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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 7th November, 2011.

 

Present:  Councillor Mrs. K.A. Kemp (Chairman); Councillors Mrs. M.E.J. Birch, C.P.J. Elmore, J.F. Fraser, C.L. Osborne, Mrs. S.I. Sharpe, J.W. Thomas, S.T. Wiliam and Miss. S.J.C. Williams.

 

Co-opted Members: Mr. P. Burke (Roman Catholic Church); Mr. P Lewis (Parent Governor - Secondary Sector) and Mr. S. Williams (Parent Governor - Primary Sector).

 

Non-voting Observers: Mr. T. Cox (Secondary Sector) and Mr. D. Treharne (Welsh Medium Education).

 

Also present: Councillor A.D. Hampton (Cabinet Member); Councillors N.P. Hodges, and N. Moore.

 

 

578     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillor E. Hacker and F.T. Johnson.

 

 

579     APPOINTMENT OF VICE-CHAIRMAN -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T Councillor Mrs. S.I. Sharpe be appointed for the remainder of the current municipal year.

 

 

580     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 10th October, 2011 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

581     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

           

 

582     SCHOOL BASED COUNSELLING (DLD) -

 

The Scrutiny Committee had previously considered the above matter at its meeting held on 8th November 2010 (Minute No. 619 refers) with the Scrutiny Committee having ongoing responsibility for monitoring progress in relation to the development of a local school based counselling service.  In 2010 the Welsh Government Education Minister confirmed additional funding increase and confirmation of a continuation of funding until 2013.  In 2011/12 £186,000 had been allocated and an indicative allocation for 2012/13 had been awarded in the sum of £205,000 for the Vale of Glamorgan Counselling Project.  The Welsh Government had also indicated that after 2013 the funding to administer School Based Counselling would be made via the Revenue Support Grant.  The Director confirmed, in response to a question, that it would be up to the Council to determine at the budget setting process how this funding would be utilised.

 

Since the last report to the Scrutiny Committee the service had been monitored and evaluated by the Management Board and at a national level.  Feedback from school staff and pupils in February 2011 remained very positive details of which were set out in Appendix 1 to the report.  Welsh Government feedback on the Vale of Glamorgan’s progress was very good and a recent review by the Welsh Government used a number of indicators to evaluate the cost and quality of the service during the spring term i.e. “value for money exercise”, equating numbers and young people attending sessions to cost delivery.  It was noted that all these indicators had performed very well. 

 

299 young people had accessed the service in the last year with a total of 1,593 sessions being attended.  The main reasons for referral had been highlighted as family issues, anger and bullying.  Key issues highlighted during counselling had included family issues, pupil self worth and anger. 

 

The Scrutiny Committee noted that a full service review was undertaken annually by Barnardos, the number of responses continued to increase although numbers remained low in some areas i.e. parent questionnaires.  Feedback was positive, a 100% of pupils agreed that the referral process worked well.  100% of pupils said using the service had helped in improving relationships with friends and family, improving behaviour and concentration and being more able to cope with issues at school.  Of the 32% of pupils who highlighted that their attendance was an issue prior to counselling, all suggested that counselling had made it easier to attend school.  Areas highlighted for improvement included: the length of waiting lists and the inadequacy of the counselling room.  These areas were being explored with schools and the service provider.

 

The Young People’s Core Review was used as a tool to assess psychological wellbeing, outcome data continued to show significant positive progress for the young people undertaking counselling, details of which were set out in Appendix 2 to the report.

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the excellent progress made to date be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee continues to receive further monitoring progress reports on the matter.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of progress made to date.

 

(2)       To consider progress that had been achieved in the future.

 

 

583     REQUIREMENTS OF THE NEW “WELSH IN EDUCATION STRATEGIC PLANS” (WESP) (DLD) -

 

The Scrutiny Committee received a presentation which provided a comprehensive briefing on the requirements of the above strategic plans. 

 

From 2011/12 all local authorities’ “Welsh Education Schemes” currently approved and monitored by the Welsh Language Board, would become the responsibility of the Welsh Government.  The Council’s current Welsh Education Scheme (2009-2013) would be replaced in 2012 by WESP. 

 

The WESP would detail how the Authority would aim to achieve the Welsh Government’s outcomes and targets outlined in the Welsh Medium Education Strategy (WMES 2010).  The WESP would continue to form a part of the Council’s broad strategy for Welsh language and would contain an action plan and targets for the development of Welsh education in the Vale of Glamorgan.  The Council’s existing Welsh Medium in Education Strategy targeted the outcomes which would be largely delivered by action detailed in the WESP and funded by the Welsh in Education grant. 

 

A brief question and answer session took place on the following issues:

 

·       previous parental consultation which had identified latent need for Welsh language education in Barry and Llantwit Major

·       further latent demand based on current Welsh language education nursery provision

·       workforce planning.

 

The draft WESP 2012/15 was tabled.  Members were advised that they could submit comments on its content to the Welsh Language Advisor over the next two weeks as the document was required to be submitted to the Welsh Government by 15th December, 2011.

 

A further report would be submitted to the Scrutiny Committee once the Welsh Government response had been received on the draft plan.

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the requirements of the new Welsh in Education Strategic Plans as detailed in the report and accompanying presentation be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee receive a further progress report once the Welsh Government response had been received.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of the imminent proposal to place the WESP on a statutory basis and to be included in the first Welsh Education Bill.

 

(2)       In order to monitor progress in delivering the objectives of the proposed WESP for the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

 

584     CATERING SERVICE REVIEW UPDATE (DLD) -

 

The above matter had previously been reported to the Scrutiny Committee in November 2010 whereupon at that time the Scrutiny Committee required further update reports on progress in regard to the associated review.  The review of Catering Services which had been carried out by APSE’s Best Value Consultancy covered catering services provided in schools, welfare, hospitality, The Alps catering facility, hospitality and vending machines in Council offices.  It was noted that the review did not cover commercial operations at Cosmeston Country Park and Dyffryn House and Gardens as these had been contracted out in April 2010.  It was noted that during the financial year 2010/11 the Council’s Catering Services generated a profit of £87,000 made up of £73,000 profit on Primary School Meals and £14,000 on hospitality and function catering.  This had been reinvested to fund essential premises related work required to ensure Environmental Health Inspection standards were met in a number of school kitchens.  Investment in cashless catering systems had also been possible.  During 2009/10 the service had incurred a loss of £22,000 in income as a result of adverse weather.  This was offset against a corresponding underspend on the client account resulting in a balanced account.  Adverse weather during 2008/09 had also resulted in a loss on the contract of £42,000 which had also been offset against £19,000 underspend on the client account returning a net deficit of £23,000.  Over the last four years the service had turned a loss of £115,000 into an operating profit of £87,000.

 

The findings of the APSE’s review had resulted in the following recommendations:

 

·       that Catering should withdraw operational services to Welfare

·       for the Wenvoe (The Alps) operation that this be externalised

·       to retain in-house or externalise the hospitality business which included the function account, vending and the Council’s Chairman’s functions.

 

The Scrutiny Committee also noted that the Catering Service was on track to achieve efficiency savings of £110,000 over the financial years 2011/12 and 2012/13.  This would be achieved through a further reduction in staffing hours; a management restructure which was currently being implemented and the generation of increased income. 

 

In response to a number of questions from Members in relation to the take up of the free school meals (including breakfasts); the cost of providing a school meal per pupil, the cost charged per school meal and how many schools currently provided free school breakfasts, the Head of Strategic Planning and Performance indicated that she did not have this information to hand but agreed to circulate this information to Members following the meeting.

 

Having regard to the above and related issues, it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the progress made to date as well as the other developments as detailed in the report in regard to the Catering Service be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Head of Strategic Planning and Performance circulate to Members of the Committee information in relation to school meals provision and take up.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of progress made to date in respect of the Catering Service’s review.

 

(2)       To apprise Members.

 

           

585     PENARTH LEARNING COMMUNITY (DLD) -

 

Proposals in respect of the above scheme had previously been considered by the Scrutiny Committee at its meeting held on 11th October 2010 (Minute No. 545 refers). 

 

The Council’s bid for Tranche 3 (T3) funding for the initiative had been submitted to the Welsh Government on 28th May 2010 for approval in principle subject to a further financial business case which was submitted in March 2011.  Subsequently, a conditional grant offer had been made to the Council by the Welsh Government in the sum of up to £34,563,200 in July 2011 subject to justification of the size of the Special School and residential accommodation element based on the outcome of discussions with other Local Authorities.  These discussions had recently been concluded enabling the Council to confirm the size of such provision, thereby meeting the condition of the stated grant offer.  The Council’s funding contribution towards the scheme was a requirement of 30% and this had been included in the indicative 5 year Capital Programme as approved previously by Full Council.  The total cost of the scheme had been revised to reflect a slight reduction in the size of the Special School and residential provision.  The total cost of the scheme was now circa £49,182,000.  Consequently, a new funding profile had been developed to reflect the reduced costs of the scheme as well as funding contributions from other Local Authorities.  This would be factored into a revised School Investment Programme which would also incorporate revised investment priorities in light of reduced capital funding.

 

The current position in respect of costs of funding the scheme were set out in Appendix 1 which detailed changes to the cost and funding of the scheme since the approval of the indicative Capital Programme in March 2011. 

 

The Scrutiny Committee further noted that the Welsh Government had advised that the Council could now make arrangements to initiate the statutory process in relation to Penarth Learning Community and the process and the timescales involved with this process were set out in Appendix 2 to the report.  The statutory consultation document as detailed in Appendix 3 of the report and set out information in relation to that statutory process.  The Head of Strategic Planning and Performance reminded the Scrutiny Committee that irrespective of securing the necessary grant funding for the scheme, building work could not commence until statutory approval for reorganisation of the schools concerned was received from the Welsh Government.

 

Following publication of the necessary Statutory Notices (early 2012), if no objections were received the length of the statutory process would be much reduced.  However, if just one objection was received, the matter would need to be referred to the Welsh Government for determination which could be a lengthy process. 

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position in regard to development in respect of Penarth Learning Community and the timescale for the associated statutory process be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In acknowledgement of action taken to date in regard to the funding for Penarth Learning Community and the action necessary to implement the necessary statutory processes.

 

 

586     SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS (DLPPHS) -

 

The report detailed progress in respect of uncompleted recommendations made by the Scrutiny Committee in relation to the first and second quarters of 2011/12, details of which were set out at Appendix C and D to the report; the financial year 2009/10 (Appendix A) and the financial year 2010/11 (Appendix B). 

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the following actions detailed below be accepted as completed:

 

08 November 2010

Min. No. 619 - School Based Counselling (DLD) - Recommended

(3)   That a further progress report on the service be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in 12 months.

 

On agenda for 7th November meeting.

Completed.

17 January 2011

Min. No. 804  Decline of Honeybee and Bumblebee Species and Future Conservation Opportunities (REF) - Recommended

(3)   That the Director of Learning and Development submit a further report on the work of Eco schools prior to the summer recess.

 

 

Report presented to Committee on 25th July 2011 (Min. No. 276).

Completed.

25 July 2011

Min. No. 267 - Summary of School Inspection Reports for the Autumn Term 2010 and Spring Term 2011 (REF) - Recommended

That the summary of school inspection reports for the Autumn Term 2010 and Spring 2011 be noted and that the Director of Learning and Development apprise the Scrutiny Committee of developments in respect of action plans regarding Jenner Park and Gladstone Primary Schools as soon as practicable.

 

 

Presented to Committee meeting on 10th October 2011.

Completed.

Min. No. 273 - Childcare Sufficiency Assessment 2010/11 Report (DLD) - Recommended

(3)   That the draft Action Plan as set out in Appendix A to the report be endorsed and submitted to Cabinet for consideration.

 

 

Cabinet endorsed the recommendations at its meeting of 5th October 2011.

Completed.

Min. No. 279 - Scrutiny Committees’ - Draft Annual Report May 2010 - April 2011 (DLPPHS) - Recommended

That the draft Annual Report for the period May 2010 - April 2011 be approved and be submitted to the meeting of Council on 28th September, 2011.

 

Annual Report submitted to Council on 28th September 2011.

Completed.

12 September 2011

Min. No. 347 - Improvement Plan 2011/12 (CX) - Recommended

(1)   That the Improvement Plan for 2011/12 as currently drafted be endorsed and that Cabinet be advised that the Scrutiny Committee would be further considering those matters set out in the below recommendations. 

 

Recommendation noted by Cabinet at its meeting on 5th October 2011.

Completed.

Min. No. 349 - Presentation - School Support (DLD) - Recommended

(2)   That a further report be submitted to the next meeting in relation to Oakfield and Jenner Park Primary Schools.

 

Report presented to the Committee on 10th October 2011.

Completed.

 

 

(2)       T H A T progress against the remaining recommendations identified as ongoing as detailed in the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To apprise Members of progress with Scrutiny Committee recommendations.

 

 

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