Agenda and draft minutes

The Shareholder Committee for the Dorset Centre of Excellence (DCOE) - Monday, 20th November, 2023 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Dorchester, DT1 1XJ. View directions

Contact: Chris Harrod  Email:


No. Item



To receive any apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs Spencer Flower and Gary Suttle.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 124 KB

To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting.


The minutes of the meeting held on 18 September were confirmed.


Matters Arising


The Chairman queried if there was an update relating to the usage of the on-site Walled Garden and it was explained that the school was continuing to develop the way the garden was being used and that its key usage centred around horticultural lessons. The school was also working with pupils to understand how they would like to utilise the space to further enrich their curriculum.


Declarations of Interest

To disclose any pecuniary, other registrable or non-registrable interest as set out in the adopted Code of Conduct. In making their disclosure councillors are asked to state the agenda item, the nature of the interest and any action they propose to take as part of their declaration.


If required, further advice should be sought from the Monitoring Officer in advance of the meeting.



There were no declarations of interest.


Public Participation

Representatives of town or parish councils and members of the public who live, work, or represent an organisation within the Dorset Council area are welcome to submit either 1 question or 1 statement for each meeting.  You are welcome to attend the meeting in person or via MS Teams to read out your question and to receive the response.   If you submit a statement for the committee this will be circulated to all members of the committee in advance of the meeting as a supplement to the agenda and appended to the minutes for the formal record but will not be read out at the meeting.


The first 8 questions and the first 8 statements received from members of the public or organisations for each meeting will be accepted on a first come first served basis in accordance with the deadline set out below.  For further information read Public Participation - Dorset Council


All submissions must be emailed in full to by 8.30am on Wednesday 15 November 2023.


When submitting your question or statement please note that: 


  • You can submit 1 question or 1 statement.
  • a question may include a short pre-amble to set the context.
  • It must be a single question and any sub-divided questions will not be permitted.
  • Each question will consist of no more than 450 words, and you will be given up to 3 minutes to present your question.
  • when submitting a question please indicate who the question is for (e.g., the name of the committee or Portfolio Holder) 
  • Include your name, address, and contact details.  Only your name will be published but we may need your other details to contact you about your question or statement in advance of the meeting. 
  • questions and statements received in line with the council’s rules for public participation will be published as a supplement to the agenda. 
  • all questions, statements and responses will be published in full within the minutes of the meeting.   




No participation requests had been received.


Councillor Questions

To receive questions submitted by councillors.  


Councillors can submit up to two valid questions at each meeting and sub divided questions count towards this total.   Questions and statements received will be published as a supplement to the agenda and all questions, statements and responses will be published in full within the minutes of the meeting. 


The submissions must be emailed in full to  8.30am on Wednesday 15 November 2023.


Dorset Council Constitution – Procedure Rule 13 



No councillor questions had been submitted.


Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 139 KB

To consider the Shareholder Committee Dorset Centre for Excellence’s Draft Forward Plan.


The forward plan was noted.


Dorset Council Commissioning Report pdf icon PDF 188 KB

To consider the report.


The Corporate Director – Commissioning and Partnerships introduced her report which gave a summary of the period’s commissioning activity.


Officers responded to Members’ comments and requests for clarification, details included:


  • There was no longer a need for the Council’s officers to maintain a presence on-site following a significant improvement programme at the school.
  • The school was on target to reach 72 pupils by the end of the term and the council was working with the families of pupils with additional needs and their schools to establish if Coombe House School would be an appropriate placement for them.
  • Cllr Jones would be informed of the costs for placements outside of the meeting due to the commercial sensitivity of the figures.


The Chairman was pleased to note the improvements made at the school and the good reputation that it had acquired over a relatively short period, particularly within the local community. He added his thanks to the Corporate Director for the work that she’d done assisting the school with its improvement programme and wished her well in her new job role.




DCoE - Report of Chair of the Board of Directors pdf icon PDF 88 KB

To consider the report.


The Chairman of the Board of Directors introduced the report which set out the progress made by the company since the previous meeting.


The Chairman thanked Mr Comfort and the team for their report and welcomed the Chair of the Board’s comment relating to the inclusion of comments from students and their parents at the next committee meeting. He added that he regularly received positive feedback on the work done by the school in terms of outcomes and experiences of pupils, but also in relation to the provision of the swimming pool and the positive effect that it was having on the community.


For the sake of transparency, Cllr J Somper declared that her husband was a user of the on-site swimming pool.


Board Members in attendance and Officers responded to Members’ comments and requests for clarification, details included:


  • Staff turnover had reduced over the past 12 months and the school was focussed on securing the best people for the school and ensuring that they remain there, feeling part of something special. Looking after the wellbeing of employees was a strong focus. The school had also recently undertaken a very successful recruitment drive, during which it appointed 13 members of staff, all of which were performing well.
  • The school was continuing to review its recruitment strategy to ensure that it was seen to be an attractive employer. Significant growth was expected with the school over the next few years, particularly in September 2024, and so a timeline was being strategized.
  • The school was looking at developing a strategy to attract staff from outside the local area, if required including relocation packages if required and how it could market to and attract applicants from further afield than Dorset as the school grew and popularity. Training was a huge priority, particularly in terms of induction of new staff – the recent cohort of new starters had given good feedback on the quality of the induction programme that they had received. Further to this, the school had a comprehensive training plan to ensure that all staff had the ability to progress their development.
  • The company was not ready to discuss the timeline in relation to the proposed residential care home provision at this point, as there were still a number of matters to address, but there was a strong desire to ensure that such provision could be offered and it was hoped that update could be given at the next meeting of the Committee.


The Chairman commended the work that had been undertaken by the company in terms of the progress made and its future ambitions, before highlighting his continued support.




  1. That the report be noted

That the company be allowed to file abridged reports to companies house, as per the request in paragraphs 7.1 and 7.2 of the report


Report to Full Council on performance of the trading activities of the company pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To consider the report.


The Chairman of the Board of Directors introduced the report which set out the performance of the trading activities of the company, that was due to be submitted to Council.


Members were pleased to note the inclusion of feedback quotes from parents and students within the performance report and explained that it gave a user’s perspective as to the success of the company, which therefore added an additional layer of information that wasn’t always included in such reports.


The Monitoring Officer advised that this report would now be submitted to Cabinet instead of the Council, following a change to the constitution, which he had reported to the Audit and Governance Committee since the publication of the agenda.




Urgent Items

To consider any items of business which the Chairman has had prior notification and considers to be urgent pursuant to section 100B (4) (b) of the Local Government Act 1972. The reason for the urgency shall be recorded in the minutes.



There were no urgent items.


Exempt Business

To move the exclusion of the press and the public for the following item in view of the likely disclosure of exempt information within the meaning of paragraph x of schedule 12 A to the Local Government Act 1972 (as amended). The public and the press will be asked to leave the meeting whilst the item of business is considered.  


There are no exempt items scheduled for this meeting.



There was no exempt business.