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LEARNING AND CULTURE SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 17th October, 2016.

 

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

 

Co-opted Members: Dr. C. Brown (Secondary Sector).

 

Also present: Councillors L. Burnett and N. Moore.

 

 

454         APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – 

 

These were received from Councillors Ms. R. Birch and Ms. K.E. Edmunds; Mr. P. Burke (Roman Catholic Church), Mr. D. Traherne (Welsh Medium Education), Ms. T. Young (Secondary Sector) and Mr. N. Want (Vale Youth Forum).

 

 

455         MINUTES – 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 19th September, 2016 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

456         DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST – 

 

Councillor C.P. Franks declared an interest in Agenda Item No. 4 – St. Cyres  – Budget Recovery Plan 2016/17 – 2020/21 in that he was a Governor of the school and had dispensation from the Standards Committee to speak and vote on the matter.

 

Councillor L. Burnett, although not a Member of the Committee, declared an interest in Agenda Item No. 4 – St. Cyres – Budget Recovery Plan 2016/17 – 2020/21 in that she was a Governor of the school and had dispensation from the Standards Committee to speak and vote on the matter. 

 

 

457         ST. CYRES – BUDGET RECOVERY PLAN 2016/17 – 2020/21 (MD) –

 

Dr. Jonathan Hicks, the Headteacher of St. Cyres Comprehensive School, and the Vale of Glamorgan Finance Manager for Learning and Skills were present at the meeting. The Finance Manager outlined that in October 2015, the Headteacher had requested an urgent meeting with the Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources and the Chair of the Governing Body with regard to a potential deficit for the school of £408,000 for the 2015/16 financial year.  At that time, the Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources agreed to fund a number of one-off purchases of a capital nature from the schools’ rationalisation reserve.  The total contribution to the school amounted to £91,934 with the Headteacher being advised that no further funding was available and that the school would need to submit a recovery plan as part of the 2016/17 budget setting process. It was agreed that the plan should identify how the deficit could be eradicated in a period not exceeding five financial years.

 

In order to assist, additional support from the Council’s Education Finance Support Team was also made available to the Headteacher of St. Cyres.  Committee was informed that the five year recovery plan submitted by the Headteacher and the Governing Body was attached at Appendix A to the report as part of the 2016/17 school’s budget setting process which intended to bring the school’s balances back into a positive position within the five year period.  The Finance Manager advised that the plan would be regularly monitored and reviewed annually by the Council and the annual review would be submitted to the Director of Learning and Skills in line with the annual budget deadlines.

 

Committee was further informed that staffing savings identified in the plan had arisen from a number of strategies such as restructuring, reductions in working hours, resignations, reductions in Teacher Learning Responsibility Allowances (TLRs) and forecast retirements over the five year period.  It was noted that where it would become apparent that a forecast retirement would not take place, additional savings would be identified through restructuring to ensure that a balanced budget would still be achievable by 31st March 2021.

 

During the discussion, a Member queried whether the costs for the new school had been fully appreciated in terms of the budget and whether the budget had been amended to take into account such additional costs.  Also of note was the fact that with regard to energy efficiency, it appeared from the paperwork that the costs were greater for the new school than they had been for the old school.  The Interim Director of Learning and Skills advised that the school was larger than the previous school and as a result the new school would have received additional funding for energy.  The school had also carried forward a deficit prior to moving to the new school building. 

 

Members took the opportunity to ask the Headteacher what the role of the Finance Committee had been in preparing to reduce the deficit and their involvement in devising a recovery plan.  Dr. Hicks stated that the Finance and Personnel Committees had met on a regular basis, noting that certain costs had been inherent as a result of the move to the new school building. Part of the old school’s budget had also been used to fund the running costs of the new school building as the school had commenced occupancy for six months under the old schools budget.  There had also been unforeseen costs totalling £94,000 in respect of supply cover in relation to staff long term sickness.  Headteachers from Bryn Hafren and Llantwit Comprehensive Schools had advised on best practice and advice on possible areas on which to make savings. Dr. Hicks further stated that following discussions with the Headteacher of Llantwit Major, who had assessed the budget and the structure of the school, he had advised that he could not provide any further suggestions other than consideration of the administrative structure. Dr. Hicks also advised Members that he did not have a Personal Assistant on a full time basis to support his role although he did have access to some staff support on a part time basis.

 

In considering the maintenance contract for the school Dr. Hicks confirmed that the contract had been re-negotiated for a lower charge than had been previously paid.  In view of a reduction in the charge, Members queried why the Directorate was not re-negotiating all school maintenance contracts, with the Interim Director of Learning and Skills advising that the responsibility for maintenance costs and any negotiations lay with schools but it was also her view that there would not be other schools in the same position as St. Cyres.

 

A Member considered that the five year plan was far too long and queried whether this was realistic.  Dr. Hicks confirmed that over the last two years the school had taken over 270 in-year admissions with the school roll standing at 1,270 pupils. Planned retirements were carefully monitored with the Local Authority and the school’s Finance and Personnel Committees met on a regular basis (on a four weekly cycle) and monitoring showed that recovery of the budget is currently ahead of schedule.

 

A Member stated that they had also been in a similar position in their school and queried whether the school was confident that the cuts could be made without having a detrimental effect on the quality of education.  Dr. Hicks confirmed that the school had had its best ever Key Stage 3 results and that the performance and delivery of the curriculum had not been affected.  He further stated that St. Cyres was the only school in Wales to be announced by the Apple organisation as a distinguished school which had also been achieved by the reduction of teaching materials through the use of digital technology.

 

The Vice-Chairman in querying the considerable deficit asked whether enough planning had been undertaken in the development of the business plan for the Penarth Learning Community.  The Interim Director advised that when devising the business plan, increased running costs such as energy were taken into account.  It was not necessary to consider additional staffing costs as the pupils and staff were to transfer from one building to another with no change in the staffing structure.  In referring to the reported rates increase, the Interim Director pointed out that all new school buildings had resulted in rates for which the Council had provided schools with the necessary additional funding.  This had been brought to the attention of Welsh Government.

 

Following a question as to whether there was a proposal to increase the intake for the school, the Interim Director stated that no proposal to increase the capacity had been considered as the school had been determined to be the right size to meet the demand for places from the school’s catchment area. 

 

In response to a query relating to how the Council would be planning for any new children from the housing development in the Sully area Committee was advised that there was capacity at St. Cyres to admit pupils at Year 7.  It was envisaged over time that catchment children would replace out of catchment pupils.  Currently a large number of out of catchment and out of County pupils attended the school.  However, it was pointed out that Stanwell, rather than St. Cyres, was the feeder secondary school for Sully.  The Council also found it difficult to persuade developers of the need through Section 106 funding for additional school places when schools were being filled with out of County pupils.  The demand for primary school places was also increasing as a result of new housing developments but it was not possible to predict the ages of children of families moving into new housing developments.  There had been examples where it had taken a considerable number of years for the predicted number of children to materialise.  A nationally recognised formula was used to forecast the demand for school places arising from housing development, but it was impossible to estimate this with accuracy.

 

Having fully considered the report and the responses made at the meeting, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the St. Cyres budget recovery plan for 2016/17 – 2020/21 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the school be congratulated on its recent GCSE results.

 

(3)       T H A T the recovery plan continue to be monitored and reported to the Scrutiny Committee as appropriate.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       Having considered the information provided at the meeting and in light of the budget recovery plan presented for the five year period.

 

(2)       In recognition of the school results in the Summer of 2016.

 

(3)       In order that continued monitoring can take place.

 

 

458         SCHOOLS BALANCES AS AT 31ST MARCH, 2016 (IDLS) –

 

The report outlined the level of school balances as at 31st March, 2016 and the measures that had been put in place to reduce the excessive balances held by individual schools.

 

The Finance Manager, in presenting the report, advised that the overall level of schools balances on 1st April, 2015 was £2,708,133 which had increased to £2,946,346 by 31st March, 2016.  It was further reported that total school balances had decreased year on year until the recent increase in 2015/16   Appendix A to the report provided a full list of school balances over the last five financial years and a further analysis was included at Appendix B.  Three schools had ended the 2015/16 financial year in a deficit, namely St. Cyres Comprehensive School, Ysgol Gymraeg Sant Baruc and Pendoylan Church in Wales Primary School.  The Governing Bodies of schools with surplus balances in excess of 5% had submitted spending plans, with Committee being advised that the Directorate could claw back surplus balances where a Governing Body did not comply with such a direction and any claw back of funding would be redistributed to schools.  Where individual balances were not spent in line with approved plans without good reason, the Directorate would advise schools how to spend surplus balances in excess of 5% of the budget, £50,000 for primary and nursery schools and £100,000 for secondary and special schools.  Schools with deficit balances would be monitored against approved recovery plans.

 

Following concern by a Member that some of the balances detailed with in the Appendices were quite significant in size, it was suggested that the Council should be stricter in its approach as the money was for pupils’ education and substantial balances should not be held.  In response, the Interim Director of Learning and Skills advised that it was a matter for each individual school to manage their budget but that the Department continually challenged schools regarding their spending plans and monitoring arrangements were in place.  It was noted that some schools saved for building projects and that balances contained within the appendices were a snapshot in time as some schools would have utilised monies to balance their budget in the current financial year.  The Interim Director sought to reassure Members that the Council regularly monitored school balances and would in certain circumstances, consider clawing back funding and with an intention to redistribute funding to all schools as appropriate. In querying whether there were plans to claw back any balances, the Interim Director stated that before an Authority could claw back any funding from schools’ surplus balances, there were a number of requirements within the legislation and the Council’s fair funding scheme for schools that must be followed.  In the first instance, the Authority must direct schools on how to spend excessive balances and then only if a school does not comply with such a direction can the Authority claw back the excess balance above £50,000 for Primary schools and £100,000 for Secondary schools.  The Interim Director was not aware of any other Local Authorities that had actioned funding claw backs of this nature to date. 

 

In accepting that the figures reported were a snapshot in time and that some of the balances would have now been adjusted, the Finance Manager agreed to provide Members of the Committee with a detailed report in relation to projected balances.  A further request was also made that details of school building investment plans be also reported to the Scrutiny Committee for Members’ consideration. 

 

Having considered the report and the comments made at the meeting, the Committee subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

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

 

(2)       T H A T reports in relation to updated school balances, following the necessary adjustments, and the detail in relation to the schools saving for building schemes be presented to the Committee.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In order that the Scrutiny Committee is aware of the level of school balances and the Directorate’s plans for claw back and redistribution of individual excessive surplus balances.

 

(2)       To provide Members with further detail in relation to the adjustments made to date and proposed building schemes.

 

 

459         REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 31ST AUGUST 2016 (IDLS) –

 

The Principal Accountant advised that a graph and table setting out the variance between the profiled budget and actual expenditure to date was attached at Appendix 1 to the report and made specific reference to service areas within the Directorate and details of their budget position as outlined below:

 

Schools – The delegated budget relating to schools was expected to balance as any under / over spend was carried forward by schools.

 

School Improvement and Inclusion – The service was projected to outturn with an adverse variance of £948k.  This was as a result of an adverse variance of £814k on the recoupment income budget and an adverse variance on pupil placements of £246k.  There would also be expenditure of £131k on redundancy and pension strain costs as a result of restructuring   This position could be partly offset by projected salary underspends of £243k which were due to vacant posts in the service as a result of early implementation of 2017/18 Reshaping Services savings.  The service had a £2.4m recoupment income budget in respect of out of county pupil placements purchased at Ysgol y Deri.  Over the last few years a trend had occurred where more out of county pupils have left Ysgol y Deri than new pupils have enrolled.  In the current financial year it was anticipated that 15 out of county pupils would leave the school and only four new starters would enrol, in the previous financial year there were 17 leavers and three new out of county enrolments. 

Whilst the Directorate had been successful in identifying reshaping savings for the Inclusion Service, the Directorate had been unable, to date, to identify further savings to cover this gap on recoupment income.  The pupil placements budget was a volatile budget that could be significantly impacted with changes to packages of one or two pupils.   £500k had been set aside in a Schools Placements reserve.  This sum would be used as a one off contribution in 2016/17 to mitigate part of the shortfall while further Reshaping Services work was undertaken by the Directorate.  If this shortfall could not be mitigated further in the year, further reserves could be utilised to balance the shortfall made up of £50k from the Excluded Pupils reserve, £44k from the Youth Service reserve and £78k from the Adult Community Learning reserve.

 

Service Strategy and Regulation – The service was currently projecting to outturn at a favourable variance of £31k due to salary underspends and reductions in office expenses for the Directorate.

 

Strategic and Resources – The service was currently projecting a favourable variance at year end of £178k. 

 

Children and Young People’s Partnership – It was anticipated that the service would outturn with a favourable variance of £23k as savings had been identified in running costs.

 

Libraries – 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 delayed the implementation of the Community Libraries and as such the delay would have an impact on the service's ability to achieve budget savings in 2016/17. Committee was informed that any shortfall would be funded from the Libraries Reserve.

 

Youth Service – It was currently anticipated that the Youth Service would outturn with a favourable variance of £42k due to part year vacancies within the service.

 

Adult Community Learning (ACL) – It was anticipated that the Adult and Community Learning Service would outturn at budget after a £44k transfer from the ACL reserve.

 

Catering – It was currently anticipated that this service would outturn at budget, however, variations in school meal income would affect this position.  School meal uptake would be carefully monitored throughout the year.

 

Arts Development – It was currently anticipated that the service would outturn with a favourable variance of £2k.

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st August, 2016, with specific mention being made of Colcot Primary School, it being noted that although alterations to the heating system and improvements to the external fencing and demolition of a demountable unit were carried out during the summer holidays, another part of the scheme to create a new car park was not able to be undertaken in the year and would therefore have to be carried forward to the summer of 2017.

 

Members, in querying the deficit for Ysgol y Deri, were advised that the deficit related to the recoupment budget which was held within the central education budget. The Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Education, with permission to speak, further advised that the demand for placements at Ty Deri had dropped dramatically over the last few years due to other Local Authorities seeking to educate their children within county and to source cheaper alternatives due to budget reductions.  The Council would therefore need to consider changes in how it supported its young people for the future, which was being explored under the Reshaping Services programme.

 

The Vice-Chairman stated that it was the significant size of the deficit that he was concerned about and, the fact that in his view the Council had not planned for these circumstances.  He stated that he would also be raising the issue at the next meeting of the Corporate Performance and Resources Scrutiny Committee.

 

The Interim Director advised that the business plan had been developed in consultation with the Headteachers of the three special schools, Social Services and a number of other Councils to ensure that the number of residential and respite beds was realistic.  At the time the plan was developed in 2010, it had not been possible to foresee the changes to demand for beds which had materialised.

 

In referring to the Library Service, the Chairman requested that an update be presented in relation to the current position in respect of the implementation of community libraries and the impact that the delays in their establishment  will have on the service’s ability to achieve the budget savings in 2016/17.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the revenue and capital monitoring for the period 1st April to 31st August, 2016 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T an update in relation to the Library Service and the implementation of the establishment of community libraries be presented to the Scrutiny Committee.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In view of the current position in relation to the 2016/17 revenue and capital expenditure.

 

(2)       To advise Members of the up to date situation in relation to delay in the implementation of the community Library Service and the impact for budget savings.

 

 

460         SCHOOL PERFORMANCE REPORT 2015-2016: FOUNDATION PHASE AND KEY STAGES 2 – 5 (REF) –

 

Cabinet, at its meeting on 3rd October, 2016, had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee for its consideration with the request that the Scrutiny Committee also be invited to reconvene an individual School Progress Panel meeting for Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School.

 

The report provided details in relation to the progress that had been made in the Vale of Glamorgan in the Foundation Phase, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5 categories, the schools that were a cause for concern and the powers of intervention that had been utilised.

 

The Lead Officer (for School Improvement and Senior Challenge Advisor), in presenting the report, provided Members with a PowerPoint presentation which detailed the Vale of Glamorgan’s performance in comparison to the other Local Authority Members of the Central South Consortium and in comparison with the results for the whole of Wales. 

The report highlighted that for progress in the Foundation Phase: 

  • The positive trend in improving standards continued for the majority of indicators at outcome 5, the exceptions being Literacy, Language and Communication in Welsh (LLCW) and Personal and Social Development (PSD).  Following an increase of 5.1% in 2013/2014, LLCW dipped by 0.9% in 2014/15 and a further 1.5% in 2015/16 although remained higher than LLCE (English).  PSD dipped by 0.2% although remained the highest in the Central South Consortium (Appendix 1, page 2).
  • Performance at outcome 6 had increased measurably for all indicators, most notably in PSD where attainment had improved by a further 5.4%. Performance at outcome 6 had been a continued focus for improvement and the impact of the support and challenge to schools had resulted in significant gains over the last three years.
  • The Foundation Phase outcome indicator (FPOI) had fallen very slightly after three years of improvement but remained the highest in the Central South Consortium.
  • The Local Authority rank for FPOI 2016 had improved to second from third. (Appendix 1, page 7).
  • At outcome 5+ the majority of schools performed above the median in all indicators.  Of particular note was mathematical development (MD) where 75% of schools were above the median.
  • All Welsh medium primary schools were again placed above the median for Welsh (LLCW) at outcome 6 although only 57% were above the medium at outcome 5.
  • The difference in FPOI performance for those pupils entitled to free school meals (eFSM) and those that were not (non FSM) had fallen again from 12% in 2014 to 13.7%.  Whilst this sustained the reduction from 21.5% in 2013, it remained an area of developmental need. 

With regard to progress in Key Stage 2: 

  • Standards of attainment at Level 4 continued to rise, albeit at a slower rate than in recent years, in all but Science, which had maintained the same high attainment as 2015 at 95.1%.
  • Performance at Level 5+, with the exception of English, which was comparable with the attainment of 2015 and Science which dipped by 0.2%, had risen again for the fourth consecutive year.  Most notable were the improvements in Welsh where attainment improved by a further 7.8%.  The improvement in all four main performance indicators showed significant improvement over three years of between 9.2 and 22.5%.
  • The core subject indicator, CSI, had increased by 0.6 percentage points this academic year.  This was the fourth consecutive rise and maintained the Vale’s rank as second in Wales for the third consecutive year.
  • With regard to benchmarking, at Level 4, the percentage of schools in the top half had increased this year in all five indicators.  The range was 55% (Science) to 70% (Maths).  At Level 5 there were increases in the percentage of schools in the top half in English and Welsh.  Of particular note was Welsh where all schools were in the top half, of which, 80% were in the top 25%.
  • The difference in CSI performance between eFSM and non FSM had decreased from 14.8% from 14%.  While this improvement was positive, it remained an area of focus. 

At Key Stage 3 Committee was informed that: 

  • Standards were good, having risen again in the year. 
  • At Level 5+ standards had improved, with an increase in all performance indicators.
  • The high expectations shared across the Authority had significantly impacted on the rise in standards at this level, with significant gains at Level 6+ in English, Mathematics and Science rising to 62.9%, 71.5% and 71.8% respectively.  Attainment in English remained lower than in the other subjects.
  • There were notable improvements at Level 7+ also, particularly in Mathematics which rose by 5% to 39.1%.
  • The improvements continued at the higher level with measurable gains in all indicators with the exception of Welsh which fell from 18.6% to 16.1%. Performance in Mathematics was particularly strong with 39.1% of learners achieving Level 7+.
  • The CSI had increased by a further 3.8% to 91.2%, maintaining the upward trend of the last four years.
  • Ranking for CSI at Key Stage 3 had improved from 5th to 4th in Wales. Benchmarking at Level 5+ and Level 6+ showed significant improvements in all indicators.  All schools were in the top two quarters for all indicators.
  • At Level 7+, benchmarking data reflected the improved performance in English, Mathematics and Science.  88% of schools had above median performance in English and Science whilst the performance in Maths increased to 100%.  Due to improvements in performance in Welsh in other Local Authorities and a slight dip in the Vale, performance in this indicator fell below the median.
  • The performance of eFSM pupils improved by 0.1% but, as a result of a 2.8% improvement in the performance of non FSM pupils, the gap had widened from 15.7% to 19.8%. It remained a focus for improvement. 

Progress at Key Stage 4: 

  • Provisional data indicated improved performance in Level 2 for Maths (+4.1%) and Science (+0.6%). Level 2 English and Welsh dipped by -2.6% and -0.3% respectively
  • The CSI showed a further increase of 3% in 2015/16 having increased by 3.8% in 2014/15.
  • The Level 2+ indicator had increased by 2.4 percentage points to 67.3%, ranking the Vale third in Wales.  However, two schools had a fall in Level 2+: Llantwit Major (-10%) and Stanwell (-5%).  Individual school performance at Key Stage 4
  • It was the extent of the increase in Level 2+ performance in the remaining schools that led to the improvement in the Local Authority Level 2+ performance.  Barry Comprehensive increased by 12%, St. Cyres by 11% and St. Richard Gwyn by 10%.
  • Based on last year's quartiles, Barry Comprehensive, St. Cyres and St. Richard Gwyn showed improvement in their benchmarking positions.  Further analysis of Barry Comprehensive's progress
  • For the Level 2+ threshold, the difference in performance between eFSM and non FSM was narrowing.  It was 37.4% last academic year and 28.4% in 2015/16.  While this was a significant improvement, it remained an area of focus.
  • When considering the Level 2+ performance of eFSM pupils, there were two schools where fewer than 35% of these pupils achieved the Level 2+ threshold: Ysgol Bro Morgannwg (22.22%), and Bryn Hafren (16.67%).  The best performing school with regard to this indicator was Cowbridge (85.71%). 

Progress at Key Stage 5: 

  • The percentage of pupils achieving the Level 3 threshold (equivalent to two A levels A*-E) increased from 97.6% to 97.8%
  • A level performance for the Local Authority improved from 75.55 to 77.3%% for A-C grades and from 97.5% to 98.1% for A*-E grades.  The percentage of entries achieving A* to A grades dipped to 22.3% from 22.9% last academic year.  Of particular note were the improvements in Bryn Hafren School and Barry Comprehensive School where Level 3 threshold improved by 5.3% and 8.5% respectively. 

It was noted that Barry Comprehensive School had been judged by Estyn as requiring significant improvement but the Lead Officer could advise that the school had recently been taken out of significant improvement, noting that the GCSE performance had demonstrated significant improvement in most measures.  In particular, the percentage of eFSM pupils attaining the Level 2+ had improved from 19% to 47%. 

 

St. Richard Gwyn had been sent a formal warning notice in September 2015 and had been given minimum expectations in key performance areas.  However, of significant note was that progress had been strong in most indicators following the results in 2016, notably in Level 2+ and Mathematics, both of which had improved by 10 percentage points.  The school would therefore be removed from the formal warning and congratulated on their progress.

 

With regard to Bryn Hafren Comprehensive school the school had been judged by Estyn as requiring significant improvement in March 2016 and despite making improvements in certain areas, it had failed to make the improvements required in some key indicators.  Estyn was therefore likely to revisit the school in the summer term 2017 and the Scrutiny Committee were recommended to reconvene a School Progress Panel meeting.

 

In considering the strengths as outlined within the report and the presentation, Members noted that for the Foundation Phase, there was a narrowing of performance between boys and girls at outcome 5 and that despite the narrowing performance between boys and girls at outcome 6, this remained a priority. 

 

The Lead Officer confirmed that although eFSM and non FSM pupils in the CSI for Key Stage 2 areas was narrowing, this would continue to be monitored.

 

Under Key Stage 3 there had been very good performance, with increases in all performance indicators and the gap between boys and girls was also reducing.  The performance of the eFSM pupils was also improving rapidly, however, this was still considered to be an area for improvement.  For Key Stage 4 there had been an increase at CSI, the Level 2+ had increased by 2.4PP to 67.3%, the gap between eFSM and non FSM was narrowing as well as the gap between boys and girls.  However, the Key Stage 4 areas for improvement were noted as English, performance of the eFSM pupils in Level 2+, Level 2 and Level 1.  At Key Stage 5 there had been an increase in pupils obtaining A*-C grades and the areas for improvement were noted as performance for A* to A and Level 3 threshold. 

 

Following a query in relation to the closure of the gender gap, Committee was informed that there had been considerable focus on improving the performance of boys and identifying teaching strategies and engagement strategies in order to ensure focus.  It had therefore been a change in learning needs and styles of learning which had been successful in narrowing this gap.  For Key Stage 5 Members were also informed that the information detailed all the examination boards’ statistics, including the Welsh Joint Education Board.

 

In response to a query regarding how the Welsh Baccalaureate contributed to the performance statistics, the Lead Officer advised that all pupils should be undertaking the Welsh Baccalaureate which had contributed to the overall figures. 

 

Following a query in relation to pupils’ attendance at universities such as Oxford and Cambridge, the Lead Officer agreed to look into the matter and report to the Committee as appropriate. 

 

In conclusion, the Chairman took the opportunity to thank the Lead Officer for a comprehensive report, noting that an exit strategy had been put in place in relation to Barry Comprehensive School.  The evidence also showed sustained improvements at the school year on year for over a period of four years, following which all Members congratulated the school on their progress.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T a School Progress Panel for Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School be re convened as soon as practicable, subject to Members’ availability, with the Democratic Services Officer being authorised to source substitute members if required. 

 

(2)       T H A T a report in relation to pupils applying / attending Oxford and Cambridge Universities, should the information be available, be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in due course.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In order that a review can be undertaken to determine the education outcomes for the school.

 

(2)       In order to apprise Members. 

 

 

461         QUARTER 1 (2016-17) PERFORMANCE REPORT: AN ASPIRATIONAL AND CULTURALLY VIBRANT VALE (IDLS) –

 

The report provided the Committee with details of the performance results for Quarter 1, 1st April to 30th June, 2016 for the Corporate Plan Well-being Outcome 3: “An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale” within the Committee’s remit.

 

As part of the review of its Performance Management Framework, the Council had recently adopted a new Corporate Plan (2016-20) which reflected the requirements of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 and identified four Well-being Outcomes and eight Objectives for the Council.  In order to ensure a more cross-cutting approach to scrutinising the Well-being Outcomes in the Corporate Plan and reduce potential for duplication, the remits of Scrutiny Committees had been re-aligned with the Well-being Outcomes contained in the Corporate Plan with performance reporting revised to reflect these arrangements. Service Plans had also been completed at Head of Service level and focused on the contribution made by those areas to the Council's Well-being Outcomes and Objectives.

 

Committee was informed that the performance report was structured as follows:

 

Section 1: Outcome Summary – Provided an overall summary of performance and highlighted the main developments, achievements and challenges for the quarter as a whole.  It included an evaluation of the progress made against actions and performance indicators as well as corporate health (resource) impacts which supported the overall RAG status for the Well-being Outcome.

 

Section 2: Performance Snapshot – Provided an overview for each Well-being Objective, describing the status of Corporate Plan actions and performance indicators.  A RAG status was attributed to each Well-being Objective to reflect overall progress to date and contributed to the overall RAG status for the Well-being Outcome.

 

Section 3: Key Achievements and Challenges – Highlighted the key achievements and challenges to date in achieving the intended outcomes for the Well-being Outcome.

 

Section 4: Corporate Health: Use of Resources and Impact on Improvement – Provided a summary of the key issues relating to the use of resources and the impact on delivering improvement during the quarter.  The focus was on key aspects relating to staffing, finance, assets, ICT, customer focus and risk management.

 

Appendix 1: Provided detailed information relating to the Service Plan actions which had contributed to Corporate Plan actions.

 

Appendix 2: Provided detailed performance indicator information linked to each Well-being Objective which showed for planned activities, how much had been done, how well the Council performed and what difference this had made.  This was the first year of reporting against the new Corporate Plan and the Council would continue to develop its key measures within each Well-being Objective to ensure they most accurately reflected its Corporate Plan Well-being Outcomes.

 

Appendix 3: Provided an explanation of the performance terms used within the report.  The performance report used the traffic light system, Red, Amber or Green (RAG) status and a Direction of Travel (DOT) to aid performance analysis. Progress was reported for all key performance indicators by allocating a RAG performance status, Green related to performance that had met or exceeded target, Amber related to performance within 10% of target and Red related to performance that had missed target by more than 10%.  A DOT arrow was also attributed to each measure indicating whether current performance had improved, stayed static or declined on last year’s first quarter performance.  An upward arrow indicated that performance had improved on the same quarter last year, a static arrow indicated performance had remained the same and a downward arrow showed performance had declined compared to the same quarter last year.

 

Of note was the fact that an overall Green RAG status had been attributed to Well-being Outcome 3 which reflected the positive progress made to date in making a difference to the lives of residents and its customers within a highly challenging environment. 

 

At Quarter 1, the report detailed that 14 out of the 16 Corporate Plan actions were on track to be delivered, giving an overall Green performance status.  However, a performance status had not been applied to one action as work was not scheduled to commence until Quarter 3 on a School Development Needs Assessment which would feed into a new school modernisation programme.  The establishment of community led libraries was also rated as Red in Quarter 1 due to the fact that none of the five libraries had been established by the deadline of 31st May, 2016.  Committee was however, advised that considerable progress was being made with community groups to develop legal agreements but there had been a delay with some of the groups acquiring charitable status.  The utilisation of European social funding to increase the number of young people aged 18 to 24 entering into employment or training was also rated as Amber as this could not be progressed pending WEFO (Welsh European Funding Office) confirmation of the Inspire to Work grant funding.  An overall Amber performance status had been attributed to the quarterly measures reported against this Outcome.  

 

Of five measures reported, three had missed target by more than 10%, one was within 10% of target and the remaining indicator had met target. The indicators that missed target by more than 10% related to visitor numbers to libraries, percentage of youth population making contact with the Youth Service and the number of accredited outcomes achieved by learners through the Youth Service.

 

The report also highlighted key achievements and challenges from the quarter as outlined between paragraphs 13 to 26 of the report. 

 

The Committee, in recognising that it was early days in the performance reporting process, agreed that it was useful to see how the services were going to develop and, in particular, noting the financial pressures facing the Directorate and its key challenges.  It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the performance report for Quarter 1 be noted and officers thanked for the work contained therein. 

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In recognition of the performance results and remedial action to be taken to address areas of underperformance and of the progress to date in achieving key outcomes in line with the Corporate Plan Well-being Outcome 3: All Vale of Glamorgan citizens have opportunities to achieve their full potential.

 

 

462         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.

 

 

463        CONSULTATION ON WELSH GOVERNMENT DRAFT STRATEGY: “A MILLION WELSH SPEAKERS BY 2050” (HDS) –

(Urgent by reason of the need to respond to Welsh Government by 31st October, 2016)

 

The Committee was requested to consider a proposed response to Welsh Government’s draft Strategy “A Million Welsh Speakers by 2050” and to refer any comments to Cabinet for consideration. 

 

On 1st August, 2016 Welsh Government had published a consultation document on a draft strategy with the deadline for responses by 31st October, 2016.  Appendix B to the report provided a proposed response to the Strategy addressing the questions asked in Welsh Government’s consultation. 

 

During the discussion a Member considered that an awareness-raising and publicity drive should be undertaken to encourage members of the public to send their children to Welsh Medium schools.  It was also suggested that the Vale Council should establish a centre for Welsh language and cultural issues and that the Urdd Eisteddfod should be invited to the Vale. 

 

The Chairman referred to the need for the Council to foster the normalisation of Welsh and to make the necessary changes to encourage people to speak and learn Welsh.  He stated that the development of social media in Welsh by the Council was great but that the Council needed to consider further developing the use of Welsh through this means and via education.  He considered that the education system and schools needed to promote the Welsh language and suggested examples such as the promotion of a Welsh newspaper, which could be provided on a monthly basis via electronic or paper means.  The Council should also consider giving Welsh a higher priority in relation to the workforce by considering more employment positions where Welsh was a requirement.  The establishment of an Immersion Centre similar to those that had been set up in Gwynedd and Ceredigion should also be considered for pupils to provide rapid immersion into Welsh speaking.  He further considered that welcoming the Urdd Eisteddfod to the Vale of Glamorgan would be an excellent move for pupils in the Vale.  The Chairman requested that such issues be recommended to Cabinet for consideration.

 

However, some Members stated that although they were advocates of the Welsh language, they considered it was not their role to make it a priority for parents to send their children to Welsh Medium schools.  It was an aspiration from Welsh Government to have a million Welsh speakers by 2050 but they felt that the Council would need to be careful how it was promoted.  A Member stated it was apparent that fewer than 1% of users contacted C1V in Welsh and that Council forms completed in Welsh also equated to less than 1%. 

 

The Head of Performance and Development stated that it was incumbent on the Local Authority to make it possible for people to do things in Welsh where possible and that the Council had to comply with legislation which contained those obligations.  Of relevance too, was the fact that the 2011 census had shown the figure of 11% in the Vale of Glamorgan who spoke Welsh, and their needs should be met.

 

The Interim Director for Learning and Skills advised that as an education department, the Council had developed a Welsh in Education Strategic Plan and had established two new seed schools to encourage growth in the number of children being educated through the medium of Welsh.  The Operational Manager for Strategy and Resources further advised that a revised version of the Strategic Plan  was currently in the process of being drafted, which would be reported to the Scrutiny Committee for further consideration in due course. 

 

Councillor S.T. Wiliam, not a Member of the Committee, with permission to speak, stated that the Council should be involved in creating a demand for Welsh and should therefore be promoting Welsh Medium education.  He stated that if the Council was serious about substantially increasing the number of Welsh speakers by 2050, it had to promote Welsh, and the establishment of an immersion centre similar to the one in Cardiff would be an excellent way forward for pupils and one which would assist in providing parents with more choice.

 

Although supporting the ambitions of Welsh Government, some Members stated that in their view it was up to parents as to whether or not they sent their children to Welsh Medium schools and that the Council should not be in the business of encouraging parents to do that.  This, they considered, could become an equality issue with regard to English medium education.   

 

Following the discussion, the Chairman recommended that his suggestions as outlined above, be forwarded to Cabinet however, upon being put to a vote, the motion was not carried and the Committee subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the proposed response attached at Appendix B to the report be accepted and referred to Cabinet for consideration together with the comments made at the meeting.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In light of the comments made at the meeting and the timescale of 31st October, 2016 to respond to Welsh Government consultation.