Top

Top

LEARNING AND CULTURE SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 13th February, 2017.

 

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

 

Co-opted Members: Dr. C. Brown (Parent Governor – Secondary Sector) and Mrs. J. Lynch-Wilson (Parent Governor – Primary Sector).

 

Non-Voting Observers: Mr. N. Want (Vale Youth Forum).

 

Also present: Councillors L. Burnett and E. Williams.

 

 

781     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – 

 

These were received from Councillors Ms. R. Birch, T.H. Jarvie, Mrs. A.J. Preston; Mr. D. Treharne (Welsh Medium Education) and Ms. T. Young (Secondary Sector). 

 

 

782     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST – 

 

Dr. C. Brown and Mrs. J. Lynch-Wilson declared an interest in Agenda Item No. 6 in that they were Parent Governors of Llantwit Major and St. Athan Primary Schools (respectively) and would leave the meeting should matters relating to those schools be discussed. 

 

Councillor Mrs. C.L. Curtis declared an interest in Agenda Item No. 7 stating that her husband was a member of the Humanist Society and she would leave the room when that matter was under discussion.

 

 

783     CENTRAL SOUTH CONSORTIUM CONTRIBUTION TO RAISING STANDARDS IN THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN SCHOOLS –

 

Ms. Hannah Woodhouse, Managing Director of the Central South Consortium (CSC), was present together with Councillor Huw David, Chairman of the Central South Consortium Joint Committee, to present the report. 

 

Ms. Woodhouse commenced by advising that Scrutiny Committees in each of the five Authorities invited the lead officer for the Authority to report on the performance of the schools in their Authority together with contributions from the Consortium at any stage of the year.  An Annual Report from the Consortium relating to progress in the previous academic year and the priorities for the year ahead was also provided. 

 

In referring to the CSC’s Business Plan for the financial year 2016/17, which could be found on the Consortium’s website www.cscjes.org.uk/About-Us, it was stated that the Business Plan included stretching and ambitious targets based on those targets set in each Local Authority whilst also reflecting school target setting.  The Business Plan set out how the CSC aimed to deliver the priorities to effective school self-evaluation and improvement planning, underpinned by building capacity in schools to support other schools for the development of the Central South Wales Challenge.  Committee was informed that the Consortium’s self-evaluation process regularly reviewed the impact of challenge and support and provided an update report to the Advisory Board and Joint Committee. 

 

Of note was the fact that part of the CSC’s self-evaluation was drawn from a specific evaluation programme which had been commissioned from Cardiff University and focused on the Central South Wales Challenge Programme to evidence impact over time on capacity in the system beyond the immediate school performance information.  Since 2012 it was noted that standards had improved rapidly compared to the national average across the region at every Key Stage.  In 2016 the region had continued to show strong improvement and was above the national average at every Key Stage for the first time and had remained above it for the second year in Key Stages 1, 2 and 4. 

 

In March 2016 the Consortium itself was inspected by Estyn where the inspection report recognised progress in establishing clear strategies, vision, delivery of consistent challenge and support as well as partnership working.  Three good judgements had been identified for leadership, improving quality and strategic partnerships with two adequate judgements relating to school improvement and use of resources.  Committee was reminded that the inspection report had previously been reported to the Scrutiny Committee detailing progress against the recommendations contained therein.

 

The Consortium’s self-evaluation report was updated on a regular basis and identified a number of areas for improvement for the region as a whole as outlined below:- 

  • Despite a narrowing of the gap, gaps for vulnerable learners, particularly eFSM learners, were still too wide;
  • There was significant underachievement by boys in languages;
  • There remained wide variation in secondary outcomes with a small number of very vulnerable secondary schools making progress too slowly;
  • More able learners’ outcomes were improving but could go further particularly at Key Stage 5 (post 16);
  • Leadership capacity in the system and recruitment to core subject teaching posts remained a challenge;
  • Challenge Advisors’ reporting was improving but judgements regarding teaching and leadership needed to be made more robustly;
  • There was evidence to link most school to school working to impact, but more needed to be done to evidence sustainable impact through evaluation and deepen the impact of enquiry led practice at the classroom level;
  • There was more to do to build system leadership behaviours from many heads;
  • Implementation of performance management needed to be tighter for staff and there was more to do to embed a culture of self-evaluation and business planning in order to evidence value for money;
  • There was further work to do with elected Members and Governors to raise awareness and improve co-ordinated scrutiny of the Consortium. 

The financial year 2017/18 Business Plan would set out how the organisation would, as far as possible, respond to strategic challenges and address areas for improvement along with the Estyn recommendations through a detailed resourced plan developed with input from schools, staff and Local Authorities.

 

The final Business Plan for the financial year 17/18 would be presented to the Joint Committee for approval in March 2017.  The Plan would have five areas of focus:  

1.         Improving outcomes for vulnerable learners through effective partnership work with inclusion services;

2.         Delivering curriculum reform through school to school working;

3.         Improving leadership, governance and workforce reform;

4.         Rapid and sustainable intervention;

5.         Delivering value for money.

 

In referring specifically to the Vale of Glamorgan, Scrutiny reports to the Committee had shown that the standards in 2016 were at least good in all Key Stages and over the last three years improvements were evident in all indicators, with good performance at the higher levels and very good progress at Key Stage 3.  In comparing performance with other Local Authorities, ranking data demonstrated that the Vale of Glamorgan performed above its indicative rank position of fifth in most areas.  The report highlighted in particular that: 

  • “At Foundation Phase, despite a slight dip in the percentage of pupils who achieved the Foundation Phase outcome indicator (FPOI), the Vale of Glamorgan’s ranking improved to second for this indicator;
  • At Key Stage 2, the percentage of pupils achieving the core subject indicator  increased further and remained the second highest when compared to the performance of other Local Authorities;
  • At Key Stage 3, the percentage of pupils achieving the core subject indicator increased by 3.8 percentage points and the ranking from fifth to fourth.
  • At Key Stage 4 the percentage of pupils achieving 5 GCSE passes at grades A* - C including English / Welsh and mathematics (known as the Level 2 + measure) improved in the Vale of Glamorgan by 2.2 percentage points to 67.1% which was the second highest in Wales.  The national average for the L2+ was 60.3%.” 

The report also detailed the challenge and support provided by the Consortium on behalf of the Vale of Glamorgan Council and referred to specific support as outlined below: 

  • “Nine schools were part of pathfinder pairings in the Local Authority.  Of the nine, five provided support and four received support.  The focus of work was tailored to the needs of each school with support from Challenge Advisors who brokered the partnerships and monitored progress and evaluated the impact;
  • Most Vale schools had been involved in School Improvement Group (SIG) working, and during 2015/16 SIGs including Vale schools had focused on literacy, numeracy, teaching and pedagogy, pupil voice, leadership, ICT and digital curriculum framework (DCF) assessment and science.  SIGs were reviewed annually and had to provide a report on their priorities and impact against their priorities twice a year in order to be funded;
  • Four Vale of Glamorgan schools had engaged in the peer enquiry programme, which supported headteachers working in triads to review and evaluate focus areas in each school and then providing a detailed report on the strengths and areas for improvement;
  • The Consortium had invested heavily in leadership provision in the 2015/16 year.  This had included opportunities to support another school with leadership capacity or coaching, leadership of school to school provision and direct leadership programmes.  Of these, seven headteachers had undertaken the New to Headship Programme; two headteachers had undertaken the Strategic Headship Programme; eight headteachers had completed the Consultant Headship Programme; four secured places on the Headship Now! Programme;
  • There had been one Schools Challenge Cymru Advisor in the Vale of Glamorgan and in addition, the Foundation Phase, Welsh in Education, Hwb+ and Qualified for Life teams based in school improvement hubs had also supported Vale schools as part of their grant funded operation;
  • Vale of Glamorgan schools involved in providing support as part of the Hub programme included:

-       Romilly Primary, Cadoxton Primary, Rhws Primary, Stanwell School, Cowbridge Comprehensive, Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg – Professional Learning Continuum

-       Sully Primary School, Cowbridge Comprehensive– Welsh second language

-       Cadoxton Nursery (now amalgamated with Cadoxton Primary) – Foundation Phase

-       Ysgol Gymraeg Sant Curig, Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg – Welsh first language

-       Stanwell School – mathematics

-       Bryn Hafren Comprehensive– Modern Foreign Languages

-       Cadoxton Primary– Digital Competence.

 

The following schools were identified as Welsh Government Pioneer Schools:

-       Romilly Primary, Cadoxton Primary, Rhws Primary, Barry Island Primary, Cowbridge Comprehensive, Stanwell School, Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg, Ysgol Gymraeg Sant Curig and  Albert Primary.

 

The following being identified as lead practitioners:

-       Stanwell School, Cowbridge Comprehensive, All Saints CiW Primary, Barry Island, St. David’s CiW Primary.

 

In referring to a number of issues which the CSC needed to make faster progress on, Committee was advised of the following: 

  • Continued focus on the achievement of pupils eligible for free school meals across the region;
  • Alignment with Schools Challenge Cymru (SCC).  We have a SCC lead in the region and six SCC advisors.  We have Accelerated Learning Boards and Improvement plans from all SCC schools, but we need to continue to focus on making sure SCC, the Consortium and the Authority are working together efficiently;
  • Analysis of Key Stage 2 and 3 tests had indicated variation of teacher assessment and moderation.  The national approach to verification of teacher assessment has been shown to be rigorous and impactful, this would continue to be an area of focus for 2016-2017;
  • Continue to work with all Human Resource departments and governor support teams to embed consistency and quality advice for schools regardless of where they were in the region;
  • Improved use of information systems across the region through the development of Cronfa as a single point of information for schools, Local Authorities and Consortium colleagues across the region. 

Councillor Huw David, the Chairman of the Joint Committee, reiterated that the CSC region had seen the most improvement at every Key Stage for a number of years. He also took the opportunity to congratulate the Vale as the schools in the Vale had been very much in the lead with these improvements, being first, second and third in many of the rankings.  In referring to the areas of improvement, he stated that the Consortium would continue to deliver, identify and address these issues, acknowledging that part of the system was a self-improving system where the answers could be found in the schools and through leadership via headteachers on the front line.  

 

In recognising that the final categorisation of Councils had been published on 31st January, a number of Members requested that the information be sent to all Members.  Of note was the fact that within the Vale 43% of schools had been categorised as Green, 41.5% as Yellow, 12% as Amber and 3.5% as Red.

 

In considering Vale schools, reference was made to the previous Estyn inspections reported to the Committee at the last meeting and the confidential information at the last meeting in relation to Palmerston which had now been released by Estyn. Members stated that they had requested that letters of congratulations be extended to the schools and in particular following the release of the inspection report wished to offer they congratulations to Palmerston who had received excellent results in their Inspection.

 

The Managing Director of the Consortium then referred to Professor Graham Donaldson’s report on successful futures advising that a review had been undertaken of curriculum assessment arrangements in Wales from Foundation Phase to Key Stage 4.  The Chairman of the Consortium advised that he would expect every school to have read the document and consider how they themselves were assessing teaching, together with a need for Governors to challenge the school on how they intend achieving the recommendations outlined within the report.  Ten schools in the Vale were currently involved in shaping the development of the curriculum with the suggestion being put forward that a presentation on their work be presented to a future meeting of the Scrutiny Committee, it being noted that every school could have the opportunity to benefit from learning experiences that could be afforded from such work.

 

The Interim Director of Learning and Skills advised that as a result of a change to the content and assessment of certain GCSEs, secondary schools were finding it difficult to set targets in some subject areas.  Although progress at Key Stage 4 had been good over the last four years, the same linear progression could not be expected in the summer.  It was important to recognise that each school should be looked at in an individual context and then benchmarked against other similar schools. 

 

Following a comment from a Member as to whether assistance was being afforded to teachers to encourage their development into future headteacher positions the Chairman of the Joint Committee advised that a programme had commenced whereby the Consortium provides support and skills training to teachers in particular, to newly appointed headteachers.  It was imperative that proper support was provided although it was noted that more could be done.  Welsh Government had also recognised the issue was a problem across the whole of Wales and that the pool needed to grow in order to ensure there were headteachers for the future with the right skills.  The Leadership Academy announced by the Minister Kirsty Williams was designed to learn from regions, with the hope that every school would be able to identify future leaders within the school and mechanisms put in place to develop them from within.

 

In response to a query from the Chairman as to whether any further work had been undertaken in relation to ensuring a number of schools obtain the right levels of support, the Lead Officer for School Improvement advised that a number of days were offered in line with the national model, but the important factor was to ensure that the category was right from the outset.  Although acknowledging that the categorisation system determined the level of support, the Chairman of the Consortium stated that, in his view, the system should be more flexible and be able to respond to changes throughout the year.  The Lead Officer confirmed that although up to ten days could be provided of the Challenge Advisor’s time, additional support could also be given and that there was a significant menu of support that could be used for schools.  The Interim Director confirmed that across the region they would be looking to review the number of days allocated to each category of school ahead of a Welsh Government review of the national model.  The work of the CSC in this area could influence this aspect of the national model. 

 

The Chairman took the opportunity to thank Ms. Hannah Woodhouse and Councillor David for their attendance and to wish the Managing Director all the best in the future as she was leaving the Consortium for pastures new.

 

Having considered the report, the presentation and the evidence presented, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the performance across the Central South region in 2016 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T letters of congratulation on behalf of the Committee be sent to schools identified as Green and those most improved.

 

(3)       T H A T, notwithstanding the letters to be sent to schools agreed at the previous meeting, a letter be also sent to Palmerston School in recognition of the excellent inspection report received.

 

(4)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee receives a report at a future meeting in respect of the Donaldson Review.

 

(5)       T H A T the Consortium report be referred to Cabinet for consideration and stressing the need to ensure that all schools consider the implications of the Donaldson Report.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure Members are aware of performance of the Vale of Glamorgan in relation to the role of the Central South Consortium and to note the challenge and support provided by the Central South Consortium on behalf of the Vale of Glamorgan Directorate of Learning and Skills.

 

(2&3)  To offer the Committee’s congratulations to the schools.

 

(4)       To apprise Members.

 

(5)       To advise Cabinet of performance to date and the implications of the Donaldson Review.

 

 

784     WELSH LANGUAGE PROMOTION STRATEGY (HPD) –

 

The Committee’s comments were sought on the Council’s revised Welsh Language Promotion Strategy attached at Appendix A to the report following the consultation that had been undertaken.  The report outlined that the Welsh Language Commissioner had issued every Local Authority in Wales with a Compliance Notice which included a list of 172 Standards in September 2015. 

 

Standard 145 of the Compliance Notice required the Council to produce and publish a five year strategy which set out how the Council would promote and facilitate the use of the Welsh language more widely in the Vale of Glamorgan.  A public consultation on the draft Strategy for the Vale of Glamorgan ran for a period of six weeks from December 2016 to January 2017 and the draft Strategy had been considered by the Committee at its meeting on 12th December, 2016 as part of the consultation. 

 

In addition to comments received in that meeting, the Council had also received feedback on the draft strategy from a number of stakeholders, including:

 

Menter Bro Morgannwg
Operational Manager for Leisure, Vale of Glamorgan Council
Vale of Glamorgan Council Children and Young People's Partnership
Vale of Glamorgan Council Sport and Play Development
Operational Manager, Strategy and Resources
Governing Body of Evenlode Primary School
Flying Start, Vale of Glamorgan Council
School Improvement and Inclusion, Vale of Glamorgan Council
Vale of Glamorgan residents.

 

Appendix B to the report outlined the responses received and where appropriate they reflected the revised Strategy.  On the whole the feedback had been mostly positive, with some of the requested amendments to the action plan designed to ensure that the actions were appropriate and achievable. 

 

Following a query from Members regarding the resource implications, it was noted that funding was derived from a number of sources but that it was not envisaged that additional resources would be required. 

 

The Vale Youth Forum representative queried the implementation of the Strategy as to the impression being given that Welsh was being forced on pupils.  The Interim Director advised that two strategies had been adopted within schools, one in the Welsh Strategic Plan in order to address the social use of Welsh in communities and that under the National Curriculum the Local Authority had to ensure that Welsh was part of the curriculum and that it was delivered accordingly.  The system going forward she stated was about encouraging people of all ages to learn Welsh and the Authority needed to consider the number of different ways of addressing this.  It was noted that although Welsh was taught in English medium secondary schools, it did not actually equip people to speak Welsh outside of school.

 

There being no comments to make to Cabinet, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Welsh Language Promotion Strategy be noted.

 

Reason for decision

 

In recognition of the contents contained within the report following the consultation.

 

 

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

 

In presenting the report, the Principal Accountant advised that for Strategy, Culture, Community Learning and Resources, the service was projected to outturn with a favourable variance of £286k after a transfer from reserves of £467k.  The net underspend being as a result of early implementation of 2017/18 savings, a reduction in the number of supported non-maintained nursery settings, a number of vacancies throughout the Department, an increase in ICT support packages purchased by schools, a projected underspend on the Catering Service of £61k and a recent rates rebate for school buildings of £135k. 

 

For the service Achievement for All, this was projected to outturn with an adverse variance of £280k after a transfer from reserves of £672k.  This was as a result of an adverse variance of £793k on the recoupment income budget and an adverse variance on pupil placements of £268k.  This position could be partly offset by projected salary underspends of £162k which were due to vacant posts in the service as a result of early implementation of 2017/18 Reshaping Services savings.  However £53k would need to be transferred into the Youth Reserve to fund the G2E project in 2017/18 whilst the service undertakes a restructure.  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 had left Ysgol y Deri than new pupils had enrolled.  The main reason for this reduction in out of county pupils was due to other Local Authorities seeking to educate their children within county and to source cheaper alternatives due to budget reductions.  However the school was still operating near to capacity due to an increase in demand from Vale pupils requiring placements.  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.  Therefore, as an initial measure £500k had already 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.  However, if this shortfall of £172k could not be mitigated further in the year, other reserves could be utilised to balance the shortfall made up of £94k from the Excluded Pupils reserve and £78k from the Adult Community Learning reserve.

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed the list of savings to be achieved in the financial year for the Committee, and Appendix 3 detailed the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st December, 2016.

 

Following a query regarding St. Andrews Major fencing, it was noted that the start of the scheme had been delayed due to ecology issues on the site, however the Accountant could confirm that these had now been resolved and that the work was scheduled to commence in the school Easter holidays April 2017. 

 

With regard to Ysgol Bro Morgannwg and the renewal of the sewage pumps, due to staff vacancies within the Property Section this scheme had been delayed but the Interim Director of Learning and Skills advised that the issue was now being addressed and taken forward. 

 

It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the 2016/17 revenue and capital monitoring be noted and that the Committee supports the monies to be carried forward and vired in respect of the schemes outlined at paragraphs 16 to 23 contained within the report.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To apprise Members and in recognition of the information provided at the meeting.

 

 

786     SCHOOL PLACE PLANNING IN THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN (IDLS) –

 

Committee was provided with an annual update on the progress made by the Vale of Glamorgan Council with regard to reducing surplus school places.  Appendix A to the report showed the percentage surplus capacity / oversubscription for all Vale schools as at the January 2016 Pupil Level Annual School Census (PLASC). 

 

The Operational Manager for Strategy and Resources, in presenting the report, advised that projections as of January 2015 had been revised for January 2016 and had demonstrated a greater than expected increase in surplus capacity for the secondary sector and an overall reduction in surplus capacity for the primary sector in excess of the agreed target.

 

Four secondary schools: Barry Comprehensive, Llantwit Comprehensive, Ysgol Bro Morgannwg and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive continued to have in excess of 25% surplus capacity as at PLASC January 2016.  A number of large scale initiatives as outlined below were making significant progress in addressing this, with the anticipated outcomes being reflected in the January 2018 PLASC and subsequent years:

 

Barry Comprehensive and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive schools had seen an increase in the number of parents of pupils in the feeder primary schools applying to other schools at the Year 6 transfer stage.  The Council had recently published a statutory notice on a proposal to establish two new mixed sex secondary schools in response to the community's desire for mixed sex secondary education, and the need to invest in the learning environments of both school buildings to bring them up to 21st Century standards.  If approved, the proposal would result in the capacity of the new schools being reduced to 1,100, down from 1,423 (Barry Comprehensive) and 1,331 (Bryn Hafren Comprehensive).  The determination of the consultation would be made in March 2017.

 

The secondary phase at Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg was showing a surplus capacity of 27.45%, however this number would reduce significantly from September 2018 when Year 6 pupils from Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg's primary phase (formally Ysgol Nant Talwg), as well as from Ysgol Dewi Sant fed into the secondary sector.  As was the case with the seed school model used to establish Ysgol Dewi Sant and Nant Talwg, the expansion of Ysgol Gwaun y Nant in Barry would see the gradual phasing in of new year groups.  This meant that it would be several years before these additional pupils started to feed into the secondary sector. Surplus capacity at Llantwit Comprehensive School would be reduced as a result of the school's redevelopment.  The new school building was scheduled to open in February 2017 with the reduction in capacity and surplus places being reflected in the January 2018 PLASC.

 

From 2018 onwards, secondary school pupil numbers were expected to increase as existing larger primary feeder cohorts entered the secondary system together with pupils emanating from ongoing housing developments at Barry Waterfront, Rhoose and Wenvoe.

 

As of January 2016, surplus places across primary schools had continued to fall, to an average of 8.18%, compared to 10.08% in January 2015, continuing to exceed the agreed target of 10.19%.  Projections for 2017 indicated that this trend would continue with surplus places continuing to be less than the Welsh Government guideline level of a maximum of 10% in each sector.

 

In 2015, three primary schools; Holton, Oakfield and Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant, were reported as being in excess of 25% capacity.  As at PLASC 2016, Oakfield and Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant continued to be in excess of 25% surplus capacity.  Holton had reduced its surplus capacity by 10%, down to 15.71%, following a review of the school's use of accommodation.  The number of schools in this category continued to fall year-on-year.

 

Projections suggested that Oakfield Primary School would see a reduction in surplus places to approximately 18% by September 2019.  Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant would see a reduction to approximately 16% by September 2019.  Ysgol Dewi Sant opened as a seed school in September 2011 with a Reception class only and was expanding incrementally over seven years as year groups worked their way through the school. The school would be operating to a full age range of a Reception class to Year 6 in September 2017.

 

Although recognising that data needed to be verified, Members were frustrated that the information provided related to the previous year, although the Operational Manager tried to offer reassurance by stating that he was aware that things were going in the right direction.

 

Members queried whether information was also available in relation to out of county pupils and Eastern Vale catchment areas.  In referring to the Eastern Vale a Member advised that, in their view, there was sufficient space for every pupil resident for the catchment area for the schools, but what was difficult to identify was what the surplus places would be if the schools did not have pupils attending from the Cardiff or Barry areas.  The Operational Manager stated that this data was currently being considered, although he did not have it available at the meeting but he was happy to speak to the Member separately on the issue if required.

 

The Vice-Chairman, in querying the figures, referred to his concerns in relation to Oakfield School where pupil numbers, since 2012, were not showing increases.  The Operational Manager confirmed that year on year for Oakfield the numbers had been increasing from within catchment.  Following a further query from the Member as to whether the Council envisaged changing its policy in relation to catchment areas, the Interim Director for Learning and Skills advised that as and when necessary she would consider requesting changes to catchment areas if appropriate.  Parental choice was agreed to be a difficult issue acknowledging that it takes time for patterns in choice of schools to change.

 

Following a query as to whether the Education Department considered the LDP and planning process when projecting figures for schools, the Interim Director confirmed that the Department did project plan as part of the LDP although it was often difficult to predict numbers as in some cases the housing development did not materialise and the composition of families and age of the children was difficult to predict with any accuracy.  It was however, she stated, important to note that Section 106 negotiations were undertaken in a robust way in order to negotiate the best possible outcome for schools.  The Cabinet Member confirmed that Section 106 monies were negotiated well for schools and where necessary surplus land was sold to generate capital receipts for reinvestment in schools.  Committee, in accepting that the issue of surplus places was moving in the right direction, subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the performance on school place planning and the progress made to reduce the number of surplus places since 2012 be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In consideration of the measures taken to manage school places across the Vale of Glamorgan and of current performance against set targets.

 

 

787     HUMANIST REPRESENTATIVE ON THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL’S STANDING ADVISORY COUNCIL ON RELIGIOUS EDUCATION (SACRE) (IDLS) –

 

Committee was informed that all Local Authorities were required to constitute a Standing Advisory Council on Religious Education (SACRE) within their local area, with the main function of a SACRE being to: 

  • advise the Local Authority on collective worship in county schools and the religious education to be given in accordance with the agreed syllabus including methods of teaching, advice on materials and the provision of training for teachers;
  • consider whether to recommend to the Local Authority that its current agreed syllabus should be reviewed by convening an Agreed Syllabus Conference;
  • consider whether the requirement that religious worship in a county school should be “broadly Christian in nature” should be varied (determinations); and
  • report to the Local Authority and the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) on its activities on an annual basis. 

The Vale of Glamorgan Cabinet at its meeting on 19th October, 2015 determined that its SACRE should comprise of six Elected Members representing the Local Authority, twelve representatives of Christian and other religious groups and eight representatives of teachers’ associations.  Four co-opted places were also available to be decided upon at the Committee’s discretion.  Youth co-opted members as having an interest in religious education and collective worship and to assist the Committee in its functions. 

 

An application had been received for Humanist Representative on the Vale of Glamorgan SACRE from the Wales Humanist Development Officer.  However, following the application, the Vale of Glamorgan SACRE met to consider the request, where it was agreed that the application should be refused on the basis that the SACRE did not consider Humanism to be a religion or a denomination of a religion for the purposes of Section 390 of the Education Act 1996. 

 

The Vale of Glamorgan SACRE considered that Humanism was a non-religion and available evidence suggested that a Humanist representative would not serve to proportionally represent recognised religious traditions within the Vale.  The remit of a SACRE was to deal with religious education and collective worship and the Vale of Glamorgan SACRE felt therefore that there was no obligation to have Humanist representation.  Advice on the matter had been sought from the Equality and Human Rights Commission and that advice could be found at Appendix D to the report.

 

A full equality impact assessment was also conducted on the impact of the recommendation by the Vale of Glamorgan SACRE to decline the application for Humanist representation on the SACRE and a copy of that assessment was attached at Appendix E to the report. 

 

The outcome of the Equality Impact Assessment was to adjust the policy, with the following considerations: 

  • A recommendation for the Vale of Glamorgan SACRE to consider a voluntary extension of membership to include a co-opted member of the Humanist belief.  Additionally it should be made clear that any decision did not preclude any applications from other relevant belief / non-belief groups in the future and any further decisions would be made taking into account the specific context of that application;
  • A recommendation that the Vale of Glamorgan Equalities Department review whether there were any measures available to identify the current number of Humanists in the Vale of Glamorgan. 

A Member of the Scrutiny Committee advised that the Oxford English Dictionary stated that the word “religion” means “the belief in and worship of a super human controlling power especially a personal god or gods” and as a result in that context Humanism did not fit into the definition by its very nature.

 

Following a query from the Chairman as to whether the Council could collect details of Humanist numbers in the future, the Operational Manager advised that information on “non-religious belief” was collected in the national census.

 

Having fully considered the report and the recommendations of SACRE, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the recommendation of SACRE to decline the application for Humanist representation on SACRE be endorsed and Cabinet be informed accordingly. 


Reason for recommendation

 

Having considered the recommendation of SACRE and the advice and correspondence at Appendix D to the report be sought from the Equality and Human Rights Commission.

 

 

788     CORPORATE SAFEGUARDING UPDATE (REF) –

 

Cabinet had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration at its meeting on 23rd January, 2017, which had provided an update on work done to ensure effective corporate arrangements for safeguarding and protecting children and adults who required specific Council services.

 

The law relating to the safeguarding and protection of children from harm was set out in a variety of legislation, secondary legislation and guidance.  The duties imposed on a Local Authority were to safeguard and protect children from harm, to make investigations into circumstances in which they may arise, safeguarding issues and duties to make arrangements for ensuring that the function to the Local Authorities were discharged, having regard to the need to safeguard and report the welfare of children. 

 

Committee was reminded that previously safeguarding activities undertaken from different parts of the Council was reported separately.  This method of reporting had changed with the reports now being presented as detailed at Appendix 1 to the report.  This report brought together the wide range of work undertaken collectively by the Authority and within each Directorate and was designed to ensure a greater transparency and accountability as well as a more holistic picture.  Members were reminded that of note was the fact that the Social Services and Wellbeing Wales Act 2014 came into effect in April 2016 and had brought about significant changes.  There was a new duty on relevant partners to report to the Local Authority if they suspected that an adult was in an adult at risk position.  The Act also imposed a duty on a Local Authority to report to another Local Authority if an adult suspected of being an adult at risk was living in or moving to another area. 

 

Revisions to the Corporate Safeguarding Policy were being made to ensure staff were informed about the requirements set out in the new statutory framework and processes and procedures would need to be reviewed, partly to help inform people who may want to raise concerns about individuals at risk and also to clarify responsibilities for responding to such enquiries and notifications. 

 

The Head of Achievement for All, in presenting the report, referred to the fact that the Senior Management Team were updated regularly on Corporate Safeguarding issues and time and effort, including training, had been invested in staff.  Partnership working with the Governor Support Unit to train Governors had also been implemented.  Considerable work with schools relating to self - evaluation was also taking place and progress had been made in relation to the Education Department’s compliance with the Safer Recruitment Policy. 

 

In recognising that the Committee would continue to receive six monthly reports and would no doubt be notified sooner if there were any issues resulting from any issues of corporate safeguarding, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the work undertaken to improve corporate arrangements for safeguarding and protecting children and adults be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To apprise Members.

 

 

789     3RD QUARTER SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND UPDATED WORK PROGRAMME SCHEDULE 2016/17 (MD) –

 

The purpose of the report was to advise Members of progress in relation to the Scrutiny Committee’s recommendations and to confirm the work programme schedule for the Scrutiny Committee for 2016/17 for the third quarter, October to December 2016 attached at Appendix A and the updated work programme schedule for 2016/17 attached at Appendix B to the report.

 

Committee was requested to consider the recommendations, review progress and assess whether further action may be required, ensure the required action was undertaken and to confirm which recommendations were to be agreed as completed. 

 

In referring to Minute No. 460 – School Performance Report 2016-16: Foundation Phase and Key Stages 2-5, the Democratic Services Officer advised that the Bryn Hafren report was aimed to be presented to the March meeting of the Committee.

 

Following a query from a Member regarding the items scheduled for the April 2017 meeting, it was noted that no meeting was scheduled in the calendar of meetings for April but if required the Chairman could call a meeting if deemed appropriate.

 

Having considered the contents of the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the recommendations deemed as completed at Appendix A be accepted as outlined below:

 

03 October 2016

Min. No. 407 – Proposal   to Establish New Mixed Sex Secondary Schools in Barry (REF) – Recommended that Cabinet   be advised that the Scrutiny Committee concurred with the current option   proposed and urge progress in respect of the matter.

Cabinet,   on 31st October, 2016, noted the report.

(Min.   No. C3338 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 408 – Review of   Individual Schools Progress Meetings (MD) – Recommended

(3)   That the Action Plan continues to be   monitored and reviewed by the Scrutiny Committee in 12 months' time.

(4)   That all reports of School Progress Panel   meetings continue to be referred to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration.

(5)   That the report and appendices be referred   to the Central South Consortium's Managing Director for consideration.

(7)   That the report and the above   recommendations be referred to Cabinet for consideration. 

 

 

 

(3)   Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

 

(4)   Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

(5)   Letter sent to CSC on 19th   October, 2016.

Completed

 

(7)   Cabinet, on 31st October, 2016,   noted the contents of the report and resolved

[2]   That Cabinet   would request Individual School Progress Panels to convene if they decided it   was necessary.

[3]   That the Cabinet   Member for Regeneration and Education be nominated to sit on the School   Progress Panel Review Group and a progress report be presented to Cabinet at   a future meeting.

(Min.   No. C3339 refers)

Completed

17 October 2016

Min. No. 457 – St. Cyres   – Budget Recovery Plan 2016/17 – 2020/21 (MD) – Recommended

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

 

 

 

Added   to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 458 – Schools   Balances as at 31st March, 2016 (IDLS) – Recommended

(2)   That 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.

 

 

 

Added   to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 459 – Revenue   and Capital Monitoring for the Period 1st April to 31st   August 2016 (IDLS) – Recommended

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

 

 

 

 

Added   to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 460 –  School Performance Report 2015-2016:   Foundation Phase and Key Stages 2 – 5 (REF) – Recommended

(2)   That 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.

 

 

 

 

Added   to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 463 – Consultation on Welsh Government Draft Strategy: “A   Million Welsh Speakers by 2050” (HDS) – Recommended that 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.

 

 

 

Cabinet,   on 31st October, 2016, noted the contents of the report and   resolved

[2]   That the proposed response to Welsh   Government’s draft Strategy “A Million Welsh Speakers by 2050” attached at   Appendix B to the report be approved and referred to Welsh Government.

(Min.   No. C3341 refers)

Completed

14 November 2016

Min. No. 525 – Arts   Development – Museums Heritage, Arts Venues, Libraries, Creative Industries   and Accessible Art (IDLS) – Recommended

(1)   That the report be referred to Cabinet for   consideration advising that the Committee would support the desire to explore   and establish a business plan to explore different delivery models.

 

 

 

 

Cabinet,   on 12th December, 2016, noted the contents of the report and   resolved

[2]   That an option appraisals report on this   matter be bought back to Cabinet at a later date.

(Min.   No. C3389 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 526 – Welsh   Public Library Standards Assessment 2015-2016 (IDLS) – Recommended

(3)   That the Scrutiny Committee receives   further update reports with regard to any future innovations considered for   the Library Service in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

 

 

Added   to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 527 – Individual   Schools Performance Progress Panel [Barry Comprehensive] (IDLS) – Recommended

(1)   That an update report be presented to the   Scrutiny Committee as soon as possible following the GCSE results in August   2017.

(3)   That the report be referred to the Cabinet   for its consideration.

 

 

 

 

(1)   Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

 

(3)   Cabinet, on 12th December,   2016, noted the contents of the report.

(Min.   No. C3388 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 529 – Summary of   School Inspection Reports for Summer Term 2016 (IDLS) – Recommended

(4)   That the Chairman, on behalf of the   Scrutiny Committee, writes to Ysgol Pen Y Garth, Dinas Powys Primary and Rhws   Primary schools, congratulating them on the reports received in respect of   current performance and prospects for improvement.

 

 

 

Letters   sent to schools on 30th December, 2016.

Completed

Min. No. 530 – 2nd   Quarter Scrutiny Decision Tracking of Recommendations and Updated Work   Programme Schedule 2016/17 (MD) – Recommended

(2)   That the forward work programme attached   at Appendix C to the report be approved and uploaded to the Council’s   website.

 

 

 

 

 

Work   programme schedule uploaded to the Council’s website.

Completed

12 December 2016

Min. No. 603 – Draft   Welsh Language Promotion Strategy (REF) – Recommended that Cabinet be informed of   the views of the Committee and following the results of the consultation, a   further report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration.

 

 

After   presenting this item, the Leader commented that the points raised by the   Scrutiny Committee would be considered as part of the consultation process   and would be incorporated into a future report to be presented to Cabinet at   a later date.

Cabinet,   on 23rd January, 2017, noted the contents of the report.

(Min   No. C3428 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 607–   Presentation from the Interim Director of Learning and Skills on the   Challenges and Issues of the Service Area (Request for Consideration of   Matter: Councillor C.P. Franks) – Recommended that the Interim Director of Learning   and Skills be thanked for her comprehensive presentation and it be noted that   future reports would be presented to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration   in due course.

 

 

 

 

 

Added   to work programme schedule.

Completed

 

(2)       T H A T the updated work programme shown at Appendix B be approved and uploaded to the Council’s website.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In recognition of progress to date.

 

(2)       For information.