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LEARNING AND CULTURE SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 18th July, 2016.

 

Present: Councillor N.P. Hodges (Chairman); Councillor R.A. Penrose (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Ms. R. Birch, Mrs. C.L. Curtis, C.P. Franks, T.H. Jarvie and F.T. Johnson.

 

Non-Voting Observers: Mr. D. Treharne, Ms. T. Young and Mr. N. Want.

 

Also present: Councillors L. Burnett, Dr. I.J. Johnson and N. Moore.

 

 

165       APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – 

 

These were received from Councillors  Ms. K.E. Edmunds, A. Parker and Mrs. A.J. Preston (Vale of Glamorgan Council), Dr. C. Brown (Parent Governor – Secondary Sector) and Mr. P. Burke (Roman Catholic Church) (Co-opted Members).

 

 

166       MINUTES – 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 20th June, 2016 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

167       DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST – 

 

Councillor C.P. Franks declared an interest in Agenda Items 7 and 8 should discussions centre around ACL as his wife worked in the service area.

 

 

168       CENTRAL SOUTH CONSORTIUM ESTYN REPORT (REF AND REQUEST FOR CONSIDERATION – COUNCILLOR C.P. FRANKS) –

 

Councillor Franks had requested that the matter be considered by the Scrutiny Committee in order for the Committee to discuss the contents of the report.  Cabinet had also referred the report on 4th July, 2016 to the Scrutiny Committee for its consideration.  Mr. S. Sherman and Ms. S. Walker, Senior Challenge Advisors for the Vale and RCT respectively from the Central South Consortium (CSC), were also present at the meeting and had provided presentation information which had been circulated to Members prior to the meeting. 

 

The report attached at Appendix A had been published on 26th May, 2016 with the expectation that all consortia would be revisited against their recommendations from the Autumn of 2017 onwards.  

 

The report made five judgements within its framework with a context section on performance and outcomes.  Against each area the judgements were: 

  • Quality of School Improvement Service: Adequate
  • Leadership: Good
  • Improving quality: Good
  • Strategic Partnerships: Good
  • Resource Management: Adequate.

In the context section the report recognised the rapid improvement across the five Authorities in the region, the fastest improvement nationally and that the Consortium was now sitting at or above the national average in all indicators.

 

The report also referred to a number of areas of strength, in particular the increased consistency and quality of Challenge Advisors and categorisation processes, the clarity of vision and strategy within the self-improving school system strategy work and the strength of engagement with Headteachers and Authorities, also the effective use of resources.  It noted that :

 

“The Consortium has a clear vision and strategy to improve schools that is understood by most stakeholders and underpins the support for school improvement well.  Almost all schools across the region are engaging purposefully with school-to-school working.”

 

“Over the last two years, the Consortium has developed into a reflective organisation that is committed to evaluating and improving its own practice and performance.”

 

There were four recommendations within the report: 

  • Ensure that school improvement services address the variability of performance across schools and Local Authorities, particularly at Key Stage 4
  • Improve the accuracy of the evaluations of schools by Challenge Advisors in order to ensure a greater focus on improving teaching and leadership
  • Strengthen the procedures for monitoring and evaluating the impact of school improvement work
  • Evaluate progress against the regional Consortium’s operational plans more effectively.

The presentation advised that the CSC had been the first of the four Consortia in Wales to be inspected under the new Framework and an event had been planned for September 2016 with all four Consortia and the Association of Directors in Wales to review the context in which Consortium deliver on their roles.  The judgement had shown that the support for school improvement was adequate, the leadership was good, improving the quality was good, partnerships were good, and resource management adequate.  The term “adequate” meant strengths outweighed areas of improvement and the terminology “good” meant that many strengths and no important areas required significant improvement.  Mr. Sherman stated that there had been some gains in the main with Key stage indicators but that more work to close the gap between FSM and eFSM was required. The positives related to a clear strategy and engagement and that the categorisation processes were clear. There were also opportunities for professionals to develop under the service which were good and clear. 

 

The presentation provided graphical evidence in relation to the performance in schools across the Level 2 threshold, including English, Welsh and Mathematics as well as across all the Key Stages.  Of note was the fact that Estyn had concluded the Consortium had a clear vision and strategy to improve schools that was understood by most stakeholders and underpinned support for school improvement well.  Almost all schools across the region were encouraging purposefully with school to school working.  It also reported that over the last two years the Consortium had developed into a reflective organisation that was committed to evaluating and improving its own practice and performance.

 

In referring to his Request for Consideration, Councillor Franks advised of his concerns in relation to the adequate judgements within the report and the references to the words almost, most, in a few instances etc. littered throughout the report which, in his view, translated to can do better.  Ms. Walker advised that throughout the two week inspection there had been positives about the engagement and the work with schools, governors, partners and key stakeholders but that the Inspectors had said that it was too early to measure the impact at this stage. There was qualitative evidence but not enough of it.

 

Members were keen to learn how the Consortium was impacting on schools with it being noted that the Performance panels within the Vale were undertaking considerable work to raise performance.  In response, Mr. Sherman advised that the identification and intensity of intervention was a key element of the Consortium’s business plan and that this was more intensive now than it had been.  The Consortium was also learning from the good practice of the schools’ challenge programme, considering specific progress and establishing accelerated improvement.  Ms. Walker also stated that the Consortium had high aspirations and set itself challenging targets.  In noting that Appendix B reflected an action implementation plan, a Member queried whether all the Challenge Advisors had bought into the plan, with Mr. Sherman advising that they were key to its success. The Consortium was also developing its Challenge Advisor workforce with regular meetings taking place to ensure a consistency of approach and working to the right standards.

 

An observer Member on the Committee confirmed that she had witnessed first-hand the work the Consortium undertake within the schools which had been most helpful  and, in her view, well worth it.

 

The Chairman, having been part of the Vale’s Performance Panel approach, stated that issues in relation to English and Maths had been highlighted, dependent on the school and enquired as to the Consortium’s intentions in this regard.  Both Challenge Advisors responded that they had been approached regarding the issue, together with the issue of succession planning and like the recruitment drive for casting the net wider for Headteachers, they would also seek to adopt the same approach for   Maths and English teachers together with establishing a programme for identifying people for future roles.

 

In conclusion, the Chairman commented that the Committee would continue to monitor the progress and work of the Consortium through various channels with invitations to also be extended to attend future meetings of the Committee as appropriate.  In the meantime he considered that there was a good level of acceptance that the Consortium was going in the right direction.  

 

Having considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the representatives from Central South Consortium be thanked for attending the meeting and that the Committee continues to monitor and scrutinise the work of the Consortium as appropriate.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In recognition of the work being undertaken to date and plans in place to address the recommendations.

 

 

169       PROPOSAL TO INCREASE WELSH MEDIUM SECONDARY SCHOOL PLACES (REF) –

 

The report had been referred from Cabinet on 6th June, 2016 to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration as part of the consultation process on the proposals.  The consultation period had commenced on 20th June and was due to end on 1st August, 2016. 

 

In presenting the report, the Head of Service for Strategy, Community Learning and Resources advised that, as background to the report, during 2015 the Council had consulted on a proposal to transform secondary schools in Barry by

 

(i)       establishing a new mixed English medium comprehensive school;

(ii)      expanding Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg; and

(iii)     relocation to create two distinct campuses for Welsh medium and English medium education.

 

Following consideration of the responses to that consultation, Cabinet at its meeting on 5th October, 2015 decided not to progress further with those proposals but to establish an Advisory Board to review options with particular regard to the option of establishing two mixed sex English medium secondary schools as well as addressing the need to expand Welsh medium secondary school places. 

 

The new Advisory Board had included the Headteachers and Chairs of Governors of the three secondary schools, two Headteacher Representatives from feeder primary schools, representation from further and higher education, the relevant Cabinet Member, the Managing Director and officers of the Learning and Skills Directorate.  It was established in January 2016.

 

Having considered feedback from engagement activity carried out with the public, pupils, staff and governors of Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive schools and Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg, the Board considered options for the future of the three schools and agreed that the preferred option was to:

 

(i)        Expand Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg on its current site with the provision of a new entrance from Port Road;

(ii)       Build a new 11-18 mixed sex school on the site of Barry Comprehensive School;

(iii)      Create a modern, 11-18 mixed sex school by refurbishing and modernising the Bryn Hafren buildings.

 

The proposal to expand Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg on its current site would result in the school's capacity being increased by over 200 pupil places which required a statutory process to be carried out.  To establish two 11-18 mixed sex English medium secondary schools, the statutory process would involve closing Barry and
Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools and opening two new 11-18 mixed sex schools.

 

Members were advised to note the fact that the two proposals were not interlinked and could therefore progress separately.  As a result it was appropriate to carry out separate statutory processes, consulting on two separate proposals which would be more straightforward than consulting on a single more complex proposal and would result in groups of stakeholders being consulted on those issues which were most relevant to them. 

 

The Committee would also be consulted on the proposal to establish two English medium mixed sex secondary schools in September 2016.  It was noted that Welsh medium secondary education was currently provided at Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg, the only school that provided Welsh medium secondary education for the Authority, and accommodated pupils from the seven Welsh medium primary schools located across the Vale of Glamorgan. 

 

1,361 places were currently available at the school, 210 places in the primary phase and 1,151 in the secondary phase.  The anticipated increase in demand would require the secondary phase to accommodate 1,450 secondary age pupils with capacity at Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg the number on roll as at the pupil level annual school census 2016 and projected pupil numbers as detailed in Appendix A to the report.  Ysgol Bro Morgannwg was forecast to be at full capacity by 2020 and additional places would be required to accommodate additional children to allow them to continue in Welsh medium education.  Members were reminded that the Council had a statutory obligation, duty to meet the demand for Welsh medium education in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

There were currently 300 (16.7%) surplus places in the Welsh medium primary sector and on average over the past five years, 96.2% of pupils have transferred to Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg.  Furthermore, numbers attending the newly expanded Ysgol Gymraeg Gwaun y Nant in September 2015 and those due to start in September 2016 were significantly below the two form entry capacity of 60 for each year group.  Although these pupils would begin to feed in to Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg from September 2022, initially the number would be less than originally estimated.

 

Expanding Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg to provide 1,847 places would result in too much surplus capacity being built into the school which would not represent effective use of resources.  The projections in Appendix A to the report showed that after taking into account additional pupils from new housing developments, 1,366 Welsh medium secondary school places were anticipated by 2026. A Member enquired as to the capacity of the site as to whether the proposals could actually be accommodated. The Head of Service responded by advising that a considerable amount of work had been carried out in this regard and that the current proposals were smaller as the previous proposals had been for a larger site. The site would however, have to be redesigned and an investment of £19 million would be required which was slightly more than previously required. The new proposals also show a multi storey extension which would be built alongside the existing school.

 

It was difficult to forecast demand for Welsh medium secondary school places with any degree of certainty beyond 2026 as it was largely dependent on demand for places in the primary sector, which had plateaued over the past two years, and the percentage of pupils continuing on into the sixth form.

 

Within three months of the closing date for the consultation period, a consultation report would be published including a summary of comment received and the Council’s response to those comments.  The Council would then decide whether or not to proceed with the proposals within six months of the end of the consultation period.  If, following the consultation process the Council decided that the expansion of the school was to be progressed, a statutory notice would have to be published providing 28 days for objections. If objections were also received, an objection report had to be published with a summary of the objections and the Council’s response before the end of seven days beginning with the day of its determination.  A few Members stated that they had preferred the original proposals and the idea of a super school but recognised that following the results of the consultation different proposals were required.  Members also sought clarity on the involvement of Trade Unions. The Head of Service advised that the Unions had been engaged at an early stage to ensure that the views of stakeholders were taken into account as far as possible when developing the proposals.  She added that the current proposals would provide more opportunities for staff development and career enhancement.  In referring to responses to date, it was noted that 145 had been received with 10 being against the proposal, 130 in favour and 5 did not express a view either way.

 

Councillor Dr. I. Johnson, having been granted permission to speak, addressed the Committee by advising that he supported the current proposals whereas, in his view, the previous proposals to link the school with the two other secondary schools would have been a mistake.  Councillor Dr. Johnson also sought clarity on the school numbers, with the Head of Service responding that the figures were 1,450 secondary plus 210 primary places.  The number had been reduced based on current projections.  In response to a further query in respect of funding availability, Members were informed that Welsh Government were keen for Authorities to prepare schemes in readiness for Band B of the 21st Century Schools Programme  due to commence in 2019.  Welsh Government had indicated that they would welcome the submission of business cases for schemes prior to 2019 so that they could commence on site in April 2019. 

 

Appendix B to the report set out the anticipated timescales for the process approved by Cabinet. 

 

Having fully considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T Cabinet be informed that the Committee supports the proposals to increase Welsh Medium secondary school places by expanding Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg on its current site.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To advise Cabinet as part of the consultation process.

 

 

170       CORPORATE SAFEGUARDING UPDATE (REF) –

 

The report provided an update on the work that had been undertaken to improve corporate arrangements for safeguarding and protecting children and adults who required specific Council services and to ensure that these arrangements were effective. 

 

The report had also been referred to the Scrutiny Committees Corporate Performance and Resources, Homes and Safe Communities, Healthy Living and Social Care for consideration by Cabinet following its meeting on 20th June, 2016.

 

Welsh Government policy documents such as “Working Together under the Children Act 2004” set out clear expectations of the leadership needed corporately from senior Members and officers on safeguarding matters, with collective responsibilities for planning improvements.  However, the Wales Audit Office (WAO) “Review of Corporate Safeguarding Arrangements in Welsh Councils” (published in July 2015) found that many of the corporate safeguarding responsibilities within Local Authorities across Wales were underdeveloped and not well understood.  In order to address this issue, one of the key recommendations from the review was that all Councils should have a Corporate Safeguarding Policy in place to guide all departments, staff and Elected Members in the application of robust.

 

In response, the Corporate Safeguarding Working Group produced a new action plan incorporating all actions within the WAO Review checklist as measures for achievement.  It devised an Interim Corporate Safeguarding Policy which brought into one document and codified a range of relevant material produced within the Council at different times and for different purposes.  The Policy was endorsed by Cabinet on 7th March, 2016 and Elected Members had attended a training session in respect of the Policy as part of the training programme for the Social Services and Well-being Act.

 

Attached at Appendix 1 was a further report that brought together safeguarding activity undertaken by the Resources, Learning and Skills, and Social Services Directorates.  The report provided a comprehensive account of safeguarding activity across the Council which had been requested by the Cabinet. 

 

In presenting the report, the Director of Learning and Skills advised that the Council was making progress but there was still more work to be done. There was ongoing training in place to ensure the Council continued to make progress and 89% of school administrators had attended a course.

 

RECOMMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Committee continues to receive six monthly reports on progress.

 

Reason for Recommendations

 

(1&2)  To apprise Members.

 

 

171       CLOSURE OF ACCOUNTS 2015/16 (DLS) –

 

The Principal Accountant commenced by advising that following the end of the financial year, Scrutiny Committees were provided with provisional outturn figures with the Statement of Accounts to be formally approved by Council before 30th September, 2016.

 

Council, on 4th March, 2015, had agreed the Authority’s revenue budget requirement for 2015/16 and Appendix 1 to the report amended the revised budgets to take account of a number of adjustments as outlined below: 

  • IAS 19 Retirement Benefits – The purpose of this Standard was to ensure that the operating costs of providing retirement benefits to employees were recognised in the accounting period in which they were earned by the employees.  Figures provided by the actuary differed from that estimated and the movements needed to be incorporated into the accounts
  • Asset Rents – This charge could vary each year due to an increase / decrease in the valuation of assets.  The movements needed to be incorporated into the accounts
  • Recharges – These related to movements in charges between internal Council services
  • Carbon Reduction Commitment Scheme – The scheme required the Authority to report on carbon dioxide emissions associated with the use of electricity and gas within its buildings.  Payment was then made to the Environment Agency to cover the charge in respect of those emissions.

The following table compared the amended budget and the actual expenditure for the areas within the remit of the Committee:

 

Service

 

Year - 2015/16

Amended Revenue Budget

Total Provisional Actual

Variance +Favourable  () Adverse

 

         £’000

          £’000

             £’000

Learning and Skills

 

 

 

Education and Schools

94,692

94,692

0

Libraries

2,348

2,348

0

Adult Community Learning

270

270

0

Youth Services

1,038

1,038

0

Catering

1,854

1,854

0

Art Development

151

151

0

 

 

 

 

TOTAL

100,353

100,353

0

 

The detail in relation to any variances was set out in the report and as outlined below:

 

School Improvement and Inclusion –Adverse variance of £338k.

 

There was an adverse variance of £106k due to the costs of educational placements in independent schools and other Authorities.  There had been an increase in the number of pupils with significant learning needs which were unable to be met at Ysgol y Deri.  There had been a reduction in the amount of recoupment income the Authority received from other Local Authorities which had resulted in an adverse variance of £415k.  The recoupment income from other Authorities had continued to decrease, as fewer placements in Ysgol y Deri were available to be commissioned by other Authorities due to increased demand for Vale of Glamorgan pupils.  £4k had been transferred into the Additional Needs Fund.

 

There was a favourable variance of £46k in the School Improvement section due to income generation of £14k and underspends on supplies and services of £32k.  The Social Services and Education joint Looked After Children placement budget had underspent by £341k.  A transfer of £34k (10%) had been made to Education in accordance with the original agreement on variance apportionment.  Part year vacancies throughout the service had resulted in a favourable staffing variance of £63k.  The Fairfield Resource Unit was closed when the final pupil left in July 2015, with a resulting saving of £44k being achieved on staffing costs.

 

Strategy and Resources – Favourable variance of £253k

 

There was an adverse variance of £352k relating to the Schools Long Terms Supply and Maternity Scheme as premiums charged to schools had not been sufficient to cover the cost of the sickness in schools.  This overspend had been partially met by a transfer from the Schools Long Term Supply reserve of £288k.  The scheme was reviewed in January 2016 by a Budget Forum Focus Group and changes to premiums, membership and conditions were implemented in April 2016 in order to ensure that the scheme was self-funding in 2016/17.  A £180k transfer from the Early Retirement and Voluntary Redundancy (ERVR) reserve was required in order to meet the 2015/16 redundancy and retirement costs in schools.  The ERVR policy had been revised and all schools must meet full pension strain costs from April 2016.  The schools non delegated budget outturned with a £233k adverse variance due to amalgamation costs at Penarth Learning Community and Llantwit Learning Community totalling £131k, a one off payment to Ysgol y Deri of £78k regarding a previous year placement cost, legal fees of £15k and capital professional fees of £9k.  This overspend had been partly offset by a £138k transfer from the Rationalisation Reserve.  £44k was transferred into the Schools Investment Strategy Reserve in respect of capital charges paid by other Authorities for placements at Ysgol y Deri.  Other smaller adverse variances in this service totalled £4k.

 

There was a favourable variance of £69k due to rates charges as school buildings were revaluated in 2015/16 resulting in a back-dated rates refund amounting to £271k.  This one-off saving had been used to fund the increased rates bills at St. Cyres of £161k and Nant Talwg of £21k and other smaller rates increases amounting to £20k.  Part year vacancies within the service had amounted to a favourable variance on salary costs of £37k.  There had been a reduction in the number of non-maintained nursery settings and as a result there was a favourable variance of £27k on payments to private nursery settings.  The education transport budget, which was managed within the Development Services Directorate, had underspent by £295k.  A favourable variance had occurred on Union backfilling costs within schools of £20k and there was also a favourable variance of £12k on budgeted pension strain payments.  There was an underspend on debt repayment of £252k which was transferred to the Schools Investment Strategy fund.

 

Service Strategy and Regulation – There was a favourable variance of £25k due to a hold on non-essential expenditure within the Business Support section and savings from staff who were not at the top of the incremental scale as budgeted. 

 

Children’s and Young People’s Partnership There was a favourable variance of £60k due to part-year vacancies within the team amounting to £29k, savings on childcare settings and training totalling £9k and £6k respectively and underspends on other supplies and services including events amounting to £16k.

 

Libraries -  During the year, one off costs in relation to the implementation of the Libraries Review were incurred relating to redundancy payments, pension strain payments and legal fees which amounted to £313k.  These costs were partly offset by a transfer from the Libraries Reserve of £63k.

 

There were a number of favourable variances amounting to £250k that had partially offset this cost.  A favourable variance occurred on library staff of £160k due to posts held vacant pending the Libraries Review.  There were also savings on premises costs of £21k, supplies and services of £44k and transport of £4k.  In addition, the service had increased income generation resulting in a further favourable variance of £21k.

 

Adult Community Learning  - There was an adverse variance of £68k due to a reduction in funding from Welsh Government and Cardiff and Vale College, which resulted in redundancy and notice payments to staff.  This position was offset by a transfer from the Adult Community Learning reserve of £68k. 

 

Youth Service - There were favourable variances on staffing of £51k due to staffing savings from part-year vacancies, one off additional grant funding and a member of staff on a career break.  This allowed a transfer into an employee provision of £51k.

 

Catering  - There were adverse variances of £97k due to the final payment being required for the implementation of the cashless catering system and £129k for the conversion of dining centres into kitchens in four primary schools. This was partly offset by a transfer of £199k from the two Catering reserves and the 2015/16 Catering Trading Unit surplus of £27k.

 

Art Development  - There was a favourable variance relating to income generation of £2k which was transferred to the Libraries Reserve. 

 

The Council’s Capital Budget had also been agreed on 4th March, 2015 and in relation to the Learning and Skills Directorate, with the major variances being referred to as follows :

 

Penarth Learning Community  - Slippage of 126k was due to the financial implications of late instructions and orders placed directly by the school which were yet to be finalised.  

 

Llantwit Learning Community - Slippage of £309k was due to a longer than envisaged procurement process which delayed the start of works on site.  

 

Ysgol Bro Morgannwg Kitchen Roof Renewal - Finalising the scope of works delayed the start of the scheme, however, work was now progressing on site and was due for completion at the end of July 2016.  It had been requested that £244k be carried forward into 2016/17 to allow for the completion of the scheme.

 

Cowbridge Comprehensive Expand 6th Form - The work programme for this scheme had been managed by the school and was due for completion at the end of June 2016.  It had been requested that £179k be carried forward into 2016/17 to allow for the completion of the scheme.

 

School Loans Scheme –An allocation of £200k had been made available each year for schools to purchase IT equipment which was then financed through an internal loan with the Council. Similarly, an allocation of £300k was also made available each year for schools to undertake capital works.  For 2015/16, requests totalling £31k were received for IT loans and £188k for capital loans.  A new allocation was provided in 2016/17 and therefore a carry forward of budget was not required.

 

Attached at Appendix 3 to the report was a schedule showing the Committee’s reserves as at 31st March, 2016. 

 

A Member raised concern as to the number of schemes that required funding by way of the reserves.  The Accountant, in response, advised that some schemes had now peaked but that others such as the Library review and ACL were ongoing.  In referring to long term supply staffing within schools the Accountant stated that the premiums had been increased as a result.

 

Following discussion on the school loan scheme which allowed schools to borrow money for ICT purposes, a Member welcomed this approach as they felt it provided considerable support to schools when required and they hoped that it would continue in the future.

 

Following a query from the Chairman as to whether the Catering Service would be able to breakeven without the use of reserves, the Head of Service advised that the Service was forecasting to breakeven, although as a result of the significant reduction to the budget in 2016/17, it would be difficult in the future to make a surplus and without a surplus the Council would not be able to refurbish any kitchens.   Options to deliver the Service through an alternative service delivery model were currently being developed as part of the Council’s Reshaping Services Programme with the intention of sustaining the Service within the reduced funding.

 

Members again raised concern in relation to the funding in respect of Ysgol Y Deri which they were aware was being considered under the Reshaping Services agenda but enquired as to what the current situation was.  It was noted that other Local Authorities were not commissioning the services resulting in less recoupment income for the Council.  Officers reaffirmed that this was a cost pressure area which had been flagged up during the budget setting process and was an ongoing issue under Reshaping Services.  

 

Having fully considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the financial measures taken and proposed as contained within the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

For Members’ information and consideration and to note the report and financial measures being taken and proposed.

 

 

172       REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 31ST MAY, 2016 (DLS) –

 

The Principal Account advised that the Revenue Budget for the Directorate was projecting an adverse variance of £753k at year end but there were proposals to mitigate this position as detailed within the report. 

 

A graph and table setting out the variance between profiled budget and actual expenditure to date was attached at Appendix 1. 

 

The delegated budget relating to schools was expected to balance as any under / over spend was carried forward by schools.  However, with regard to School Improvement and Inclusion, this service was projected to outturn with an adverse variance of £951k, this being as the result of an adverse variance of £861k on the recoupment income budget and an adverse variance on pupil placements of £218k.  It was noted that the position could be partly offset by projected salary underspends of £128k, which had resulted from vacant posts, however the Service had a £2.4m recoupment income budget in respect of out of county placements purchased at Ysgol y Deri.  Members had previously noted that over the last few years a trend had occurred with more out of county pupils having left Ysgol y Deri than new pupils enrolling.  For the current financial year it was anticipated that 15 out of county pupils would leave the school with only four new starters enrolling.  The two main reasons referred to for this reduction were firstly due to an increased demand due to Vale pupils requiring a placement and that other Local Authorities were seeking cheaper alternatives due to budget reductions.  Whilst the Directorate had been successful in identifying Reshaping savings for the Inclusion Service, the Directorate had been unable to date to identify any further savings to cover this gap on recoupment income. 

 

For the service areas Service Strategy and Regulation, Strategic and Resources, and Children and Young People’s Partnership, these service areas were projecting a favourable variance at year end. 

 

For the Library service it was noted that the service was currently projecting to outturn on budget after transferring any legal costs and costs relating to the implementation of the service review out of the Libraries reserve, a judicial review had also delayed the implementation of the Community Libraries. 

 

The Director informed Committee that cost pressures had been identified during the budget setting process and that Members had to make some difficult decisions in terms of the extent to which a range of pressures across the Council could be funded.  The Directorate was currently developing a plan to mitigate the position.   In referring to the transfer of Library services, concern was raised in relation to the delays around the transfer of services and the continuing use of reserves. Committee was advised by the Head of Service that two libraries were very near to completion of transfer, one required charitable status registration and another  was dependent on the outcome of the Judicial Review hearing scheduled for the end of July.  The outcome would be known approximately three weeks after the date of the hearing.


The Youth Service was projecting a favourable outturn whereas for Adult Community Learning (ACL) it was anticipated that this service would outturn at budget after a £47k transfer from the ACL reserve.  The transfer had been requested to assist with new Welsh for Adults contract and a previous year’s funding reduction in Schedule 2/ Cardiff and Vale College Franchise. 

 

Although the Catering budget was anticipating to outturn at budget, there would be variations in school meal income which would affect the position.  The report highlighted that school meal uptake would be carefully monitored through the year.

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st May, 2016 and specific reference was made to issues in relation to Gladstone and Cadoxton Primary Schools.  For Gladstone Primary, the Boiler Renewal Scheme tenders had been received and the projected cost being £45k over the original budget.  Due to the fact that underspends were anticipated elsewhere in the Schools Asset Renewals Budget, delegated authority had been used to approve the following virements to the scheme:

 

            £5k from Holton Primary Structural Repairs

            £20k from St. Joseph Primary Drainage Upgrade

            £20k from Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg Renew Sewage Pumps.

 

For the Cadoxton Scheme, tenders had been received with the projected cost being £5k over the original budget.  Underspends were anticipated elsewhere in the Schools Asset Renewals Budget and therefore delegated authority had been used to approve the virerment of £5k from Holton Primary Structural Repairs to this scheme.

 

Following consideration of the report it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the 2016/17 revenue and capital monitoring be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To apprise Members with regard to the revenue and capital monitoring relevant to the Committee.

 

 

173       1ST QUARTER SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND WORK PROGRAMME SCHEDULE 2016/17 (MD) –

 

Members were advised of progress in relation to the Scrutiny Committee recommendations from the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) and the current Committee following the new performance management framework changes of Committee titles from 1st May, 2016.

 

Members were requested to consider the progress against each recommendation to assess whether further action may be required to ensure that the required action was undertaken and to confirm which recommendations were to be agreed as completed. 

 

Also attached at Appendix B was the work programme schedule for the Committee for 2016/17.  It was noted that the work programme had been aligned to the Cabinet Forward Work Programme and under the Scrutiny and Cabinet Rules and Responsibilities Protocol, point 76 stated that the Cabinet Work Programme was to be taken into account when Scrutiny Committees were drawing up their own work programmes.  In recognising that the work programme for September was substantial, Committee agreed that a further meeting be held on 13th September to manage the business.

 

The Head of Service explained that an indefinite delay in the progress of one of the housing developments in Rhoose had resulted in there being insufficient additional demand for school places to merit a new school and that there was also a reduction in the availability of S106 funding.. Further work would therefore be undertaken on options for Rhoose.

 

In referring to Task and Finish Work, Members were advised that the Council was in the process of agreeing a suite of measures to monitor progress against the new Corporate Plan wellbeing outcomes which were shortly to be considered by Cabinet.  This work was also being informed by the Member Working Group and further Task and Finish discussions would commence thereafter.

 

Having considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the following recommendations be deemed as completed:

 

18 April 2016 [previous   Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning)]

Min. No. 1021 – Individual School Performance Progress Panel Meeting   (DLS) –   Recommended

(2)   That an update report be presented to the   Scrutiny Committee in the Autumn following the GCSE results in August 2016.

(3)   That the report be referred to Cabinet for   consideration and / or approval.

 

 

 

(2)   Added to work programme   schedule.

Completed

 

(3)   Cabinet, on 9th May, 2016, resolved   that the contents of the report be noted and if further potential visits to   any schools were identified, there would be a future report for cabinet to   consider whether any further action was required by the progress panel.

(Min. No. C3171 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 1022 – Progress on Proposals to Transform Secondary Education   in West Barry (DLS) – Recommended

(2)   That the timescale for reporting proposals   to Cabinet and the Scrutiny Committee as detailed at Appendix A be agreed and   that further reports be received for consideration.

(3)   That an extraordinary meeting of the   Scrutiny Committee takes place on 8th June, 2016 to consider the   proposals to Cabinet of 6th June 2016 in respect of Ysgol Bro   Morgannwg.

 

 

 

 

 

(4)   That Cabinet be advised that the Scrutiny   Committee supports the timetable as outlined at Appendix A to the report and   that the expansion of Bro Morgannwg as a standalone proposal is welcomed.

 

 

 

(2)   Added to work programme   schedule.

Completed

 

 

(3)   At the Learning and Culture Scrutiny   Committee meeting held on 23rd May, the Chairman advised Members   that this meeting was no longer required and that a report scheduled in   relation to Ysgol Bro Morgannwg would be considered during the appropriate   consultation period. 

(Min. No. 53 refers)

Completed

(4)     Cabinet,   on 9th May, 2016, resolved that the contents of the report and the   progress to date be noted.

(Min. No. C3172 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 1023 – Service Plans 2016-20: School Improvement and   Inclusion and Strategy, Community Learning and Resources (DLS) – Recommended

(2)   That Cabinet ensure that the Plans are   kept at an acceptable level of complexity in the future as outlined within   the report.

 

 

  

Cabinet,   on 9th May, 2016, resolved that the recommendations of the Scrutiny   Committee (Lifelong Learning) be noted and further considered alongside the   Service Plans from the remaining Scrutiny Committees in a consolidated report   due to be submitted to a future Cabinet meeting.

(Min. No. C3169 refers)

Completed

23 May 2016

Min. No. 55 – Individual School Performance Progress Panel Meeting   (DLS) –   Recommended

(2)   That an update report be presented to the   Scrutiny Committee in the Autumn following the GCSE results in August 2016.

(3)   That the report be referred to Cabinet for   consideration and / or approval.

 

 

 

(2)   Added to work programme   schedule.

Completed

 

(3)   Cabinet, on 20th June, 2016,   noted the contents of the report and resolved

[2])   That pending the outcome of the GCSE   results from St. Richard Gwyn Roman Catholic High School in August 2016,   Cabinet will decide if a further visit to the school is necessary and will   advise the Learning and Culture Scrutiny Committee accordingly.

(Min. No. C3214 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 56 – Summary of School Inspection Reports for Spring Term   2016 (DLS) – Recommended

(4)   That the reports be referred to Cabinet   for its consideration.

 

  

Cabinet,   on 20th June, 2016, noted the contents of the report.

(Min. No. C3213 refers)

Completed

20 June 2016

Min. No. 113 – School and Community Based Counselling Service for   Young People (DLS) – Recommended

(2)   That the Scrutiny Committee continue to   monitor progress in the development of the service as part of its work   programme.

 

 

 

Added to work programme   schedule.

Completed

           

(2)       T H A T the Forward Work Programme be approved and uploaded to the Council’s website.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In view of the Committee’s role in effective monitoring and tracking of its recommendations.

 

(2)       In order that the Work Programme schedule can be agreed and uploaded to the Council’s website for information.

 

 

174       MATTER WHICH THE CHAIRMAN HAD DECIDED WAS URGENT -

 

RESOLVED – T H A T the following matter which the Chairman had decided was urgent for the reason given beneath the minute heading be considered.

 

 

175       REVISED SCHOOL ATTENDANCE POLICY (REF) –

 (Urgent by reason of the need to consider the report so that the Council’s School Attendance Policy can take effect from September 2016)

 

Cabinet had referred the School Attendance Policy to the Committee for consideration following its meeting on 11th July, 2016.  It was noted that in  December 2015 the Minister for Education and Schools wrote to all Local Authorities in Wales reminding them of their responsibilities in relation to Pupil Registration (Wales) Regulations 2010 and the Education (Penalty Notice) (Wales) Regulations 2013.  The Minister was concerned that some Local Authority guidance indicated that Headteachers should not exercise their discretion but should instead refuse all requests for term time absence as a matter of course regardless of the particular circumstances leading to such a request.  This being contrary to the Regulations which allowed a margin of discretion for the school in such matters. 

 

The Director of Learning and Skills, in presenting the report, advised that in the Vale of Glamorgan model policy that was recommended to schools, Governing Bodies were advised that they should not authorise any holiday requests during term time unless there were exceptional and extenuating circumstances.  It was suggested that these should normally be limited to family holiday requests from parents employed by the Ministry of Defence and family requests for holidays due to religious beliefs.  The current model policy had been adopted by the majority of schools and since this time attendance rates had increased and in 2014/15 secondary attendance was ranked the highest in Wales.  However, in light of the Ministerial intervention, the advice to schools now needed to be reviewed and updated. 

 

In the reviewed and updated Vale of Glamorgan Revised School Attendance Policy 2016, attached at Appendix A to the report, the Vale of Glamorgan Council would now advise all Governing Bodies that parents still needed to request permission from the Headteacher to take their children on holiday during term time and that this permission might be granted in accordance with the arrangements that had been agreed by the Governing Body. 

 

The Policy would also advise Governing Bodies not to authorise any holiday requests of more than 10 days in an academic year during term time except where there were exceptional and extenuating circumstances. 

 

The updated advice also stated that the school should carefully explore with parents why such a leave of absence was necessary.  If the Headteacher considered there were exceptional circumstances, this could result in the school agreeing with the request and authorising the absence accordingly.  The Director also informed Members that the Council had seen encouraging performance in the improvement of attendance in secondary schools in the Vale during 2015/16 which now averaged 95.1% with particular reference being made to progress by Bryn Hafren and Barry Comprehensive School and Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg.  Other schools were also prioritising attendance.  In response to a query regarding the Welsh National average, the Director agreed to obtain the information and forward it to Members of the Committee.  [Secondary attendance Wales 2014/15 93.9%.]

 

The Vice-Chairman took the opportunity to congratulate all the schools on the attendance results with this being corroborated by all Members.  Following a query as to how many fixed penalty notices had been served on parents, the Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Education, with permission to speak, advised that the figure for the Vale was around 20 and confirmed that none of these related to holidays.

 

The Chairman in conclusion stated that the Committee had discussed and endorsed the previous policy in considerable detail whereas the current policy in his view now gave parents an allowable ten days which worried him.  He stressed that in his view children should be in school at every possible opportunity. However, recognising that the policy required to be amended he stated that he had no intention of not supporting the revised policy report and would expect the Committee to continue to monitor attendance.

 

Having considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T Cabinet be informed of the Committee’s support for the revised policy to be adopted and note that the Committee will continue to monitor the performance of school attendance. 

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In order that formal approval can be agreed so that the policy can take effect from September 2016.