Agenda and minutes

Children, Families, Lifelong Learning and Culture Select Committee - Thursday, 11 March 2021 10.00 am


Note: Please note that due to the Covid-19 situation this meeting will take place remotely. 


No. Item



    To report any apologies for absence and substitutions.

    Additional documents:


    Apologies were received from Simon Parr.



MINUTES OF THE PREVIOUS MEETINGS: Wednesday, 20 January 2021 pdf icon PDF 244 KB

    To agree the minutes of the previous meeting of the Children, Families, Lifelong Learning and Culture Select Committee as a true and accurate record of proceedings.

    Additional documents:


    The minutes were agreed as a true record of the meeting.



    All Members present are required to declare, at this point in the meeting or as soon as possible thereafter:

          I.        Any disclosable pecuniary interests and / or

        II.        Other interests arising under the Code of Conduct in respect of any item(s) of business being considered at this meeting



    ·         Members are reminded that they must not participate in any item where they have a disclosable pecuniary interest

    ·         As well as an interest of the Member, this includes any interest, of which the Member is aware, that relates to the Member’s spouse or civil partner (or any person with whom the Member is living as a spouse or civil partner)

    ·         Members with a significant personal interest may participate in the discussion and vote on that matter unless that interest could be reasonably regarded as prejudicial.

    Additional documents:


    Chris Botten and Richard Walsh declared a personal interest in relation to Item 5. This interest did not prevent the Members from participating in the discussion.

    Declaration: Members of the Corporate Parenting Board




    To receive any questions or petitions.


    1.    The deadline for Member’s questions is 12.00pm four working days before the meeting (Friday, 5 March 2021).


    2.    The deadline for public questions is seven days before the meeting(Thursday, 4 March 2021)


    3.    The deadline for petitions was 14 days before the meeting, and no petitions have been received.



    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all questions and petitions received will be responded to in writing and will be recorded within the minutes of the meeting.  

    Additional documents:


    None received.




    Purpose of report:


    To provide an overview of the service provided to looked after children and care leavers. To include the support and challenge provided by the Corporate Parenting Board and a summary of the data in key areas as compared with national data for the year ending March 2020.

    Additional documents:




    Mary Lewis, Cabinet Member for Children, Young People and Families


    Tina Benjamin, Director – Corporate Parenting 



    Key points raised during the discussion:


    1.    The Director – Corporate Parenting presented local and national key performance data, for the year ending March 2020, relating to children who had been looked after for 12 months or more. The Cabinet Member reminded the Committee that this was an Annual Report that needed to compare with other Local Authorities and more up to data was available and provided. For example, the Corporate Parenting Board (CPB) received and reviewed up-to-date performance data every six weeks, whilst the Chairman and Vice-Chairmen of the Select Committee received the performance compendium every month and met with officers four times a year to discuss service performance.


    2.    The Cabinet Member stated that during the COVID-19 pandemic, Corporate Parenting was more outward facing to partners and endeavoured to improve joint working. The Cabinet Member thanked officers for their dedication over the past year and the Director added that she was proud of the way that staff had worked throughout the pandemic.


    3.    The Director summarised the data on the rate of Children in Care. There was a small increase in the number of Children in Care in Surrey between 2019 and 2020, which reflected the national trend. The rate of Children in Care per 10,000 0-17-year olds in Surrey (37/10000) was considered low and did not change between 2019 and 2020. Due to Department for Education reporting timescales, the data presented included only the first two weeks of the pandemic; thus, the impact of COVID-19 was not evident therein. The Director expected significant changes to be highlighted in the 2021 annual report.


    4.    The percentage of Unaccompanied Asylum-Seeking Children (UASC) decreased (by 5.3%) between 2019 and 2020 which, again, reflected national decreases.


    5.    As of 31 March 2020, the majority of Children in Care in Surrey were placed with Foster Carers (70% as of March 2020). From 2019-2020, those placed in Children’s Homes increased by 3% (to 21%) whilst those in Adoptive Placements decreased (from 31 children to 28). The Director stated the importance of having a care plan in place for all Children in Care. There had been a greater decrease in the number Children in Care placed in adoption in Surrey than nationally.


    6.    Placing children in county or within 20 miles of their home was a priority for the Service that presented significant challenges. It was important that children stayed close to their friends and families and attended Surrey schools. It was important to report both of the measures - children placed within Surrey, and children placed within 20 miles - because a child placed, for example, two miles into Hampshire could still attend a Surrey school and remain in contact with their support network. The proportion of children placed within 20 miles of their home increased between 2019 and 2020 (51% to 53%). The proportion of children placed within Surrey increased (from 48% to 51%) between  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14/21



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    Purpose of report:


    The Select Committee to understand the role of adult and community education, including in respect of COVID-19 recovery, the available provision and how it is funded and delivered, and the challenges and opportunities faced by the council in this area.

    Additional documents:



    Julie Iles, Cabinet Member for All-Age Learning


    Liz Mills, Director – Education, Learning and Culture

    Francis Lawlor, Interim Head of Surrey Adult Learning Service/ Service Manager, Surrey Adult Learning


    Jayne Dickinson, Chief Executive Officer (College Group) and Principal (East Surrey College)


    Key points raised during the discussion:


    1. A Member asked what barriers typically made it more difficult for adults to participate in education and training and how adult learners were supported to overcome those barriers. The Director explained that adult learning offered a range of benefits to participants, including skills development, enhanced productivity, career progression and improved health and wellbeing. There were a broad range of barriers to adults engaging in education and learning, such as language, disabilities, disadvantaged backgrounds, ability to travel, access to technology, anxiety, and knowing what was available. The Service was constantly looking at the feedback from learners to try and understand how to make the offer as impactful and accessible as possible.


    1. The COIVD-19 pandemic provided the Adult Learning Service with an opportunity to remodel and rethink the operation and delivery of its services across the county to better connect with skills development, increase participation, and ensure that economic changes were well understood and linked to employment opportunities.


    1. During the pandemic, Surrey Adult Learning (SAL) was required to cease face-to-face teaching and the Service diversified its offer quickly to successfully deliver remote learning and improve digital skills. Finding alternative ways of delivering adult learning provision was a big learning curve that generated new ways of working and presented a wide range of opportunities for the Service by increasing accessibility and reach into communities. The Principal – East Surrey College (ESC) agreed that remote learning brought more people into education and encouraged those who had previously not considered upskilling or who were worried about their employment status. ESC was involved in two youth hubs for 19-24 year olds, and was working with local district and borough councils and  the Department of Work and Pensions to ensure that this cohort was not left behind. Digital skills developed significantly for students and teachers during the pandemic and more people than ever had enrolled in teacher training courses. The Service Manager added that during COVID-19 an increasing number of learners wanted to have more involvement in the teaching of the curriculum and pushed their teacher more, and those with learning difficulties and vulnerabilities had also started to shape and provide input into the curriculum.


    1. ESC was a vocational college that focused on employability and skills development, career progression and retention, and entry into jobs. The college also focused on social engagement and many students undertook a range of volunteering and leisure courses. The majority of adult learners at ESC were enrolled on skills or basic skills programmes to help them get into work or progress onto the next stage of education. There were 300 adult learners studying four programmes over two years, adult apprentices, students studying for their Higher National Certificate and professional courses, and a large number  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15/21



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    Purpose of report:


    The report provides an update on the council’s cultural services, the response to and impact of COVID-19 on frontline services. The report also provides information about future opportunities and direction of cultural services.

    Additional documents:


    Mark Nuti, Cabinet Member for Communities


    Marie Snelling, Executive Director – Communities and Transformation

    Susan Wills, Acting Assistant Director – Culture, Libraries & Registration



    1. The Chairman welcomed the recently appointed Cabinet Member for Communities to the meeting and asked what his aspirations were for Cultural Services.The Cabinet Member was excited about the work being done to improve, evolve and expand the cultural experience for residents of Surrey.


    1. The report referred to income lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Members asked about the short- and medium-term implications of this for the Service and whether there were any planned savings. The Executive Director stated that the pandemic had and continued to have a major impact on the delivery of frontline Cultural Services. A loss of £1.5m over the year was largely due to the closure of many of the Service’s income generating services (for example music tuition in schools). Covid grants from central government substituted some of this loss and the Service estimated that it would need to recover approximately £800k through efficiencies the following year. This deficit was subject to change as many of the Directorate’s services depended on customer behaviour and how individuals accessed services after lockdown. Therefore, close monitoring and flexibility was important, and the Service worked with the Finance department to ensure that scenario planning could evolve with the easing of lockdown restrictions and as patterns of resident behaviour could be discerned. The Service had put in place a range of mitigating actions to recover income, if needed, and was looking at how it could diversify and increase income across a number of services. It was also looking at measures to reduce back office costs whilst increasing efficiency to ensure that front line delivery was not impacted.


    1. The Service ambition was not just focused on recovery but on growing and securing additional funding for services. The Assistant Director informed Members that the Service was looking at and learning from good practice in other parts of the country by working and building relationships with colleagues from other Local Authorities and organisations such as the British Library. Overall, the plan was ambitious, but the Executive Director and Assistant Director were confident that it could be achieved. It was difficult to estimate how many years it would take to recover losses as it would depend on future public interaction with services. The Executive Director reiterated Members that comprehensive scenario planning had been undertaken. 


    1. The delivery of Cultural Services was flexible during the COVID-19 pandemic, with the use of digital and technology increasing choice, accessibility and efficiency, reducing costs and improving the offer and customer usage. The Service was committed to incorporating this new, virtual way of service delivery post-pandemic and wanted to build on the online events that were quickly developed from scratch during the first lockdown. The online services enabled the Service to continue its support of children’s learning and reading in a fun and interactive way, and provided an extra resource accessible to children throughout the school  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16/21



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    Purpose of report:


    To provide an update on the Libraries Transformation programme and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on progress.

    Additional documents:


    Mark Nuti, Cabinet Member for Communities


    Marie Snelling, Executive Director – Communities and Transformation

    Susan Wills, Assistant Director – Culture, Libraries & Registration


    Key points raised during the discussion:

    1. The Executive Director introduced the report and explained that the Libraries Transformation Programme (‘the Programme’) aligned with the council’s wider commitment to transform services for the benefit of residents, whilst supporting the council’s ‘empowering communities’ agenda which sought to stimulate local engagement and put residents at the heart of designing and delivery local services. The ambition of the programme was to develop modern, inclusive libraries that had strong community relationships and supported the local economy and skills agenda. The Programme sought to achieve a number of key outcomes: improved user experience of a positive, welcoming, accessible service; increased and improved service offer and initiatives; a more inclusive and relevant service; increased partnership-working; a greener library model; improved service efficiency and innovation; and a stronger and more diverse workforce. Due to COVID-19, some of the transformation work had slowed down, such as the co-design work with residents. Nevertheless, a great number of achievements were still made during the pandemic and the Service delivered £2.3m of efficiencies across the programme whilst improving frontline services. The Programme was complex and would take a number of years to deliver, but the Executive Director was confident that transformation would provide residents with excellent spaces to work and learn.


    1. A Member requested further information regarding the funding of the Transformation Programme. The Director explained that the Service delivered £2.3m of efficiencies and there was an additional £600k built in for 2021/22, with £4m being delivered over the lifetime of the programme through to 2025.


    1. The Programme was intended to provide users with better value for money and efficiencies were being delivered through a number of means, for example reduction in staffing costs due to a new workforce model. To date, the Service spent £800k on the Programme and investment for 2021/22 was projected to be £650k. The Executive Director was confident that financial savings and returns on investment would be made and would increase moving into the next phase of the programme, which focussed on codesigning services within the local community. The Executive Director stressed that this was not a savings programme, rather savings were a consequence of transformation.


    1. A Member noted that the three categories of library proposed in the 2020-2025 Strategy were not mentioned in the report and asked whether the introduction of those categories would proceed. The Assistant Director responded that the Service was committed to the delivery of 52 libraries and the three categories as stated in the report. Larger libraries were to be co-located with partners where possible and flagship libraries would accommodate additional services and functions. The approach still needed refining, but the Assistant Director stated the importance of taking a tailored approach for each place and community. 


    1. The types of services, facilities and built environments that residents could expect of libraries following the transformation were not all predetermined and depended  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17/21




DATE OF THE NEXT MEETING: Thursday, 15 July 2021

    The next public meeting of the Select Committee will be held on Thursday, 15 July 2021.

    Additional documents:


    The Committee noted its next meeting would be held on Thursday, 11 July 2021.