Agenda and minutes

Children, Families and Skills Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 22nd February, 2023 10.30 am

Members of the public are welcome to attend our meetings to watch them in person at any of the venues across the County. Publicly accessible meetings held in County Hall will be webcast, which means they are available to be watched live or recorded on our website. Please see our webcasting notice here. The Committee may, in certain circumstances, resolve to hold part of the meeting in private. If this is the case, you will be required to leave the meeting.

Venue: Committee Room 'C' - The Duke of Lancaster Room, County Hall, Preston. View directions

Contact: Misbah Mahmood 


No. Item

County Councillor Ged Mirfin replaced County Councillor Keith Iddon for this meeting only.




Apologies were received from County Councillor John Potter, and Daniel Ballard, Roman Catholic Schools.


It was also noted that County Councillor Matthew Salter had permanently replaced County Councillor Andrew Gardiner on the committee.


Disclosure of Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary Interests

Members are asked to consider any pecuniary and non-pecuniary interests they may have to disclose to the meeting in relation to matters under consideration on the agenda.




Minutes of the Meeting Held on 25 January 2023 pdf icon PDF 403 KB

To be confirmed and signed by the Chair.


The committee considered issues related to queries raised by members over the accuracy of these and previous minutes. It was agreed to defer consideration of the minutes to the next meeting of the committee to allow officers to review the questions raised.  


It was noted that apologies should have been recorded in the minutes for County Councillor Loraine Cox.


Resolved: That the minutes of the Children, Families and Skills Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 25 January 2023 be deferred until the next meeting of the committee on Wednesday 5 April 2023.


Quarter 1 Report Education Strategy pdf icon PDF 267 KB

Additional documents:


The Chair welcomed County Councillor Jayne Rear, Cabinet Member for Education and Skills and Aby Hardy, Head of Education Improvement to the meeting.


The report provided a summary of the work that took place during Quarter 1 of the Education Strategy which was agreed by Cabinet in 2022, including the work undertaken on the five Key priorities of the strategy; Increase take up and outcomes in early years settings; Further reduce exclusions; Address rising numbers of EHE (Elective Home Education); Improve outcomes for vulnerable children; and Increase number of children in EET (Employment, Education and Training).


A presentation was given to the committee, a copy of which is attached to the minutes.


Comments and queries were raised by the committee as follows:


  • It was clarified that the data provided included academy data as well as data on maintained schools, it was noted that academies were open to sharing their data.
  • The number of pupil exclusions and the reasons behind them were a concern for the committee. It was noted that several schools were already working on a trauma-informed strategy as part of the long-term plan to deal with the rise in exclusions, and it was thought that social and communicational problems that had risen during the pandemic were a contributing factor in the surge in exclusions.
  • In reference to children returning to schools from Pupil Referral Units, it was noted this was only likely to be one or two per school. It was recognised that schools had acted after noticing an increase in complex behaviours that may not have been seen previously, including hiring additional staff, hiring a school counsellor, and providing additional training to the current staff.
  • The committee raised concerns about the availability of spaces in Pupil Referral Units and it was noted that Lancashire had the highest number of pupils in Pupil Referral Units than anywhere else in the country, and that while a few Pupil Referral Units had requested an expansion to increase their capacity, the emphasis was on adopting a preventative approach to keep pupils from entering units rather than simply expanding them.
  • Concerns were raised about schools communicating they were not sure about the support that was available for behavioural issues from the local authority. It was recognised that this had not always been clear in the past, this was being addressed with documented guidance being available, regular headteacher briefings and the service attending as many different boards as they could.
  • The service was congratulated on increasing the number of children in nursery provision. The impact, in terms of resources, on some nurseries receiving more children than expected was a cause for concern for the committee. However, the committee was informed that a surge in the number of children needing a place would be taken into consideration as part of the sufficiency measures to ensure there were places available for those children. Although, it was noted that the number of schools that got more pupils than anticipated was rather small. The committee also expressed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Education Attainment 2022 pdf icon PDF 419 KB

Additional documents:


The committee considered a report that provided a summary of the attainment of children and young people in Lancashire during the 2022 summer exam and assessment season.


A presentation was also given to the committee, a copy of which is attached to the minutes.


Comments and queries were raised by the committee as follows:


  • The committee requested whether another report with more detailed information on the various performances might be provided to the committee. However, it was noted that some data wasn't available, such as the Key Stage 1 information by locality.
  • The committee queried if there was any correlation between levels of deprivation and educational achievement and it was noted that the county council received 5000 changes to in year applications last year, with approximately 3000 of those applicants being new to the country. It was highlighted that many children who were new to the country were attending school without the appropriate language skills available, which would have had an impact on their exam results.
  • The committee asked as to whether local authorities shared best practice after noting that the percentiles listed in the report were relatively low in certain areas. All the data in the report was noted to be new data, and it was acknowledged that a discussion on best practice with other authorities was needed.
  • Regarding the Children Looked After figures in the report, it was clarified that the data related to children who were looked after in Lancashire; regardless of the type of school they attended or whether they attended a school outside of Lancashire. They were still considered to be Lancashire local authority children. Therefore, the figures in the report may not correlate with the figures shown during the meeting as the figures were for children that the council had a responsibility for, but they did not necessarily go to school in Lancashire.
  • The committee requested that written reports be circulated to members of the committee providing an update at the end of each quarter, with officers to be invited back during Quarter 4 (in 6 months' time) to provide an in person update to the committee on Items 4 and 5.


The Chair thanked the Cabinet Member and officers for their time and responses to the committee's questions.


Resolved: That the following recommendations be shared with the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills:


  1. Greater use of data such as breaking down figures to district and school level for future reports. Consideration be given to the difference in performance between high performing, average performing and low performing schools and what the percentage difference is.
  2. Consideration be given to the breakdown of data between different cohorts of children, for example, girls, boys, children new to England and free school meals and comparison of this data across the county and districts.
  3. Sharing of best practice between schools in different areas of Lancashire and approaching a similar authority to share best practice and see how things could be done better. 
  4. Officers to come back to the committee  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


School Transport Mapping System pdf icon PDF 230 KB

Additional documents:


The Chair welcomed Debbie Ormerod, Access to Education Entitlements Lead Officer, and Nan Hogg, Admissions and Transport Coordinator to the meeting.


The committee considered a report that outlined the implementation of the county councils Home to School Transport Mapping System.


Comments and queries were raised by the committee as follows:


  • The committee asked as to what could be done to shorten travel times after concerns were raised about how long it takes to go to colleges, such as the distance between Burnley and Blackburn College. However, it was noted that the colleges had their own procedures for transportation and that the local authorities did not arrange transportation for young people attending colleges.
  • County Councillor Anne Cheetham OBE JP declared a Non-Pecuniary Interest as she was a member of the Independent Transport Appeals Panel.
  • A lot of work was being done, such as attendance at parent evenings, to provide more information and publicity when parents applied for school spaces, to give much more targeted information in particular localities within the county where there had been a lot of transport appeals due to the lack of any free transport available.
  • Concerns about lighting on some transportation routes was raised, and the committee was told that the home to school transportation policy reflected the statutory duties in terms of transportation entitlement when a route's safety was assessed. Furthermore, council officers would evaluate the safety of a route if a parent raised concerns about its safety.
  • The committee asked when QRoutes would be made available online to parents.  It was noted that this was still work in progress and that it was expected to take another six months before it would be available on the LCC website.
  • In regard to  route assessments, it was noted that the council had been assessing Lancashire's transportation systems for a long time and in each locality, there was a wealth of data about the routes that had been assessed, often by officers going out to take measurements, observing traffic flow, and other things, which had helped to create a map of Lancashire that showed numerous blocked routes that had been deemed unsafe, as well as those routes that had been identified as being safe. If a parent challenged the safety of a route, then officers would be willing to re-assess that route. It was highlighted that with the new software, there were routes being shown as being unsafe and that were now being deemed to be safe due to different traffic calming measures being put into place or because speed limits had changed. It was noted that general assessment of all routes was a big piece of work and capacity was an issue.
  • The committee queried what could be done to encourage more personal safety, in terms of crossing the road or using protective equipment while riding a bike and it was suggested that those concerns be noted and shared with the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills who would share it with the Lancashire Road Safety Partnership  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Work Programme 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 146 KB

Additional documents:


The committee considered its work programme for 2022/23, including progress relating to the committee's previous recommendations.


Resolved: That the Children, Families and Skills Scrutiny Committee Work Programme 2022/23 be noted.


Urgent Business

An item of urgent business may only be considered under this heading where, by reason of special circumstances to be recorded in the minutes, the chair of the meeting is of the opinion that the item should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency. Wherever possible, the chief executive should be given advance warning of any member's intention to raise a matter under this heading.


There were no items of Urgent Business.


Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Children, Families and Skills Scrutiny Committee will be held on Wednesday 5 April 2023 at 10.30 am in Committee Room C – The Duke of Lancaster Room, County Hall, Preston.


The next meeting of the Children, Families and Skills Scrutiny Committee was due to be held on Wednesday 5 April 2023 at 10.30 am at County Hall, Preston.