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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 25th June, 2012.

 

Present:  Councillor N.P. Hodges (Chairman); Councillors Mrs. M.E.J. Birch, Ms. R. Birch, Ms. K. Edmunds, H.C. Hamilton, T.H. Jarvie, F.T. Johnson, Mrs. M. Kelly Owen, R.A. Penrose and E. Williams.

 

Co-opted Members: Mr. P. Burke (Roman Catholic Church), Mr. P. Lewis (Parent Governor - Secondary Sector).

 

Non-voting Observers: Mr. G. Beaudette (Primary Sector) and Mr. D. Traherne (Welsh Medium Education).

 

Also present: Councillors C.P.J. Elmore, N. Moore, S. Wiliam and M.R. Wilson.

 

65        INTRODUCTION -

 

The Chairman welcomed all present to the first meeting of the Scrutiny Committee under his Chairmanship and in turn each representative was requested to introduce themselves and their role.

 

 

66        APPOINTMENT OF VICE-CHAIRMAN -

 

Councillor Ms. R. Birch was appointed Vice-Chairman for the ensuing municipal year.

 

 

67        MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 23rd April, 2012 be approved as a correct record subject to it being noted that Minute No. 113 - Announcement - thanks were extended to all Members of the Committee, Education Officers and Democratic and Scrutiny Officers.

 

 

68        SERVICE OVERVIEW - KEY ISSUES -

 

Head of Achievement - Lynette Jones -

 

The Head of Service referred to the proposals for a Joint Education Service (JES) to commence with School Improvement in September 2012.  In presentation Ms. Jones referred to the context for change, updated Members on recent developments, identified the benefits and risks and to devise a way forward.  The Welsh Government Minister for Education has set out his plans for improvement in a 20 point plan of action.  The Viv Thomas Review also identified 33 recommendations to secure improvement.  There has been an increased imperative to collaborate via consortia arrangements and these are in place.  There were currently 4 designated Consortia in Wales and of paramount need was the requirement to raise standards and to secure the best possible learning experiences, irrespective of the financial climate. 

 

Directors and Chief Executives in 5 local authorities have agreed to commit to shared services with a progress report to be presented to respective local authority Cabinet's for endorsement.  The Welsh Assembly Government provided a capacity grant to support the plan and the Central South Consortium comprises Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Cardiff, Vale of Glamorgan and Bridgend.  The presentation involved details of the Joint Education Service organisational structure and the details of the current position in that an Interim Director was in post, an Interim Head of Service for the traded arm was in post, a Head of Service for School Improvement is due to be appointed soon, and it was reported that Vale staff had been mostly matched to new posts.  The key priorities for consideration were noted as:

  • Driver for change must be to secure improved outcomes and wellbeing for learners in the Vale of Glamorgan
  • Funding model must be based on the OBC and deliverable within agreed funding models
  • Any hidden costs for change
  • Accountability and sovereignty lay with the Council
  • Council must be content that the plans are deliverable
  • Securing high standards, progress and quality leadership of paramount importance.

 

The key issues for schools were noted as:

  • Increased grant funding
  • No local Vale School Improvement Service
  • Pay for targeted support
  • A new culture of change for the new Consortium working
  • Capacity concerns
  • New Estyn Inspection Framework.

In considering the presentation, one of the concerns raised was in relation to the purchase of services from various organisations and Members were reassured that the Welsh Government would be producing a website of kite marked resources for schools support.  The intention was for a full database facility to be available for the whole of Wales to tap into.

 

The Chairman referred to his recent visit to the Central South Consortium offices in Treforest and the data collection available which would drive the standards forward.  It was of note that the Vale of Glamorgan seemed to be ahead of other local authorities in a variety of aspects.

 

Head of Strategic Planning and Performance - Paula Ham-

 

The service area covered the services of the Youth Service, Libraries, Catering, Education Finance, School ICT and Data Services, School Organisation and Access Services, Performance Monitoring and Review.  The Enterprise Centre and Employment Training Services had recently been transferred to the Director of Development Services following the Senior Management reduction review that had recently been undertaken by the Council.  The Head of Service referred to the key issues for each service area and in particular referred to the collaboration work that was being undertaken across borders within a number of the service areas, in particular the Youth Service which was working closely with Bridgend County Borough Council.

 

In considering the Catering Service, the Head of Service referred to the Appetite for Life statutory requirement for 2012 which would have an impact on the take up of school meals and a consequential reduction in income.  The ongoing costs of Job Evaluation had also impacted on the service and officers would be looking at reducing labour hours required in the near future.

 

With regards to Schools ICT and Data Services the main aim was to maintain and improve services within limited resources.  The service area was also considering the feasibility of centralising ICT services for education and Members would be informed accordingly. 

 

In referring to the Medium Term Financial Plan the Department would need to revise the current MTFP and Education Budget Strategy in consultation with the Schools Budget Forum.  The Head of Service advised that the full Plan was available on the Council’s website.

 

Discussion then ensued in relation to school surplus places.  It was noted that an on-line admissions process is to be implemented from September 2012. 

 

During the presentation, Members were also informed of various other reports that would be presented to the Committee in the forthcoming year i.e. Inspection Reports, budgetary concerns, Catering Service etc., following which it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T Ms. Lynette Jones and Ms. Paula Ham be thanked for their presentations, in particular for highlighting the key issues for the service areas and that the further reports as outlined above be presented to the Committee in due course.

 

 

69        REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL, 2012 TO 30TH APRIL, 2012 (CX) -

 

The report provided Committee with the position in respect of the revenue and capital expenditure for the period 1st April 2012 to 30th April 2012.

 

Members noted that provision had been made within the budget for the annual cost of financing the School Investment Strategy of £600,000 which would be transferred to the School Investment Strategy reserve.  The report also highlighted the grant related expenditure for the service areas with it being noted that particular details of any other grants which had not yet been confirmed would be reported in subsequent monitoring reports.

 

The Monitoring report also contained details of the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 30th April, 2012 and that for all schemes where it was evident the full year's budget would not be spent during the year and the relevant officers would be required to provide an explanation for the shortfall.

 

Having considered the report and it being noted that it was early in the financial year it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T position with the regard to the 2012/13 Revenue and Capital Monitoring for the period 1st April 2012 to 30th April 2012 be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To apprise Members.

 

 

70        THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN SCHOOL INVESTMENT PROGRAMME (2012/13 TO 2019/20) (CX) -

 

Members were requested to consider the Vale of Glamorgan School Investment Programme attached at Appendix A to the report.  The 21st Century Schools Programme had formally been launched by the Welsh Government in March 2010 to support large scale capital building projects across Wales with the aim of enhancing school buildings to meet 21st Century educational needs.

 

In line with Welsh Government requirements the Vale's 21st Century Schools Strategic Outline Programme had been submitted to the Welsh Government in December 2010 and at the time the Welsh Government was providing a 70% grant support intervention rate towards local authority school investment projects.  It was, however, noted that this grant had now been reduced to 50% following which local authorities had been invited to review and prepare revised forward outlook programme for school capital investments.  This had been presented to Cabinet on 16th November, 2011.  The submission of the revised programme had been successful and a conditional offer had been received from the Welsh Government for £10.48 million which would transform and enhance various schools at Llantwit Major and Barry.

 

In considering the report reference was made to proposals for Llantwit Major School, with the explanation that the project had not currently been developed.  However, Members were advised that any details or issues could be discussed with officers and local Ward Members and the Head of Service agreed to make the necessary arrangements.

 

Having considered the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the Vale of Glamorgan School Investment Programme for 2012/13 to 2019/20 attached at Appendix A be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To apprise Members.

 

 

71        PROGRESS REPORT FOR GLADSTONE PRIMARY, JENNER PARK PRIMARY, COLCOT PRIMARY AND OAKFIELD PRIMARY SCHOOLS (CX) -

 

The report advised that the local authority had supported the above four schools and as such had monitored progress against the recommendations on a half termly basis throughout the year.  All the progress reports had included extensive details about support and the nature of progress made.  It was noted that progress was being made in all schools with good progress having been made at both Gladstone and Colcot Primaries and both schools had been removed from the LA Follow Up category.  However, the local authority would continue to support both schools whilst closely monitoring progress. 

 

Progress was also being made at Oakfield Primary School and Estyn had confirmed that reasonable progress was being but had reported that the school remained in the category. In considering the report Members queried the pupil numbers in the school and the Head of Service agreed to provide the detail for Members information via e-mail. 

 

With regard to Jenner Park Primary School Estyn had confirmed that the school should be removed from the category.

 

It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the progress reports be noted and that further progress update reports be submitted as and when available.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To apprise Members and monitor progress.

 

 

72        SUMMARY OF SCHOOL INSPECTION REPORTS FOR THE SPRING TERM 2012 (CX) -

 

The following schools had been inspected during the Spring Term 2012: High Street Primary School, St. David's Primary School, Cogan Primary School and Llangan Primary School.  A summary of the inspection findings were appended to the report.

 

The overall judgements achieved by the Vale of Glamorgan Schools were as follows:

 

School

Overall Judgement

 

Current Performance

Prospects for Improvement

High St Primary School

Good

Good

St David's Church in Wales Primary School (placed in Estyn Follow-up category)

Adequate

Adequate

Cogan Primary School

Good

Good

Llangan Primary School

Good

Good

 

It was noted that the judgements for the 3 key questions and the ten quality indicators were based on a 4 point scale:

  • Excellent - many strengths including significant examples of sector leading practice
  • Good - many strengths and no important areas requiring significant improvement
  • Adequate - strengths outweigh areas for improvement
  • Unsatisfactory - important areas for improvement outweigh strengths.

 

The report also highlighted that St. David's Church in Wales Primary School had been placed in an Estyn Follow-Up category, however, a substantive headteacher was currently in place, a post inspection Action Plan had been produced and supportive to address the recommendations had commenced.

 

Having considered the reports and the accepted reasons regarding the follow up activities it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In light of the reasons provided and the follow up activities undertaken.

 

 

73        ADMISSIONS FORUM REPRESENTATION (CX) –

 

All Councils were required to establish an Admission Forum in accordance with section 85A of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 (inserted by section 46 of the Education Act 2002). A nomination was sought for a Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee Member to sit on the Council's Admissions Forum. 

 

RECOMMENDED - T H AT Councillor F.T. Johnson be appointed to sit on the Council's Admissions Forum.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In order that a Member of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) can be appointed to the Forum.

 

 

74        SCHOOL BUDGET FORUM REPRESENTATION (CX) -

 

A nomination was sought for a Member to sit on the Schools Budget Forum.  All Councils were required to have a Schools Budget Forum in accordance with section 47A of the School Standards and Framework Act 1998 as amended by the Education Act 2002 and the Schools Budget Forums (Wales) Regulations. 

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T Councillor F.T. Johnson be the representative from the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) to sit on the Schools Budget Forum.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In order that a Member of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) is appointed to the Schools Budget Forum.

 

 

75        SCRUTINY FORWARD WORK PROGRAMME 2012/13 (DLPPHS) -

 

The report outlined the monitoring and evaluation role that the Scrutiny Committee would be undertaking throughout the year and detailed at paragraph 5 the reports to be presented and timetabled into the work programme.  It was noted that this was not an exhaustive list and that further reports would be submitted as and when available.  In addition, the Scrutiny Committee were also requested to propose a topic for a potential review which would be suitable for a Task and Finish exercise to be undertaken by a small group of Members and officers from the relevant Scrutiny Committee.  Each Scrutiny Committee was being asked to make a proposal which would be put forward to the Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group who would consider the topics and prioritise two from the suggestions of the five Scrutiny Committees.

 

In view of the fact that the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) July meeting would not take place until 23rd July, 2012, it was recommended that the Members of the Scrutiny Committee e-mail the Scrutiny and Committee Services Officer with any suggestions in order for the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee to priories a topic to be put forward to the Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group.  Members were also advised that for any Task and Finish exercise review that they wished to put forward that they also consider representation on the Group to consist of six Members to be politically balanced (3:1:1:1).

 

Having fully considered the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the work programme for 2012/13 as detailed in Paragraphs 4 - 6 of the report be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T the Scrutiny and Committee Services Officer be e-mailed with suggestions for a topic for review and that the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee be delegated responsibility to prioritise a topic to be put forward to the Scrutiny Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group.

 

(3)       T H A T should the topic for review from the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) be accepted by the Scrutiny Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group the names of the six Members of the politically balanced group be forwarded to the Scrutiny and Committee Services Officer.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To confirm the Committee's work programme for 2012/13.

 

(2)       In order that a topic for review can be put forward to the Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group.

 

(3)       In order that Members of the Scrutiny Committee Task and Finish Group can be appointed should the priority topic be successful.