Agenda and draft minutes

Children's, Young People and Education Cabinet Committee - Tuesday, 14th September, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: Online

Contact: Emily Kennedy  03000 419625


No. Item


Apologies and Substitutes

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Apologies were received from Ms McArthur, Mr Beart and Mr Lehmann for whom Mr Hood was present.



Declarations of Interest by Members in items on the Agenda

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There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes of the meeting held on 30 June 2021 pdf icon PDF 329 KB

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RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Children’s, Young People and Education Cabinet Committee held on 30 June 2021 were correctly recorded and that they be signed by the Chairman.



Verbal Update by Cabinet Member and Corporate Director

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1) Mrs Prendergast said work had been undertaken with Kent Supported Employment Service which supported people with physical disabilities, learning difficulties, autism and sensory issues to move into sustainable, paid work.  Working with people aged 16 to 70, the service also supported employers with recruitment.  From September 2021, the team was moving into mainstream schools to help support them in providing employment opportunities for all pupils with special educational needs and disabilities and would encourage pupils with to name employment on their ECHPs starting from year 9. KCC was the first council in the UK to introduce this in all mainstream schools. Training was to include embedding supported employment into the curriculum through head teachers, SENCOs, parents and teacher buy-in. Training also aimed to empower school staff through programmes such as systematic instruction, professional job coaching and the supported employment model as well as independent travel training skills. Work was being done with Oakley College (which was being re-named The Oaks Specialist School) to support their students into employment.  The first phase was an on-site Tesco store and an independent coffee shop. Placements were to be used as a transition to employment. Mrs Prendergast was looking forward to attending the official launch of the Tesco store on 29 September 2021.


The Kent Test was taken by Kent’s pupils on Thursday, 9 September and testing for ‘out of county’ pupils took place on Saturday,11 September. A significant amount of work was carried out by officers beforehand to ensure the testing environments remained Covid-safe and were in line with government guidance. Where necessary alternative arrangements were made to ensure that no self-isolating child was compelled to attend their original test date.  This year, additional training sessions were provided to schools on making the best use of the Head Teacher Assessment process and highlighted the importance of referring all suitable pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds and provided with support, where requested.  Results were to be made available on 21 October before the national closing date for secondary applications on 31 October.  Unlike in 2020, it was not necessary to provide pupils with additional preferences as parents were to apply knowing whether their child was eligible to attend a Kent grammar school.


Children and young people engaged in variety of online opportunities helping them to ‘get ahead’ before the start of new school term.  Over 82,500 learning opportunities were delivered to children and young people over a 5 week period by Invicta National Academy with 40% of those participants being Kent residents.  Over 200 children accessed the Lift Up platform over the summer period. Students took virtual trips to 6 destinations around the world to connect with inspiring human stories that modelled resilience, problem solving, teamwork and other critical skills.  In partnership with Reconnect, over 100 young people furthered their learning using the free resources provided by AudioFy. GCSE and A-level students had free access to a library of more than 22,000 podcasts which brought to live a wide range of subjects. Broken down  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.


External Fostering Placements Commissioning Strategy pdf icon PDF 477 KB

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1) Mrs Chandler introduced the report regarding external fostering and reminded Members that KCC’s Kent Fostering Service was providing an exemplary service.  There had been active recruitment to the service and foster carers had been recruited within the previous 12 months.  Kent Fostering Service had maintained its foster carer numbers during the pandemic.  Even with this service, it was necessary to make external placements.


2) In response to questions, it was noted that:


·       There were regional arrangements which had been explored by KCC but at the current time, there did not appear to be additional benefits to joining those alliances. Therefore, it had been decided to replicate the model with Medway moving forward.

·       There was a priority for Looked After Children to have access to mental health support.

·       Standards for fostering services were governed by OFSTED requirements.  Fostering agencies brought in other services such as counselling and build this into their costs.


3) Members RESOLVED to endorse the recommendations detailed in the report with the following addition to part c):


“ … in consultation with the Cabinet Member”.



Performance Monitoring pdf icon PDF 928 KB

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Katherine Atkinson (Assistant Director of Management Information and Intelligence) was in attendance for this item.


1) Ms Atkinson introduced the Performance Monitoring scorecard and reported that there had not been significant changes from the previous quarter. Most KPIs had remained stable.  The figures relating to ECHPs had been improving each month.


2) In response to questions from Members, the following was noted:


·       It was noted that the number of NEETs was previously reported annually but it has been requested that it be reported on a monthly basis. Therefore, the indicator was impacted seasonally.  The figures that were reported to the Department for Education were those from December, January and February- as those gave the fullest picture.


·       It was requested that a detailed report come to the Committee regarding NEETs.


·       There was a slower recovery for the indicator relating to the issuing of ECHPs in some areas of Kent and this was due to the level of backlog in those areas.  The timescales for issuing ECHPs would improve further once the backlog was cleared and areas across Kent would perform more similarly.

3) RESOLVED that the Committee noted the report.



SEND Update pdf icon PDF 1 MB

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Mark Walker, Director of SEND was in attendance for this item.


1) Mr Walker said that the Department for Education and NHS England had performed their quarterly monitoring visit.  KCC had recorded and evidenced progress made.  It was recognised by the DfE and NHS England that SEND was a high priority at KCC and areas 1 to 9 of the Statement of Action had progressed at different rates. Overall, the feedback was positive and the resources that had been put in had been recognised.


KCC had recruited to the following posts: Assistant Director for Disabled Children and Young People, Sharon Howard; Assistant Director for SEND, Steve Tanner; Assistant Director for Educational Psychology, Alison Farmer and Strategic Development Manager, Kerry Green.


2) Mrs Chandler said thanks to all staff who had worked hard to make improvements in SEND.


3) In response to questions from Members, the following points were noted:


·       Work had started in March on the backlog of over 600 ECHPs and the backlog had been reduced to less than 190 which were over 20 weeks. At the same time, there had been an unprecedented increase in requests for the assessments.  Most areas across the Kent had a backlog of about 10-11% but in Swale, this was over 30% and Canterbury, it was 23%. The higher numbers in the backlog were reflected in the percentage of ECHPs completed within timescale for these areas.


·       There were some areas in the Statement of Action where KCC had made significant progress: family engagement, the family offer, information hub, the momentum with ECHPs and educational psychology assessments, joint commissioning, governance and leadership.  Further information was sought around waiting times with Health services. Further evidence was sought on pupil progress, inclusive nature of schools and systems to track and improve outcomes.  It was recognised that there had been challenges around evidencing these due to the pandemic.


·       The SEND service was undergoing a process of transformation and staffing was to be considered as part of this. There was also to be investment in training and ‘upskilling’ staff as well as ensuring recruitment processes were robust.


4) Members RESOLVED to note the update.


Provision of Community Support Services for Disabled Children and Young People - outcome of procurement process pdf icon PDF 290 KB

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Christy Holden (Head of Strategic Commissioning – Children’s) and Mark Walker (Director of SEND) were in attendance for this item.


1) In response to questions from Members, it was noted:


·       The existing contract was to expire on 31 March 2024 and there was an option to extend by a further 3 years.  If the contract was operating well and delivering, being able to extend under the same terms and conditions was to be welcomed. The contract would allow some improvements throughout.


·       There were fewer contracted staff on ‘Zero-Hour’ contracts due to the nature of the work that they were doing and the need to have personalised, tailored support.  This could be monitored through contract monitoring.


2) RESOLVED to note the report.


21/00067 - Commissioning of a service to Support Families to build resilience and self-help strategies (neurodevelopmental pathway) pdf icon PDF 743 KB

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Christy Holden (Head of Strategic Commissioning – Children’s), Stuart Collins (Director – Integrated Children’s Services- Early Help Lead) and Helen Cook (Senior Commissioner – Community Resilience) were in attendance for this item.


1) Ms Holden introduced the report which recommended establishing a contract with the voluntary sector.  It was felt that the voluntary sector was best placed to meet KCC’s requirements. However, Members were asked to consider whether this was best approach or whether other economic sectors should be considered.


2) In response to questions, it was noted:


·       There was an NHS waiting list of around 12,000 for formal clinical assessment and KCC’s investment along with the NHS was to alleviate concerns and provide early help but it was not expected to reduce the waiting list.


·       The voluntary sector was considered best placed to manage volunteers and the services would be delivered through a range of voluntary sector resources. It had also been considered whether to use virtual or in person delivery, depending on the needs of the local families being supported.


·       There had been an engagement process with SEND Improvement Board, parental partners, young people and services to consider options.  The options had been co-produced and engagement with parents had continued to increase and improve.  Parents had expressed a wish to have support from other parents with lived experience and parents volunteering received training. Workshops had been held with partners about what the model should look like and levels of engagement had been high.


·       It was requested that where there was engagement and co-production with parents that evidence be provided.



3) Members RESOLVED to endorse the recommendations detailed in the report with the following addition to part b):


“ … in consultation with the Cabinet Member”.


4) Dr Sullivan and Mr Brady asked for it to be noted that they had abstained from noting the recommendations.



21/00069 - Proposal to permanently expand Borden Grammar School, Avenue of Remembrance, Sittingbourne, ME10 4DB from 120 places to 150 places for September 2022 pdf icon PDF 541 KB

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Marisa White (Area Education Officer – East Kent) was in attendance for this item.


1) Ms White introduced the report.  There had been objections to the planning proposal associated with the expansion and therefore, the planning application was going to be considered at Planning Committee and there was to be a site visit for members of the Planning Committee.  The school had taken a temporary one form of entry ‘bulge’ in mobile buildings on the school site and the proposal was also to be subject to a full business case that the Academy would have to put forward to the Regional Schools’ Commissioner, subject to planning permission.


Work was being undertaken with Highsted Grammar, the girls’ grammar school around a funding agreement to expand by one form of entry as well.  However they had chosen to take forward their own build proposals.


2) In response to questions from Members, it was noted:


·       5 options had been considered and there had been meeting with residents who were unhappy with the siting of the expansion proposed.  As part of the planning process, the options were being reconsidered.


3) RESOLVED to endorse the recommendations in the report.



21/00070 - Proposal to expand Whitstable and Seasalter Endowed CE Junior School from 192 places to 240 places, increasing the published admission number (PAN) from 48 to 60 for Year three entry in September 2022 pdf icon PDF 237 KB

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Marisa White (Area Education Officer – East Kent) was in attendance for this item.


1)    Ms White introduced the report and advised that further to the report brought to the Cabinet Committee on 15 January 2021, a more detailed feasibility study had been undertaken alongside other work.  The cost had been assessed as higher than previously expected and therefore, required a Key Decision.


2)    In response to questions from Members, it was noted:


·       The feasibility study had been sub-contracted and there had been mistakes made.  The detailed surveys had not been undertaken at the time of the initial feasibility and costing.  Some of the pre-planning discussions had not been taken account of at the time of the initial study

·       There had been a 14 month delay and there had been an impact around material and labour costs that could not have been anticipated.

·       An arrangement was in place to manage places a the school for September 2022


3)    RESOLVED to endorse the recommendations in the report.




Proposal to expand Thamesview School pdf icon PDF 303 KB

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Ian Watts (Area Education Officer – North Kent) was in attendance for this item.


1) Members AGREED to endorse the recommendations in the report.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 214 KB

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1) Members noted the work programme.