported back to the November committee. A member of FACT Bucks could be invited to the committee to illustrate the parents’ position within this agenda.


The Chairman requested that committee members come back to herself and the Senior Scrutiny Officer with any other ideas.



 (i) the recruitment and retention of social workers could be the subject of a rapid review group and

(ii) The Educations Standards report would be added to the forward work programme  and would include feedback from the Buckinghamshire Challenge Board.







Date of the Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Children’s and Education Select Committee will be held on 11th November 2021 at 2.00 p.m. at The Gateway, Buckinghamshire Council.

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The date of the next meeting of the Select Committee would be Thursday 11th November 2021 at 2.00 p.m.