Agenda and draft minutes

Informal meeting, Children and Education Policy and Accountability Committee - Monday, 25th March, 2024 7.00 pm

Venue: Online - Virtual Meeting. View directions

Contact: Debbie Yau  Email:

Link: Watch the meeting on YouTube

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies for absence were received from Eleanor Allen, a co-opted member from London Diocesan Board for Schools.


Councillor Mercy Umeh had apologised for her lateness in joining the meeting.


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.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 251 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting as an accurate record and note any outstanding actions.




That the minutes of the meeting held on 29 January 2024 were agreed to be an accurate record.



Education Performance Data pdf icon PDF 918 KB

This is the annual school performance report of the provisional outcomes of the academic year 2022-2023 assessments and examinations in H&F Primary, Secondary schools, and the current position with regard to Ofsted school inspections. It provides an overview of the outcomes and how they compare with the national picture. Additionally, the priorities for school improvement in H&F that inform the work of officers in education service are also highlighted.


Peter Haylock (Operational Director for Education and SEND) briefed members on the Education Performance Report for academic year 2022/23. He took members through the early years: Good Level of Development (GLD), key stages 1, 2, 4, 5 and SEN performances, as well as attendance and exclusions.  He also introduced the outcomes of the Virtual School and Ofsted inspection as set out on pages 19 to 24.


The Chair asked about the changes in the early year foundation framework. Georgina Herry (Head of School Effectiveness) explained that there were changes in the implementation of a more rigorous framework introduced to schools since 2021.  Comprehensive training session was run by the Department for Education (DfE) to upskill the nursery sector. On DfE’s rationale in revising the framework, Georgina noted that there were reflections from practitioners and after looking at the GLD outcomes that the framework should dig deep into some key areas of the early foundation stage such as understanding of the world.


Councillor Lucy Richardson was concerned about the types of schools in the borough covered in the figures and whether the Council would help with issues like attendance and exclusions in some of schools like academies.  Peter Haylock advised that the Council provided necessary support based on the information on individual schools no matter whether they were an academy or not. The additional support had contributed to the strong results at key stage 2.  On exclusions or suspensions, the current policy and guidance was such a decision could only be made by the head teacher at the secondary schools. H&F schools could use the Social Emotional Mental Health Outreach offers provided by the Council to help support the young individuals who might experience behavioural changes or find school a particular challenge. The Council’s INSPIRE service, education psychologist and joint communication teams could also provide support to schools and academies in matching the needs of the young people. While these teams were very responsive to schools seeking support, they might intervene by looking at relevant data such as the number of applications for education and healthcare plan (EHCP) and contacting the schools if they had not engaged the service of these teams.


In response to Councillor Richardson’s further question about exclusions, Peter Haylock noted the Council’s commissioned alternative provision provider would receive a referral for the excluded young person via the ACE team within six days for school placement. The Council monitored the provider via a School Improvement Board looking at all key metrics and by running a specific attendance focus group.   Peter added that the School Effectiveness team worked closely with academies and held head teachers’ meetings with strong attendance. As regards attendance, Peter noted the DfE would be issuing statutory advisory guidance this September for councils to provide early help to schools and support to families.  H&F would like to do more as it was a key area for improvement. Councillor Richardson appreciated the Education team’s hard work. 


Nandini Ganesh (Co-optee) was concerned how to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Children Missing Education and Elective Home Education pdf icon PDF 376 KB

The report references the key legislation and Department for Education (DfE)  guidance that governs Local Authority work with two cohorts of children; children missing education (CME) and those whose parents/carers have elected to home educated (EHE). It provides data relating to the numbers of both CME and EHE children over the past 5 years.



Elizabeth Spearman (Head of ACE and School Admissions) explained the work of the ACE team was related to attendance, child employment and children in entertainment, and elected home education (EHE) and children missing education (CME).  The team dealt with the statutory aspect of attendance by issuing penalty notices following a referral from schools. She noted every single pupil was tracked, and those who had been served a penalty notice since September showed improved   attendance.  The team was also responsible for licensing of children who were involved in stage productions and modelling.  The portfolio of the ACE team also covered permanent exclusions and made referrals within six days for offer of alternative provisions. 


Elizabeth Spearman introduced the report which referenced the key legislation and DfE guidance that governed local authorities work with two cohorts of children, i.e. CME and those whose parents/carers had elected to home educate. It provided data relating to the numbers of both CME and EHE children over the past 5 years.  She noted the number of CME peaked when the country welcomed arrivals from Afghanistan and then Ukraine. Smaller peaks were also seen during the two school admissions rounds, if parents were dissatisfied with the school offered and chose to wait for a preferred option. s.  The number of children known to be EHE before the pandemic was about 80+ which was in line with the national picture.  The figure went up to around 200 at the height of the pandemic and fell again to the current 130 which was still significantly more than that before the pandemic.  Elizabeth remarked as long as the parents/carers were committed to providing home education proactively, the Council was keen to support all parents’/carers’ who elected home education.


Councillor Aliya Afzal-Khan was concerned whether the DfE had stated any minimum requirements for those who EHE in relation to curriculum and assessment.  Elizabeth Spearman noted that according to the law, home education had to be “suitable”; this was not defined in law or guidance.  As such, EHE did es not have to follow the national curriculum, children did not have to be  tested nor sit any public examinations like SAT/GCSE.  , The DfE guidance expected each  local authority to devise their own policies and guidelines for home education but specified that those opting home education had no obligation to inform the local authority of their intent H&F had made it a policy to see every home educated child and their parents/carers that was notified to the local authority. The Council also suggest a broad and balanced curriculum to equip the child to take their place in society.  If there were concerns deeming the home education provision was not suitable, the Home Education Advisor would interact with the family and turn things around skilfully, such as advising on the programme or encouraging the child going back into school.  Replying to Councillor Afzal-Khan’s further question, Elizabeth confirmed that mandated subjects at school were not required to be covered in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Private Fostering pdf icon PDF 121 KB

This report provides an overview of and background to Private Fostering - what it means in practice, the challenges to identification, what are being done to raise awareness and continuous improvement activity.

Additional documents:


Amana Gordon (Operational Director, Children and Young People Services) presented the report which provided an overview of private fostering, duties of the Council and community, challenges faced and further support needed.  The presentation covered definition of private fostering, legislation and legal duties, expectations around best practice and challenges, local context and next steps.


Responding to the Chair’s question, Amana Gordon noted private fostering was looking after a child that you were not related to under an informal arrangement.  That was why the Council needed to assess those arrangements. On the Chair’s further question about the networks or groups through which information were obtained under the pan London approach, Amana advised that private fostering would be discussed by practice leaders for London group, London Safeguarding Children Board, children social care practitioners and ERS leaders. She said that although there was legislation, it was not being enforced. The appetite for the relevant bill in terms of possible impact such as welfare concern was not yet there too.




That the Committee noted the report.



Engagement of Young People with voter registration - For information pdf icon PDF 116 KB

This paper sets out the main activities being undertaken by Electoral Service and the Youth Services to encourage young people living in the borough to register to vote. This is presented for information only.


Additional documents:


Members noted the information paper which set out the main activities being undertaken by Electoral Service and the Youth Services to encourage young people living in the borough to register to vote.


The Chair and Councillor Alex Sanderson (Cabinet Member for Children and Education) exchanged views on the date calling for Mayor election and the General Election. The Chair highlighted the report on getting young people registered to vote ahead of upcoming elections. She noted that H&F had been doing very thorough programme to engage young people through a range of different means for voter registration and bring in their voices for the future.



Dates of Future Meetings

To note the following dates of future meetings:

·       24 June 2024

·       11 November 2024

·       28 January 2025

·       22 April 2025


The Committee noted the following dates of future meetings:


  • 24 June 2024
  • 11 November 2024
  • 28 January 2025
  • 22 April 2025