Agenda and minutes

Informal Meeting, Children and Education Policy and Accountability Committee - Wednesday, 30th June, 2021 6.30 pm

Venue: Online - Virtual Meeting. View directions

Contact: David Abbott  Email:

Link: Watch the meeting on YouTube

No. Item


Appointment of Co-opted Members for 2021/22

The Committee is asked to note the appointment of the following Co-opted Members for the 2021/22 Municipal Year:

·       Eleanor Allen, London Diocesan Board for Schools

·       Nandini Ganesh, Parentsactive Representative

·       Nadia Taylor, Parent Governor Representative

·       Matt Jenkins, Teacher Representative


The committee noted the re-appointment of the following co-opted members for 2021/22:

·       Eleanor Allen, London Diocesan Board for Schools

·       Nandini Ganesh, Parentsactive Representative

·       Nadia Taylor, Parent Governor Representative

·       Matt Jenkins, Teacher Representative



Minutes pdf icon PDF 251 KB

To note the minutes of the previous meeting.


Members noted the minutes of the meeting held on 29 March 2021.



Apologies for Absence


There were no apologies for absence.


Apologies for lateness 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. 



There were no declarations of interest.



Public Participation

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


You can watch the meeting live on YouTube:


No public questions were received.



Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) Update pdf icon PDF 462 KB


Mandy Lawson (Assistant Director, Education and Disabilities) presented an update on services for children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND). She was joined by Alison Markwell (Head of SEND Partnerships) and Satwinder Saraon (Strategic Lead for Early Years and SEND Transformation).


The Chair noted that the timescales for Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) had improved since 2017 but there was a dip in 2020/21 due to Covid. She asked if officers expected the timescales to return to pre-Covid levels soon. Mandy Lawson said Covid did have a major impact on the process, primarily because most children weren’t in school so practitioners weren’t able to gather information and carry out assessments. With children back in schools, officers expected the process to return to normal. But the impact of the pandemic on children was still unknown and there may be an associated increase in the level of need coming through the system.


The Chair asked if the improvement in inclusivity over the last year was due to online / remote working and if that would continue. Mandy Lawson said remote meetings were less daunting for young people. The Youth Council had been very inviting and adapted its practices to ensure more people were included. The Council had also employed young adults to work with the Youth Council to ensure the voice of young people was included.


Nandini Ganesh noted that SEN support and inclusion would be used to bridge the High Needs Block funding gap and asked how SEN support would be monitored. She also noted that demand for EHCPs was increased significantly (13%) year-on-year so how would that be balanced with lower-level support and inclusion?


Mandy Lawson clarified that demand for EHCPs wasn’t increasing by 13% year-on-year, but there was an increase each year. If a child had complex needs, they should have an EHCP. The problem with the current system was that it forced people into applying for EHCPs to access certain provision like speech and language therapy. Speech and language therapy had been identified as a key area for improvement and Satwinder Saraon (Strategic Lead for Early Years and SEND Transformation) noted that officers were developing a more rigorous and robust early intervention offer in this area to support children with emerging needs and those waiting for multi-disciplinary assessments.


Nandini Ganesh noted that 49 percent of children were from outside the borough and asked if in-borough children were prioritised. Mandy Lawson said the borough was fortunate to have four special schools and more places than the borough needed. The legal framework didn’t allow local authorities to ring-fence places, but officers were able to identify early which children needed places and apply for them early.


Councillor Mark Loveday asked for an update on the high needs block overspend situation.

Mandy Lawson said the High Needs Block transformation programme was about ensuring money was spent in the right place at the right time, using early intervention to avoid higher costs later on. The DfE had approved  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Summer in the City: The Big Learning Tent - Our Vision for the H&F Summer Programme pdf icon PDF 699 KB


Lesley Bell (Strategic Lead, Children’s Commissioning) presented the item on the Council’s summer activity programme for young people in the borough. The programme was designed and delivered in partnership with Let Me Play Ltd. Amy Lalla (Director of LMP Group) also attended for the item.


The Chair asked if Covid and the Delta variant had impacted the programme.

Amy Lalla said it was at the forefront of their minds - contingency plans were in place, all providers had Covid safety plans and risk assessments in place, and they were passing on best practice to providers. The programme was designed using a layered approach so it could be scaled back or changed depending on restrictions at the time. Lesley Bell added that the programme had been through H&F’s rigorous internal corporate process too.


The Chair asked how the programme would be marketed. Amy Lalla said it was marketed through the Council’s website and newsletters, through schools, through the providers networks, and on social media. Lesley Bell added that they had used social workers, headteachers, and school networks to promote it. The Youth Council also helped with design and communications to appeal to young people. The Chair commented that Councillors would be happy to promote it in their wards.


Matthew Jenkins asked what requirements were in place to ensure providers were aware of their safeguarding responsibilities. Lesley Bell said all providers had to meet certain safeguarding conditions as part of the commissioning / grant process. Amy Lalla added that all providers had to complete safeguarding training and all designated safeguarding leads had face-to-face visits.


Councillor Larry Culhane (Cabinet Member for Children and Education) paid tribute to the organisations involved and thanked Let Me Play for the great support they had provided to schools. He also paid tribute to the borough’s schools, the majority of which stayed open throughout the lockdowns to support vulnerable children and the children of key workers.



Childcare Sufficiency Assessment Highlights pdf icon PDF 196 KB


Jan Parnell (Director of Education) introduced the item that provided an overview of the annual childcare sufficiency assessment. She was joined by Satwinder Saraon (Strategic Lead for Early Years, Education and SEND Transformation) and Phil Tomsett (Head of Early Years).


The Chair asked:

·       Why take-up was low?

·       How H&F’s take-up compared to other boroughs?

·       How was the offer promoted?

·       How could the Council reach out to groups who weren’t engaging?


Phil Tomsett said take-up was low compared to H&F’s statistical neighbours. That was partly due to the impacts of Covid – the 3 and 4 year offer was down 6 percent and the 2 year offer was down 10 percent. Providers said that was due to anxieties of families of children attending group sessions, particularly those in multi-generational households. But take-up was also relatively low pre-Covid. Officers were working with the Department for Education to develop a take-up strategy. Some of the groups identified, like the Somali community in White City, had arranged childcare in their own community. To encourage take-up officers wanted to develop a community champion approach, which had been successful in other boroughs. They also wanted to simplify the process to make it easier to access.



Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting is scheduled for 16 November 2021.