Agenda and minutes

Children's Scrutiny Panel - Friday 1st December 2023 2.30 pm

Venue: Meeting Room 3 - Town Hall, Huddersfield. View directions

Contact: Helen Kilroy  Email:


No. Item


Membership of the Panel

To receive apologies for absence from those Members who are unable to attend the meeting.




Apologies were received from Councillor Anwar, Councillor Lawson and Oliver Gibson (Co-optee).


Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 366 KB

To approve the Minutes of the meeting of the Panel held on 22nd September 2023.



That the minutes of the meeting on the 22nd September 2023 be approved at the next Panel meeting on the 26th January 2024.


Interests pdf icon PDF 46 KB

The Councillors will be asked to say if there are any items on the Agenda in which they have disclosable pecuniary interests, which would prevent them from participating in any discussion of the items or participating in any vote upon the items, or any other interests.



No interests were declared.


Admission of the Public

Most debates take place in public. This only changes when there is a need to consider certain issues, for instance, commercially sensitive information or details concerning an individual. You will be told at this point whether there are any items on the Agenda which are to be discussed in private.



All items were considered in public session.



The Committee will receive any petitions and/or deputations from members of the public. A deputation is where up to five people can attend the meeting and make a presentation on some particular issue of concern. A member of the public can also submit a petition at the meeting relating to a matter on which the body has powers and responsibilities.


In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 10, Members of the Public must submit a deputation at least three clear working days in advance of the meeting and shall subsequently be notified if the deputation shall be heard. A maximum of four deputations shall be heard at any one meeting.


No deputations or petitions were received.


Public Question Time

To receive any public questions.


In accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11, the period for the asking and answering of public questions shall not exceed 15 minutes.


Any questions must be submitted at least three clear working days in advance of the meeting.


No questions were received from members of the public.


Work Programme and Agenda Plan for 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 437 KB

The Panel will consider the proposed areas of focus and activity for the 2023/24 municipal year and discuss the method and means to be used to continue the Panel’s work going forward.


Contact:         Helen Kilroy, Assistant Democracy Manager

Additional documents:


The Panel considered the work programme and agenda plan for the 2023/24 municipal year.



1.    That the Work Programme and agenda plan for 2023/24 be noted.

2.    That a report on Post 16 Home to School Travel would be considered by the Panel in January 2024.


Performance Data (Children's Services) - verbal update on highlights

The Panel will consider a verbal update on the performance highlights from the latest Children’s Services data report covering period ending 30th September 2023.


Contact:         Jo-Anne Sanders, Service Director

                        Kieran Lord, Service Director


The Panel received a verbal update on the performance data for period ending September 2023, provided by Jo-Anne Sanders and Kieran Lord,  Service Directors in Children’s Services.


Jo-Anne Sanders, Service Director for Learning and Early Support, highlighted the following key issues –

·         Officers were focusing on school attendance and making improvements but it was acknowledged that some students found it harder than others to attend school and that schools and partners were working with pupils and parents to remove barriers by building trusting relationships and working together to put the right support in place

·         Barriers to education was wide and complex and securing good attendance could not seen in isolation and effective plans for improvement would involve closer interaction with schools and settings and efforts on curriculum, behaviour, bullying; special educational needs and pastoral support and wellbeing of youngsters were really key;

·         Effort across teaching and non-teaching in schools, trust bodies, workers in the Local Authority and partner agencies were all coming together to help unlock the barriers

·         Attendance did impact on academic outcomes and nationally overall absence rate of pupils not achieving grade 9 to 4 was over twice as high as those achieving grades 9 to 5, 8.8% nationally compared to 3.7% and 90% of young offenders have been persistently absent

·         Kirklees have been assigned an Independent Education Advisor from the Department for Education who would spend 5 days with the Learning Service and Schools looking at what could be done to improve attendance and the first visit took place in November where Kirklees data was shared and how the Service was being measured within Kirklees 

·         Feeding back to the DfE on children who were classed as persistently absent and how get a shared understanding around the more vulnerable groups; looking at trends in terms of illnesses and what could be done together with public health colleagues

·         Engaging with children and families to instill good habits and routines from the start, working with the Council’s youngest children as part of Families Together

·         Take up for eligible 2 year olds of free early entitlement within early years settings was 80% as at September 2023, which was really positive and helped the Council to build strong relationships from the early stages which would have a positive impact on children’s more formal schooling career

·         In September 2023, absence in primary schools was 4% with an increase in October to 4.8%, secondary was 4.6% in September and an increase in October to 6.7%, the increase during September to October had been mirrored nationally and the half term holidays could often influence absences

·         DfE were releasing fortnightly data showing school type and absence rates across the academic year – national figures showed 4.8% absence rates in state funded primary schools, 3.3% authorised absence, 1.5% unauthorised absence, state funded secondary schools was 3.8% and Kirklees 5.6%

·         Children who were persistently absent was a safeguarding concern and a forensic look was being undertaken around attendance which involved other partners such as virtual school

·         More stable  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Pre-decision scrutiny - Cabinet decisions on the horizon

The Panel will consider any potential areas of pre-decision scrutiny in accordance with any cabinet decisions relating to children and young people which are on the horizon and receive updates from Senior Officers in Children’s Services.


Contact:         Jo-Anne Sanders, Service Director

                        Kieran Lord, Service Director


No items of pre-decision scrutiny on Cabinet decisions were reported. 


Feedback from Panel Members on issues considered by Corporate Parenting Board

Panel Members who attend the Corporate Parenting Board, will feedback on key areas of focus considered by the Board, which will be of interest to the Panel.




Councillor Kendrick advised that the last meeting of the Board was held on the 24th October 2023 and there had been issues around quoracy due to the numbers of Board Members joining the meeting online.  The Panel was informed that on the 31st October 2023, Mark Redell came and talked about care leavers and the Corporate Parenting Board and advised on some key issues for the Board to address, one of which was to have future representation at the meetings from the police, health and decision makers as well as third sector and young people.  Cllr Kendrick advised that it had been informally agreed to ascertain if Board Members could provide substitutes to ensure future meetings were quorate.  The Panel was informed that feedback from Mark Redell would be given at a future meeting of the Board. Councillor Cooper advised that the next Board meeting would take place on Tuesday 5th December.


Kieran Lord advised that the Head of Service for Sufficiency, Joel Hanna, would be taking on responsibility for Corporate Parenting in Kirklees.



The Panel noted the updates from the Corporate Parenting Board and thanked the Cabinet Member and Officers for their contributions.