Top

Top

SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 23rd July, 2012.

 

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

 

Co-opted Member:  Mr. P. Burke (Roman Catholic Church).

 

Non-voting Observer:  Mr. G. Beaudette (Primary Sector).

 

 

188     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Mr. S. Williams (Co-opted Member - Parent Governor - Primary Sector), Mr. T. Cox (Non-voting Observer - Secondary) and Mr. D. Treharne (Non-voting Observer - Welsh Medium Education).

 

 

189     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 25th June, 2012 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

190     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

191     CLOSURE OF ACCOUNTS 2011/12 (CX) -

 

The report had been prepared to inform the Scrutiny Committee of the provisional financial position for the 2011/12 financial year.  The Operational Manager advised that the Council had, on 20th February, 2011 agreed the Authority's budget requirements for 2011/12 with certain accounting adjustments being made to service budgets. These adjustments were referred to as depreciation of assets, IAS 19 Retirement Benefits, Single Status, Energy and the Carbon Reduction Scheme.  Appendix 1 to the report detailed the revised estimates that had taken account of the adjustments.

 

At paragraph 6 of the report the following table compared the amended estimate and the actual expenditure for the Authority:

 

Service

Amended Revenue Estimate

Total Provisional Actual

Variance Favourable  () Adverse

 

£’000

£’000

             £’000

Directorate of Learning and Development

 

 

 

Education and Schools

89,081

89,033

48

Libraries

2,657

2,633

24

Lifelong Learning

1,503

1,500

3

Catering

933

929

4

 

 

 

 

Grand Total

94,174

94,095

79

 

 

 

 

 

 

The main reasons for the variances set out in paragraphs 8 - 16 of the report were reported as:

 

Education and Schools - Following a previously agreed transfer to the School Investment Strategy Reserve of £600,000 and £5,000 transferred to the Union Reserve, Education and Schools was showing an underspend of £48,000.

 

Additional Learning Needs Service – the service was underspent by £182,000 made up of additional recoupment income of £79,000 and an underspend of £9k on Out of County Recoupment expenditure. There had also been savings of £31k on Hospital / Home Tuition. It was noted that all of these areas of the service were demand led and unpredictable. The Pupil Referral Unit was underspent by £41k, £37k of which was due to delays in establishing suitable providers for pupil placements and £4k due to savings on the Service Level Agreement with the Amelia Methodist Trust. However, the underspends would be off-set by an overspend of £67,000 against the Pupil Support and Statemented budget which consisted of £56,000 Redundancy costs due to the implementation of staff savings and £18,000 in respect of adaptations and repairs. 

 

The Strategic Planning and Performance Budget was reported as underspent by £190,000 which consisted of an overspend of £195,000 against the Schools Maternity budget as a result of an increased number of schools based staff going on maternity leave.  The Schools Rate budget was overspent by £85,000 due to the addition of a number of new school premises at an increased cost and retention of one vacant site.  The Nursery budget was overspent by £17k due to an increase in eligible children and an increase in provider costs. The repairs and maintenance budget was overspent by £58k due to additional required maintenance in schools in 2011/12 and costs associated with the vacant Cowbridge Sixth Form site. Another area of overspend in the year was the Director's budget £13k as a result of the failure to implement the reduction in Personal Assistant hours proposed as part of 2011/12 savings target. These overspends were however, offset by underspends against Discretionary Awards £7k, Primary and Secondary non delegated £84k, vacancy savings due to posts held open across Strategic Planning £73k and a £14k contribution from the Planning and Transportation service for an underspend against the ringfenced budget for Mainstream Transport.

 

With regard to Libraries, there was a net favourable variance of £24,000 which was primarily the result of reduced staffing costs due to vacancies and the implementation of staff changes in preparation for future saving requirements.

 

Following the transfer to the Lifelong Learning Reserve of £18,000 to assist with the phasing of the Training Contract receipts there was a favourable variance of £3,000 and under Catering there was a net favourable variance of £4,000 following a transfer from the Catering Reserves £27,000 and the Trading Unit surplus of £113,000.  The service adverse variance of £136,000 was reported as primarily attributable to additional premises costs associated with school kitchen maintenance and repairs which had been required in order to meet the requirements of the Food Hygiene Rating Scheme and the Hazard Analysis of Critical Points Regulations. 

 

In referring to Capital the overall outturn reported for the Directorate was an underspend of £428,000 with major variances being outlined at paragraph 17 of the report and the statement of outturn by each scheme detailed at Appendix 2 to the report. Attached at Appendix 3 was a schedule showing the Directorates reserves as at 31st March, 2012.

 

In referring to paragraph 10 the Vice-Chairman queried the delays in establishing a suitable provider for pupil placements with the Head of Service advising that this was for a mixture of reasons e.g. whether there were sufficient placement providers or whether the need for such a placement had changed.  Members also requested further details in relation to the savings on the Service Level Agreement with the Amelia Methodist Trust.  The Head of Service agreed to provide the detail via e-mail as soon as possible.

 

When considering the report Members raised concerns in relation to the expertise that could be lost as a result of the Consortia arrangements.  However, the Head of Service assured Members that best practice in the field had already been gleaned and included in the operating model for the JES.  Therefore, best practice should become everyday practice at the point of implementation. 

 

A question was raised as to the impact of the loss of the mobile service provision with Members being informed that it was early days to assess the impact on the Library service but that there had been to date a definite impact on materials.  Alternative services had been put in place e.g. volunteers and outreach staff service with the aim being to assess the overall impact within 12 months and report back to Committee.

 

With regard to the overspend of £58,000 for additional required maintenance in schools and costs associated with the vacant Cowbridge Sixth Form site, the Head of Service advised that the costs referred to securing the site. The site had however been placed on the market but there was a legal issue as to whether the land was actually owned by a Trust which this aspect had not been budgeted for. 

 

Having considered the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the information as detailed above be circulated to Members when available.

 

(2)       T H A T the provisional financial position for the 2011/12 financial year be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To apprise Members.

 

 

192     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL, 2012 TO 31ST MAY, 2012 (CX) -

 

The report had been prepared as part of the regular monitoring process on expenditure within the Committee's remit with the revenue budget and projected outturn for 2012/13 detailed at Appendix 1 to the report.  It was noted that overall the Education Budget was projected to balance as at the end of March 2013 and that any savings identified would be available to be redirected into the School Investment Strategy or other reserves.

 

Provision had also been made in 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.  Appendix 2 to the report detailed the progress on the capital programme as at 31st May, 2012.

 

Profiled expenditure had been requested from all project managers although not all had at as yet been received.  The data that had been received was included at Appendix 2 to the report.

 

It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position with regard to the 2012/13 Revenue and Capital Monitoring for the period 1st April, 2012 to 31st May, 2012 be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

In consideration of the Scrutiny Committee's monitoring of expenditure.

 

 

193     QUARTERLY SERVICE PLAN AND END OF YEAR 2011/12 PERFORMANCE REPORT -

 

(i)         Inclusion Service -

 

The Head of Service (School Improvement) covering the service area advised that for performance indicator L581a (% of Inclusion service employees that leave the employment of the service during the year) the under performance was in relation to the fact that a number of staff had left the service and that the Head of Service had been seconded to Estyn.  For L583a (Level of Vale Equalities achieved by the Inclusion Service), Level 4 had been achieved but not in time for the data collection as at 31st March, 2012.

 

In referring to pupil attendance in primary schools, the recording of the new Attendance Codes had affected school attendance data and together with the inclement weather, school closures, parents taking children out of school in term time and a flu bug, schools had been penalised for opening which had an affect on the figures.  However, to assist with the new codings a training programme had been rolled out in respect of data collection although there was still some confusion in its recording.  Members also raised concerns in relation to setting targets that were not realistic and to the possibility of making amendments to local indicators or that they all be reviewed.  Members also queried the all Wales picture and were advised that comparable information was available on the Ffynnon system.

 

It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the Quarterly Service Plan Action Monitoring and performance report for the Inclusion Service be noted.

 

 

(ii)        School Improvement -

 

Members noted and accepted the comments contained in the report regarding the actions that had slipped. 

 

In referring to the numbers of pupils placed out of county and their achievements the Head of Service agreed to obtain the information for Members.  Again in considering the targets Members suggested that they be reviewed to ensure the Council was being realistic as to what could be attained.

 

Having considered the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the action plan and performance monitoring report be noted.

 

 

(iii)       Strategic Planning -

 

Only one action was reported as not having commenced due to the fact that the previous administration had decided not to test the market on the School Meals Service at that time.  With regard to performance indicator L278a (percentage of schools with 25% of places unfilled), the Head of Service advised that Ysgol Bro Morgannwg had currently fallen into the category and the school was fluctuating around the 25% target. It would not be until 2014 onwards that the larger cohorts that had recently entered Welsh Medium primary schools would directly impact on Bro Morgannwg resulting in any surplus capacity decreasing accordingly.

 

In relation to visitor numbers at libraries during the year per 1,000 population these had decreased, this was attributable to some additional closure days as a result of some essential works at a number of libraries plus the impact of industrial action that had taken place.  Performance Indicator L591cQ (the number of books issued to customers in other languages), it was noted that the EMAS team had identified the families in schools that the Council had not been able to engage with but that in light of schools encouraging people to take books from the schools libraries in other languages this would have an impact on the Library Service.  Members requested information via e-mail on which languages the new promotional leaflets were printed in.

 

In response to a question regarding the actual savings on the mobile provision, the Head of Service advised that this had been approximately £89,000. Members requested a detailed breakdown of the saving via e-mail.

 

Having considered the report it was

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the information as requested above be forwarded to Members in due course and the Action Plan and Performance Monitoring reports be noted.

 

 

194     NATIONAL LITERACY AND NUMERACY PROGRAMMES (CX) -

 

The report provided Members with an update on the requirements of the National Literacy and Numeracy programmes for schools.  In February 2011 the Minister for Education, Leighton Andrews, had announced his 20 point Improvement Plan for the education system in Wales and had reinforced the plan in his key note speech on 29th June, 2011 and again in 2012.

 

The Minister had also commissioned a team of literacy and numeracy advisors from across Wales to work with Welsh Government officials to devise a literacy and numeracy framework.

 

The report advised that the component strands of English were oracy, reading and writing and as part of the strategy framework for assessment, teachers were required to submit teacher assessments of each strand which would then be aggregated to form the final end of Key Stage assessments for English.  Within the Vale of Glamorgan, the Council had used a standardised reading test for many years and on an annual basis for all year groups from Year 1 to Year 9 not solely at the end of any one Key Stage.  As a result of the national framework all learners in Years 2 through to 9 would be required to be assessed using a national test for the first time in May 2013.  Welsh Government had awarded a contract to the National Foundation for Education Research for development of bespoke national reading tests. 

 

Learners following a Welsh language programme of study would also take a reading test in Welsh only in Years 2 and 3 but in both English and Welsh in Year 4 onwards.  It was anticipated that clear and concise guidance would be provided by Welsh Government to ensure consistency of administration balanced with key indications of where flexibility could be applied to ensure that administration was straight forward and did not present too great a burden on learners or teachers.

 

For the current academic year only, all local authorities including the Vale of Glamorgan had agreed a test in both primary and secondary schools on a voluntary basis.  The test would be introduced on a statutory basis from 2013.  The Head of Service informed Members that the new literacy framework and testing regime would be incorporated into the Council's School Improvement Programme via consultation with headteachers and partners in the new Joint Education School Improvement Service for the Central South Consortium.

 

Having considered the report it was also suggested that Members may wish to receive a training session on reading tests for their information and as such it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T a training session on reading tests for Members be arranged.

 

(2)       T H A T the report be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee receives quarterly progress reports to consider any follow up activity required.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To apprise Members.

 

(3)       In order that the programme can be scrutinised and monitored.

 

 

195     SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS (DLPPHS) -

 

The Committee was informed of progress in relation to uncompleted recommendations made by the Scrutiny Committee for the financial year 2009/10, 2011/12 and the 1st Quarter April to June 2012, the details of which were contained in Appendices A, B and C to the report.  Members views were requested in relation to the progress against each action and to confirm the actions to be deemed completed.

 

During consideration of the report reference was made to Minute No. 75 Recommendation (3) - Topic for Review with Members being advised by the Chairman that at the recent Scrutiny Chairmen and Vice-Chairman Group the suggested topic for review School's Surplus Places was put forward for consideration.  However, the topic had not been successful, as one of the two priorities for the Council, they had been agreed as the Welfare Reform Bill and Traffic Management throughout the Vale.

 

Although the topic had not been successful, the Chairman advised that it was possible that Members of the Committee could undertake a review on the matter themselves.  Aware of the need for resources to provide support for such a review, the Head of Service (Strategic Planning and Performance- Lifelong Learning Directorate) advised that officers from that service area could be made available to assist Members.

 

Members of the Committee agreed that the issue was an important one for the Council and that they would be happy to be involved in looking in detail at the issue.  It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the Chairman and Vice-Chairman consider a programme for undertaking such a review and inform Members accordingly.

 

(2)       T H A T the following recommendations be deemed completed as detailed below:

 

29 June 2009

Min. No. 146 - Implementation of the Foundation Phase in Vale of Glamorgan Schools (DLD) - Recommended

(2)       That a further report (April 2010) on the completion of the second phase of training for the Foundation Phase be presented to the Scrutiny Committee.

The Foundation Phase had now progressed and arrangements could be made for Members to visit individual schools if required.

Completed

18 January 2010

Min. No. 797 - Draft Service Plan 2010/11 - School Improvement (DLD) - Recommended

(2)   That the Director submit the draft survey to the Committee for consideration in respect of indicator SI/A45.

It being noted that the draft survey was somewhat outdated the action was deemed.

Completed

10 October 2011

 

Min. No. 505 - Revenue and Capital Monitoring for the Period 1st April 2011 to 31st August 2011 (DLD) - Recommended

(2)       That the Committee receives a further report to update Members on the position of the ALN overspend at the December meeting.

No overspend recorded, action therefore deemed completed.

Completed

20 February 2012

Min. No. 893 - Welsh Government Consultation - Shared Purpose - Shared Delivery (CX) - Recommended

(2)       That the response of the LSB partners to the above document be submitted to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration.

The LSB response was forwarded and the Welsh Government had collated responses from all over Wales, the details for which could be found on the Welsh Government website at http://wales.gov.uk/topics/improvingservices/localserviceboards/?lang=en

The Authority was awaiting further guidance as a result of the above and, where necessary, the Scrutiny Committee would be updated. It was therefore agreed that the progress be deemed

Completed

23 April 2012

 

Min. No. 1127 - Progress Report for Gladstone, Jenner Park and Oakfield Primary School (CX) - Recommended

That the progress in relation to Gladstone, Jenner Park and Oakfield Primary Schools be noted and that the further reports referred to above be presented to Scrutiny Committee in due course.

Added to work programme schedule.  Regular progress reports to be received.

Completed

Min. No. 1128 - Youth Service Provision Task and Finish Group Final Report (Report of the Chairman) - Recommended

(2)       That following Cabinet approval the Scrutiny Committee receives an update on the development of the recommendations within six months.

Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

25 June 2012

 

Min. No. 68 - Service Overview - Key Issues - Recommended

That 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.

Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 71 - Progress Report for Gladstone Primary, Jenner Park Primary, Colcot Primary and Oakfield Primary Schools (CX) - Recommended

That the progress reports be noted and that further progress update reports be submitted as and when available.

Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

It was also discussed that the information regarding pupil numbers that had been circulated to elected members should be forwarded to co-opted members and non -voting observers. The information was however, queried at the meeting with the Head of Service agreeing to confirm the details with the relevant Headteacher prior to the Scrutiny meeting in September 2012.  

 

Min. No. 75 - Scrutiny Forward Work Programme 2012/13 (DLPPHS) – Recommended

(2)   That 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.

E-mails received for Chairman and Vice-Chairman to approve. School Surplus places had clear support from Members and was put forward to the Scrutiny Chairmen and Vice Chairmen group. 

Completed

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To progress the issue.

 

(2)       To maintain effective tracking of the Committee's recommendations.

 

 

196     SCRUTINY COMMITTEES' - DRAFT ANNUAL REPORT MAY 2011 - APRIL 2012 (DLPPHS) -

 

The draft Annual Report at the Appendix to the report had been produced in accordance with Section 6.03(d) of Article 6 of the Vale of Glamorgan Council's Constitution which states that 'Scrutiny Committees must report annually to Full Council on their workings and make recommendations for future work programmes and amended working methods is appropriate.'

 

The Scrutiny Committees' Annual Report contained details of the work of all the Scrutiny Committees for the previous year together with details of the forward work programme for 2012/13.

 

Having considered the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the contents of the draft Annual Report for the period May 2011 to April 2012 be approved subject to any further minor amendments being agreed in consultation with the Chairman and that the report be presented to Full Council in September 2012.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To approve the draft Scrutiny Committees' Annual Report to allow it to be submitted to Full Council.

Share on facebook Like us on Facebook