LEARNING AND CULTURE SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 22nd January, 2018.

 

Present:  Councillor L. Burnett (Chairman); Councillor A. Hampton (Vice-Chairman); Councillors B.T. Gray, M. Lloyd, M.J.G. Morgan, Mrs. J.M. Norman, Ms. S.D. Perkes and Mrs. M. Wright.

 

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

 

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

 

Also present:  Councillor R.A. Penrose (Cabinet Member for Learning and Culture) and Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson.

 

 

622     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillor N.P. Hodges and Mr. P. Burke (Roman Catholic Church).

 

 

623     MINUTES – 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 11th December, 2017 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

624     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

625     CORPORATE SAFEGUARDING MID TERM REPORT – APRIL – SEPTEMBER (2017/18) (REF) –

 

The report had been referred to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration by Cabinet at its meeting on 18th December, 2017  with it being noted that Cabinet would continue to receive six monthly reports on work carried out to improve corporate safeguarding arrangements and the effectiveness of relevant policies.

 

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

 

The Corporate Safeguarding Working Group had been established in the Vale of Glamorgan as a result of the 2011 CSSIW and Estyn joint report following their investigation into the way Pembrokeshire County Council managed allegations of professional abuse and its arrangements for safeguarding and protecting children in education.  The Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014 (the Act) was implemented in April 2016 and brought about changes in particular relating to the introduction  of a duty to report which meant a revision of the Corporate Safeguarding Policy to bring staff’s attention to the duty. 

 

The report also noted that the new “Working Together to Safeguard People Statutory Guidance: Volume 1-4” issued under Part 7 of the new Act had also been published.  Guidance on handling individual cases (Volumes 5 and 6) to protect children and adults at risk had been launched for public consultation by Welsh Government on 31st January, 2017 and the consultation had closed on 25th April, 2017. 

 

In presenting the report, the Safeguarding Officer within the division of School Improvement and Inclusion referred to the key message that although there was a considerable amount of work going on there was continual progress and constant evaluation, with the department consistently strengthening and improving the work undertaken.   The Directorate was also mindful of national and regional agendas and with particular regard to the role of Designated Safeguarding Governors in schools, he stated that this was one of the areas that the department needed to support further.  All schools had to have a Designated Guardian Governor, with it being recognised that there were a number of significant challenges facing schools , referring to examples of child sexual exploitation (CSE), human trafficking, modern slavery and violence against women.  The development of a safeguarding website was currently in production and once the data was populated this would be a significantly useful resource for the future. 

 

The evidence from the performance indicators for the year 2016/17 showed that the Council had built on the previous year’s results and as referred to at paragraph 11 of the report, at a local level the department complied fully with the all Wales Child Protection Procedures in addressing cases of suspected CSE.  In the Vale of Glamorgan there was currently an established multi-agency task force group and dedicated CSE / missing South Wales Police Team including a Barnardos advocate working alongside Police officers, health safeguarding officers, Vale of Glamorgan Education Department, Youth Service, Youth Offending, Children’s Social Workers and relevant Licensing and protection staff were also included in task group meetings.

 

With specific reference to the report, a Member queried the number of allegations against professionals and how it compared to the previous year.  The Safeguarding Officer advised that the numbers were low, with the majority being made against temporary / agency staff rather than employees of the Vale.  Also the nature of the work showed some of the allegations were of a low level nature. In referring to the type of root cause analysis undertaken, the Safeguarding Officer advised that he could not go into specific detail due to the small numbers involved as they would be easily identifiable which would have data protection implications however he could say that in the allegations that were being referred, there was no deliberate attempt to cause harm to a child and training could be offered to staff in relation to how to address a child and how to behave with children.

 

Following a further question regarding assurances that Learning Support staff were not being encouraged to cut corners with care, the Safeguarding Officer advised that medical care in schools and toileting policies were currently being developed.  The Learning Support staff were key staff in the service as they tended to know the child best and the child was also often  more willing to speak to them rather than anyone else. Members were pleased to note that training for LSAs was given the same status as training for professional staff.  The department was also conscious of balancing the needs of the child with the needs of any adult involved.  A Health Care Needs Policy was also being developed which would be presented to Scrutiny in due course and a number of the Trade Unions had picked up on the consequences of the new Health Care Needs Policy and how it would impact in schools. 

 

In referring to Section 3 of the document in relation to compliance the document referred to all schools currently having access to the Council’s StaffNet or a Vale of Glamorgan e-mail address, Committee was informed that a Member was aware that Stanwell School did not have access to StaffNet and sought reassurance on how information was cascaded.  The Safeguarding Officer stated that Stanwell had access to a Vale of Glamorgan e-mail address and could confirm that no school missed out on information although difficulties with access had to be addressed.  It was important to note that data protection and the storing and sharing of information was a challenge, with the department constantly working with schools to ensure all received the same message.  In previous years when schools were allowed to develop their own systems it was an issue, but that in the current climate they could now have access to the Vale of Glamorgan server.

 

In referring to issues of potential child exploitation the officer reassured Members that it was doing as much as it possibly could for such vulnerable children and  that training had been identified as a priority. The Council was doing as much as it possibly could within the resources it had with evidence showing that such issues were being identified and children were being referred as appropriate. 


The Chairman, in referring to the healthy relationship programme that had been provided by Atal y Fro, which had recently been curtailed due to a lack of resources queried the impact that this had had on schools.  The Safeguarding Officer stated that he was currently working with the CYPS service to see how the programme could be brought back as schools were requesting that it be reinstated.  It was subsequently suggested that a further report be brought back to the Committee  following such discussions in order to provide an update on any progress.

 

In referring specifically to corporate training, the Chairman urged all present, especially if they were Governors of schools, to undertake the Safeguarding course run by the Safeguarding Officer.  The Chairman also requested that gaps in training of Elected Members be further explored by the Committee in the future.

 

Having fully considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Safeguarding Officer be thanked for a comprehensive presentation of the report and responses to queries raised and that the Corporate Safeguarding Mid Term Report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Committee considers further training opportunities for Elected Members in due course.

 

(3)       T H A T the Committee continues to receive six monthly updates on work carried out to improve corporate safeguarding arrangements and the effectiveness of relevant policies.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In recognition of the presentation of the report and the responses provided at the meeting.

 

(2)       In order for the Committee to consider appropriate training.

 

(3)       In order that the Committee can be apprised of updates for consideration and comment.

 

 

626     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 30TH NOVEMBER, 2017 (DLS) -

 

The Principal Accountant presenting the report advised of the forecast of a projected overspend of £250,000 after an anticipated use of Learning and Skills reserves of £603,000.  The Directorate had however, already taken a number of steps to mitigate the complex needs overspend including freezing non-essential expenditure and holding budgeted posts vacant.  Whilst every effort would continue to be made to decrease net overspend it was looking increasingly unlikely that the Directorate would outturn on budget by the end of the financial year.  As it was already planned that a substantial amount of Learning and Skills reserves would be utilised in the year, it had been proposed that the remaining shortfall of £258,000 would be funded from the Council Fund.

 

The report highlighted that the service area Strategy, Culture, Community Learning & Resources was projected to outturn on budget after drawing down £319,000 from reserves. There was an adverse variance of £97,000 relating to the schools long term supply scheme, however, premiums would be increased from April 2018 to ensure the scheme was sustainable in the future. There was an adverse variance of £93,000 anticipated on education transport which was managed within the Environment and Housing Directorate. There was also adverse variances of £24,000 in relation to primary school rates revaluations.  This was offset by favourable variances of £106,000 relating to staff vacancies, £34,000 on ICT SLA income from schools, pension payments of £42,000, £17,000 relating to Broadband and union backfilling of £15,000.  The Catering service would draw down £109k from the Catering reserve to outturn at budget to fund urgent gas works required in schools as well as the school holiday enrichment programme.  The Schools Invest to Save Reserve would be used to cover the £36,000 adverse variance in relation to redundancies in schools, which was covered by a statutory requirement to be funded centrally. £106,000 from the Rationalisation reserve would be used to fund revenue costs in relation to the Barry Secondary school transformation, £22,000 from the Rationalisation Reserve would be used to fund one off staffing costs at Penarth Learning Community. A further £20,000 of the Rationalisation Reserve would be used to fund the cost of Welsh immersion for primary pupils transferring from English medium to Welsh medium schools and £17,000 would be transferred from the rationalisation reserve to cover amalgamation costs at St. Helen's Primary school.  £9,000 of the Adult Community Learning reserve would be used to cover the adverse variance which was as a result of maintaining the service following a reduction in funding from Cardiff and Vale Colleges.

 

For the Strategy and Regulation service which was to be known as the Directors Office it was anticipated that this service would underspend by £3,000 due to a freeze on expenditure and non-replacement of one post which had been held vacant in order to partially mitigate the overspend on complex needs. For Achievement for All  the service was currently predicted to outturn with an adverse variance of £650,000 which would be partially met by transfers from reserves of £284,000 resulting in an adverse variance at year end of £366,000.  A £403,000 adverse variance was projected on the recoupment income budget which had  been under pressure for a number of years as a result of a demographic increase in the number of Vale pupils presenting with complex needs which had resulted in less placements being available for other Authorities to purchase. 

 

School Improvement –was anticipated to underspend by £78,000 due to a freeze on expenditure and non-replacement of a senior post which had been held vacant in order to partially mitigate the overspend on complex needs.  Provision had also been made within the budget to make unsupported borrowing debt repayments in relation to the Schools Investment Strategy of £598,000 per annum and any favourable variance on debt repayments would be directed into the Schools Investment Strategy.

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed a list of savings to be achieved for 2017/18 and

Appendix 3 detailed financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 30th November, 2017 with reference being made to a number of specific schemes as detailed within the report.

 

In recognition of the use of Council Reserves to fund the overspends in noting that the works to Fairfield Primary school had recently been completed and that the nursery opened in January 2018 it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position with regard to the 2017/18 Revenue and Capital Monitoring be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In recognition of the information presented and the responses at the meeting.

 

 

627     QUARTER 2 (2017-18) PERFORMANCE REPORT: AN ASPIRATIONAL AND CULTURALLY VIBRANT VALE (DLS) -

 

The Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources commenced by advising that an overall green RAG status had been attributed to Wellbeing Outcome 3: An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale to reflect the good progress made towards achieving improved outcomes for residents and customers during the quarter.

 

A detailed report which outlined the progress for the quarter towards achieving the Wellbeing Outcome 3 was provided at Appendix A to the report.

 

In referring to the only Amber contained within the document for AC13 - Work with community partners to deliver a vibrant and diverse library service, the Chairman acknowledged that a considerable amount of discussion had taken place at the previous Committee meeting when the Welsh Public Library Standards performance 2016/17 had been reported.

 

In referring to the Arts and Culture Strategy the Chairman advised that this was listed in the Council’s Corporate Plan, it was also part of the Committee’s work programme and would be presented to Scrutiny and Cabinet in due course. 

 

In referring to the “our achievements” section  within the document, the Chairman took the opportunity to register her disappointment that the document could detail the provisional data for the academic year but that the Scrutiny Committee which had been calling for a report on this information had not had the opportunity to scrutinise the information prior to the performance report being presented.  It was the Chairman’s view with the agreement of the Committee that in future the Scrutiny Committee needed to see the provisional data to scrutinise it more effectively as early on in the process as possible.

 

In referring to AC16 - protect and enhance the built natural heritage of the Vale of Glamorgan for development management decisions the Chairman considered that a briefing from the Conservation Planner would be important for the Committee to receive in the near future as the Service Plan action was part of the Committee’s responsibility.

 

Having considered the report, and following the above comments it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the Quarter 2 Performance Monitoring report be noted and that arrangements be made for the Conservation Planner to provide a presentation to the Committee in due course.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having considered the information contained therein and in order to receive an overview from the Conservation Planner to scrutinise AC16.

 

 

628     3RD QUARTER SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND UPDATED WORK PROGRAMME SCHEDULE 2017/18 (MD) -

 

The report provided the Committee with an update on progress in relation to the Scrutiny Committee recommendations for the 3rd Quarter October to December 2017,  the 2nd Quarter July to September 2017 and for the municipal year 2016/17 at Appendices A, B and C and an updated Work Programme schedule for 2017/18 at Appendix D. 

 

In noting that the Work Programme had been aligned to the Cabinet Forward Work Programme and that there were a number of reports that had slipped, the Chairman advised that it was appropriate for an extraordinary meeting to be placed in the Council’s calendar with the date of 23rd April, 2018 being confirmed at the meeting.  The Chairman also advised that the scheduled meeting for 19th March was to be  moved to 26th March, 2018 which would be confirmed by email by the Democratic Services Officer  to all Members.

 

Having considered the report it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the actions noted below be confirmed as completed:

 

decision tracking

16 October 2017

Min. No. 384 – “Striking   The Right Balance: Proposals for A Welsh Language Bill” White Paper   Consultation Document – Proposed Council Response (DLS) – Recommended

That   the response attached at Appendix B be endorsed and together with the report   be referred to Cabinet for approval with a request that Welsh Government be   asked, in addition, to address the issues of teaching capacity and promotion   as outlined above to support the development of the Welsh language. 

Cabinet, on 23rd   October, 2017, resolved that the response attached at Appendix B to the   report be approved and sent to Welsh Government with the additional request   to address the issues of teaching capacity and promotion as outlined in the   report to support the development of the Welsh language.

(Min. No. C109 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 386 – Summary of School Inspection Reports   for Summer Term 2017 (DLS) –   Recommended

(4)   That a letter of congratulations be   forwarded by the Chairman on behalf of the Scrutiny Committee to Llansannor   CiW Primary School and Gwenfo CiW Primary School offering the Committee’s   congratulations on their inspections.

Letters send to Schools.

Completed

 

 

                       

Min. No. 388 – Schools’ Balances As At 31st   March 2017 (DLS) – Recommended

That Cabinet be informed   that the Scrutiny Committee notes the level of school reserves, but that the   ability to clawback should be coupled with the desire to work collaboratively   with schools to use the limited resources they had to best effect.

Cabinet, on 20th   November, 2017, noted the contents of the report.

(Min No C136 refers)

Completed

11 December 2017

Min. No. 536 – Welsh   Public Library Standards Performance 2016-2017 (DLS) – Recommended

(3)   That the Committee receives a presentation   with regard to promotion of the Library Service via Social Media.

Added to work programme   schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 539 – 2nd Quarter Scrutiny   Decision Tracking of Recommendations and Updated Work Programme Schedule   2017/18 (MD) – Recommended

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

Added to work programme   schedule.

Completed

20 March 2017

Min. No. 950 – Individual   Schools Progress Panel Meeting (MD) – Recommended

(2)   That the results of the recent   examinations undertaken at the school together with a copy of the latest   Challenge Advisor’s report be presented to the Panel when available.

Added to work programme   schedule.

Completed

 

(2)       T H A T the updated Work Programme attached at Appendix D to the report be approved to include the amendment of the date of the meeting in March from 19th to 26th March, 2018 and the extraordinary meeting scheduled for 23rd April, 2018.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       Having considered the progress and status of the recommendations.

 

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