Public questions have been submitted for this meeting and can be found in Appendix 4.
Mr Dhillon advised that, in future, the work programme would be a standing item on the agenda and public questions would normally relate to an agenda item. As the agenda was published after the deadline for questions to be submitted, Mr Dhillon stated he had agreed that the following three questions could be raised. The questions were read out by Kelly Sutherland, Committee and Governance Manager; Mr Mark Shaw, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services provided the responses.
What provisions had the Council put in place that supported children who were not able to access respite care as facilities were currently closed? When would respite centres open again?
Since the start of Covid-19, the service had sought to balance the overwhelming need to reduce the risk of infection for children, young people and adults and provide services in line with our statutory duties. Respite care for children with additional needs and their parents had continued throughout this period of time, although it had had to change. Initially, overnight respite care was not safe to provide; however, this was now available albeit in a limited capacity and designed around the need to reduce the risk of infection. Overnight respite care was subject to continual review.
Was the Council now able to continue their statutory duties on timescales from 25 September 2020 under the Children’s Act?
The Council had regular, and at least weekly, contact with colleagues from the Department of Education to discuss service delivery in the context of Covid-19. We, as a Council, remained confident that we would continue to be able to meet statutory expectations.
How had the Council allocated the extra catch-up funding it received for education from Government for the Covid-19 pandemic?
On 19 June 2020, the government announced £1 billion additional funding to help England's children catch up on what they had missed while schools had been closed. The funding was for the 2020-21 academic year and was split into two amounts:
- £650 million Universal Catch Up Premium.
· £350 million National Tutoring Programme to support the most disadvantaged pupils.
Universal Catch Up Premium:
· This funding was available for all state funded mainstream and special schools, alternative provision and independent special schools to support all pupils in the 2020-21 academic year. The funding would be allocated directly to schools and the Council did not have any discretion in the allocation.
· For mainstream schools funding would be allocated at £80 per pupil.
· For special schools and alternative provision funding would be allocated at £240 per place.
· Schools had the flexibility to spend their funding in the best way for their cohort and circumstances.
· Based on the last school census it was estimated that the amount to be allocated across Buckinghamshire schools (including academies) would be approximately £6.4m.
National Tutoring Programme (NTP)
This funding was to provide additional, targeted support for those children and young people who needed the most help. The NTP was a more structured programme where schools purchased 15-hour blocks of tuition from accredited providers, with the school paying 15% of the cost and 85% of the cost being met by the NTP. The programme would launch in November and schools would need to apply for funding.