Agenda and minutes

Children, Families and Skills Scrutiny Committee - Wednesday, 31st January, 2024 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




Apologies were received from County Councillor John Potter.


County Councillor John Singleton replaced County Councillor Peter Britcliffe and County Councillor Alan Schofield replaced County Councillor Stuart Jones for this meeting only.


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 13 December 2023 pdf icon PDF 193 KB

To be confirmed and signed by the Chair.


Resolved: That the minutes of the meeting held on 13 December 2023 be confirmed as an accurate record.



School and Post 16 Transport pdf icon PDF 174 KB

Additional documents:


The Chair welcomed County Councillor Rupert Swarbrick, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, Oliver Starkey, Head of Service Public and Integrated Transport, Debbie Ormerod, Access to Education Lead Officer, Nanette Hog, Admissions and Transport Co-Ordinator, Sarah Hirst, 16-19 Education and Skills Lead and Andrew Glover, Principal Transport Officer for School Transport to the meeting.


The report circulated with the agenda pack provided an update on the County Council's Home to School Transport Policy. It provided information on the 'Think Transport' publicity campaign which provided parents with information when making their primary and secondary school applications. The report also included information on the Post-16 Transport Policy.


Members were invited to ask questions and a summary is outlined below:


·  Regarding the Communications Action Plan, it was queried if the actions listed had been completed or if not, when they would be completed. It was explained to the committee the Communications Action Plan was undertaken in the Autumn 2023 term, specifically between 1 September 2023 to 15 January 2024 in line with the period parents had to apply for primary and secondary school places.


·  A query was raised in regard to the School Transport Review, Operational review – Season tickets, specifically when the review would be completed by, and the date actions would be effective from. It was highlighted to members that there were short, medium and long-term actions with differing time frames which had started over the summer 2023 and would continue until September 2026 as was detailed under Appendix 'B' of the report.


·  Regarding Q Routes, it was explained that two licences were required as there were two officers that provided the service, covering the North and the South and this ensured that routes could be optimised.


·  Members raised concern about students standing on school bus services, specifically if this practice was safe. It was explained to the committee that introducing standing on buses was a short-term action that was introduced to increase capacity quickly. It was noted that the legalities were set by the DVSA, and the school bus vehicles were fitted with appropriate holding equipment to meet the legal requirement to carry standing passengers. Members were informed that allowing students to stand meant opportunity was given to travel on these services to children who did not have a statutory entitlement to transport. The Cabinet Member acknowledged the concerns raised by the committee regarding the safety of standees on buses. It was requested that further information on how risks were mitigated in relation to children standing on school bus services be provided to the committee.


·  Concerning the viability of the £2 bus fare and the cost to parents for school transport, it was noted that the council had been successful in securing funding for its bus service improvement plan however the Department for Transport guidance stated that this funding was for public services and not for school services. The committee were informed further monies were available for the bus service improvement plan and enquires had been made with the Department  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Education Attainment Data pdf icon PDF 173 KB

Additional documents:


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


The report circulated with the agenda pack provided a summary of the attainment of children and young people in Lancashire in the 2023 Summer exam season.


Members were invited to ask questions and a summary is outlined below:


·  A query was raised into what support was being offered to pupils with communication difficulties which could possibly result in behavioural issues resulting in an increase in suspensions and exclusions. It was explained that there was an Inclusion Engagement Support Service that could go into schools to support pupils with EHCP and Send support for immediate support, this service had been in place since September 2023. Behaviour consultants who developed a comprehensive training programme for schools but could also attend schools to deliver Twilights and work with staff and pupils.  There was also a lot of speech and language support being provided in primary schools.


·  It was confirmed for students entering mid-year, they were supported by the Equality and Diversity Team for ELA tutoring as well as support for families new to the country.  It was also noted that advancements in technology had aided non-English-speaking children. 


·  The committee raised a query as to whether Lancashire as a county received any extra funding after Covid to help bridge the attainment gap, as it was noted that Lancashire was a region that spent a longer time in Covid restrictions and therefore children were absent from school for longer. It was explained to the committee that the county had received Covid catchup tuition which had been available to all local authorities, but no other extra funding had been received.


·  The committee questioned what was being done to raise the attainment of districts such as Burnley and Pendle where levels of deprivation were lower so ultimately the attainment of Lancashire overall would increase. It was noted that any school not achieving what they needed to and was considered vulnerable came under schools requiring additional support. These schools were supported by the Monitoring and Intervention Team who go into the school and work with the school to deliver everything the school needed to improve for example in areas such as a SEND audit, disadvantage, quality of teaching, relationships with social care etc. Regarding the quality of teaching, it was noted that many schools were now receiving Good and Outstanding OFSTED judgements, and it was also an issue between the crossover of other services, it was noted that the Family Hubs service had really helped to bridge some of the gaps. It was suggested that the relationship between parents and school had deteriorated following Covid, and a report would come back the committee later in the year surrounding the new attendance strategy.


·  It was confirmed the report attained contained data for all 628 Lancashire schools, excluding independent schools. It was further queried by the committee if  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Work Programme 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 126 KB

Additional documents:


The committee received a report which provided an update on the work programme of the Children, Families and Skills Scrutiny Committee and a response to recent recommendations of the committee.


Resolved: That the Children, Families and Skills Scrutiny Committee work programme 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.




Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Children, Families and Skills Scrutiny Committee will be held on Wednesday 13 March 2024at 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 will be held on Wednesday 13 March 2024 at 10.30 am in Committee Room 'C' – The Duke of Lancaster Room, County Hall, Preston.