Agenda and minutes

Children and Education Policy and Accountability Committee - Tuesday, 22nd September, 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: Online - Virtual Meeting. View directions

Contact: David Abbott  Email:

Link: View live stream on YouTube

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Lucy Richardson.


Declarations of Interest

If a Councillor has a disclosable pecuniary interest in a particular item, whether or not it is entered in the Authority’s register of interests, or any other significant interest which they consider should be declared in the public interest, they should declare the existence and, unless it is a sensitive interest as defined in the Member Code of Conduct, the nature of the interest at the commencement of the consideration of that item or as soon as it becomes apparent.


At meetings where members of the public are allowed to be in attendance and speak, any Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest or other significant interest may also make representations, give evidence or answer questions about the matter.  The Councillor must then withdraw immediately from the meeting before the matter is discussed and any vote taken.


Where Members of the public are not allowed to be in attendance and speak, then the Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest should withdraw from the meeting whilst the matter is under consideration. Councillors who have declared other significant interests should also withdraw from the meeting if they consider their continued participation in the matter would not be reasonable in the circumstances and may give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest.


Councillors are not obliged to withdraw from the meeting where a dispensation to that effect has been obtained from the Standards Committee. 



The Chair carried out a roll call to confirm attendance. Attendance is listed above. There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 392 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting held on 27 July 2020.


Matters Arising

The Chair noted that updates on actions from the previous meeting had been circulated to members. Tony Burton then gave an update on the financial impact of Covid-19 on Children’s Services.



Nandini Ganesh requested the following amendment to the minutes for item 3 (addition underlined):


“Nandini Ganesh noted that Parentsactive in partnership with the Local Authority ran remote sessions via Zoom with around 130 parents.”



That the minutes of the meeting held on the 27th of July 2020 were approved as an accurate record.


Public Participation

This meeting is being held remotely via Microsoft Teams. If you would like to ask a question about any of the items on the agenda, either via Teams or in writing, please contact:


You can watch the meeting live on YouTube:


No public questions were received.


The formation of the Gangs, Violence & Exploitation Unit pdf icon PDF 632 KB

This report provides an overview of the of H&F’s new Gangs, Violence and Exploitation Unit. It outlines progress resourcing the team, the developing operating model and the work it intends to undertake within the wider council and strategic partnerships to reduce the harm caused to young people who are at risk from gangs, violence and other forms of exploitation.


Matthew Hooper introduced the report and noted that over the past 18 months the borough had seen an increase in serious youth violence, largely attributed to organised gang activity. In response to this, the Council made a decision in June 2020 to create a new gangs unit made up of gangs workers, anti-social behaviour coordinators, police officers, and analytical and research capacity.


Gideon Springer gave a presentation and the following key points were noted:

·       The priorities for the unit were to keep people safe, prevent young people from being victimised and exploited by organised criminals, and tackle the fear of crime.

·       H&F would fund Police Officers to work with specialist council staff to bring the full weight of criminal legislation to bear on gangs and gang leaders operating in the borough.

·       The unit would deliver initiatives to engage with and divert vulnerable young people away from gangs, violence and exploitation.

·       The unit consisted of 11 H&F employed officers and 6 Metropolitan Police Officers (17 FTEs). The total annual cost of the unit was £983,000.


Councillor Mark Loveday noted that the committee had held a meeting on serious youth violence in November 2018 and at that time members were told that the borough was ranked fairly low for serious youth violence in London. He asked if the picture had really changed so much in two years. Matthew Hooper explained that the killing of a young man in 2019 had led to a number of revenge attacks and killings between rival gangs.


Councillor Loveday asked what the 11 FTEs in the new gangs unit would be doing differently to what was being done before. Gideon Springer said it was more an issue of capacity. The Youth Offending team have had some challenges with the number of young people who are repeat offenders. The unit wanted to spend more time with them, work with them in a trauma informed way, and intervene earlier (at 11 or 12 years old).


Councillor Loveday asked officers to clarify if the gangs unit posts were entirely new posts or if they were posts transferred from the Youth Offending team. Matthew Hooper said the 11 new posts would be doing additional work over and above the statutory work of the Youth Offending team.


Councillor Loveday asked how the new posts were being funded. Matthew Hooper said funding for the team was from an aggregation of S106 funds allocated for community safety.


Councillor Loveday asked what the metrics for success were. Matthew Hooper said there were some metrics in 3.1 and 3.2 of the report. Councillor Loveday felt the targets were too broad and commented that without clear targets the Council couldn’t effectively monitor the unit’s performance.


Eleanor Allen asked how the Covid-19 pandemic had impacted the way they worked with young people. Gideon Springer said police statistics had shown that certain types of crimes had increased during the lockdown. Youth Offending Service and Children’s Services colleagues had changed their operating model due to the pandemic.


Councillor  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Update on the sKIDS Study - Covid-19 in Schools pdf icon PDF 214 KB

This item provides an overview of a national Covid-19 study from Public Health England that five of H&F’s primary schools are taking part in.


Dr Nicola Lang, Director of Public Health, presented the report and the following points were noted:

·       Five of the borough’s primary schools took part in the study – selected because over three quarters of the pupils were BAME.

·       Public Health England commended the borough on the speed that it signed up schools to the study.

·       The testing consisted of a swab and blood test.

·       At the time of reporting, all schools had negative tests.


Dr Lang informed the committee that taking part in the study contributed to the national evidence which informed the thinking of the National Medical Officer – specifically that schools were considered low risk settings. She added the caveat that schools mirrored community outcomes – so as cases rose in the community it followed that cases would rise in schools, but community outbreaks weren’t driven by infections in schools.


Dr Lang noted that the borough had been offered places for secondary schools on ‘sKIDS plus’ with two schools already signed up.


Councillor Mark Loveday thanked Dr Lang for the excellent work that had been done over recent months. He asked if there had been any positive swabs since the study had concluded. Dr Lang said there had been a small number of positive tests which was to be expected as cases rose in the wider community. Schools reflected the national picture.


Councillor Larry Culhane (Cabinet Member for Children and Education) thanked Dr Lang and the Public Health team for being a ‘huge friend to schools’. He noted that most schools in the borough had stayed open throughout the pandemic to educate the children of key workers and vulnerable children. The Public Health team had been a huge support to them and a credit to the borough.


Councillor Alexandra Sanderson said it was humbling to see how many people have worked so hard to make sure children could get their education. She asked if officers were anticipating a lag in testing in October. Dr Lang said there shouldn’t be a lag as they had moved to a new digital system.


Matt Jenkins asked if the Council had any way to provide PPE to disadvantaged students given schools didn’t have the budget for it. Dr Lang said there wasn’t a need for children to wear PPE in schools, unless they had certain specific needs, due to the social distancing measures in place. She regularly met with headteachers and said they hadn’t raised it as an issue.


Mandy Lawson noted that the SEND team had been working very closely with schools since the beginning of the pandemic. They have provided guidance to schools and worked with special schools on PPE requirements as they required an enhanced level of PPE. She added that the Council did have a mechanism to support schools with PPE through its supply chains if required.



The Chair thanked Dr Lang and the Public Health team for their hard work.



Supporting young people’s emotional wellbeing in H&F during lockdown and beyond pdf icon PDF 273 KB

This item gives an overview of the impact of lockdown on young people’s wellbeing and the support available.


Mandy Lawson (AD SEND) presented the report with Ayesha Janju (CCG, Children’s Commissioning) and Satwinder Saraon (SEND Development) and the following points were noted:

·       National data from ‘Young Minds’ showed that the pandemic had a significant impact on young people’s mental health.

·       Hammersmith and Fulham had a multi-tiered set of services that catered to young people with a variety of needs. Some of these services were delivered through community grants, some were paid for by the Council, some were commissioned jointly, and some were delivered or commissioned by the NHS.

·       Through the pandemic, mental health services had been prioritising higher priority urgent referrals – managing those young people deemed most at risk.

·       The Youth Council had been producing youth focused communications on Covid-19.

·       Services were now focused on normalising delivery as much as possible, using a mix of remote technology and in-person contacts.


Mandy Lawson noted that the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) taking place at the moment would provide a much richer set of data about the borough’s mental health needs.


Nandini Ganesh asked if most of the services went up to 18. Mandy Lawson said most went to 18. There was a Mencap transition worker to resolve issues in transition from Children’s Services to Adult Social Care.


Nandini Ganesh asked if the programmes highlighted, like Trailblazers, were time limited. Ayesha Janju said Trailblazers had only been running for a short while and the Covid-19 pandemic had delayed some of their plans to expand. But they wanted to improve access to these programmes – they were running seminars with GPs to increase awareness. A plan was in action to help them meet their targets.


Nandini Ganesh made the point that after the pandemic is over, support for mental health will be key. She asked if Family Support and H&F Mind had the requisite expertise in SEN. Ayesha Janju said, currently, the mental health support teams didn’t have enough SEN experience. They have requested that NHS England put workers in place to tackle more specialisms though like neuro-divergent people and SEN. Mandy Lawson added that a complex behaviour support service was being developed for children with autism and learning disabilities.


Councillor Mark Loveday, noting some of the concerns around H&F Mind’s performance, asked if officers had considered splitting contracts with other providers like OCD Action. Ayesha Janju said they weren’t worried about Mind’s performance - it was felt they were doing quite well given the circumstances. They faced significant recruitment challenges – but that was an issue for providers across the sector. Mind had a ‘solid’ plan to address these issues but they would be interested in linking up with other organisations like OCD Action.


Councillor Alexandra Sanderson requested an explainer of mental health provision aimed at councillors.

ACTION: Mandy Lawson / Satwinder Saraon


Councillor Sanderson asked if there were particular demographics that were harder to reach or promote services to. Mandy Lawson said that information wasn’t currently being collated in one place – but the JSNA would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Youth Council Engagement pdf icon PDF 132 KB

This paper summarises the engagement work with the Youth Council during the period of Covid-19, touching on the partnerships and future plans this will inform going forward.


Jan Parnell (AD Education), Brenda Whinnett (Youth Voice Coordinator), and Helen Green (Interim Head of Local Offer) gave a presentation and the following points were noted:

·       At the start of the year there had been a major Youth Council recruitment drive and they were gearing up for elections when the pandemic hit.

·       Despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic the Youth Council have remained active. They have focused on getting information relevant to young people out in an accessible way and have made videos on impact of Covid-19 on young people and their mental health.

·       They have also been working to make the Youth Council more inclusive and have a big event planned for next week involving the Youth Council, the Children in Care Council, the Young H&F Foundation, Health Watch and other youth focused services.


Nandini Ganesh said she was pleased to see the SEND work the Youth Council had been doing – her son was taking part and very happy to be involved in the Council.


Councillor Larry Culhane (Cabinet Member for Children and Education) thanked Brenda Whinnett and Helen Green for their hard work – ensuring that a wide range of young people were playing an active role in shaping the borough. The Chair echoed the Cabinet Member’s remarks and asked to continue to be involved in the Youth Council’s work going forward.


Return to School Update

Officers will provide a verbal update on how the return to school is going.


Jan Parnell gave a short update on the return to school following the lockdown.


She highlighted the tremendous amount of work that took place ahead of schools going back – from teachers and school staff, the Council’s education team, and volunteers from the civic response. The borough had provided a wide range of activities to over 3000 children and young people over the summer. The activities were targeted to the most vulnerable children to get them ready to come back to school in September. She reported that all schools in the borough were now fully open.


The Education team had been in regular communication with headteachers throughout the pandemic. They had supported them with guidance, interpreting the 292 separate documents schools had received from the Department for Education since March. Despite major challenge over the Summer, testing was now in place for teachers and young adults. The team had also worked with schools to put a recovery curriculum in place which focused on reading and helped schools adapt to a new world of blended learning – incorporating online and face-to-face teaching.


Jan Parnell reported that H&F remained a popular location for newly qualified teachers and the team had been hosting networking events for them.


Councillor Mark Loveday asked for more information on the recent outbreak at Queens Manor School. Jan Parnell said there had been some small outbreaks – a single positive case in a secondary school and now three primaries each had a single child testing positive. Schools had been very good at containing the spread of the virus.


Councillor Loveday asked how many cases would trigger the closing of a school. Jan Parnell said the goal was to keep all schools open. They were already working in bubbles as per the guidance from the DfE. The DfE had a helpline to give guidance to teachers and provide advice on who to send home etc. There was also support available from Public Health and an online system was in place to track cases.


Councillor Larry Culhane gave his thanks to Jan Parnell for her team’s support to schools, to schools themselves for their ‘Herculean’ effort over recent months, and to parents and families who played a huge role in that success.


Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for the 9th of November 2020.



The next meeting was scheduled for the 9th of November 2020.