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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 10th September, 2012.

 

Present:  Councillor N.P. Hodges (Chairman); Councillor Ms. R. Birch (Vice-Chairman); Councillors T.H. Jarvie, R.A. Penrose and E. Williams.

 

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

 

Non-voting Observer:  Mr. G. Beaudette (Primary) and Mr. D. Treharne (welsh Medium Education).

 

 

312     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Councillors Mrs. M.E.J. Birch, Ms. K.E. Edmunds, H.C. Hamilton, F.T. Johnson and Mrs. M. Kelly Owen. 

 

Members were made aware that Councillor Kelly Owen was currently in hospital and asked that their best wishes be conveyed to her for a speedy recovery.

 

 

313     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 23rd July, 2012 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

314     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

315     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING: 1ST APRIL, 2012 TO 31ST JULY, 2012 (MD) -

 

The report and the appendices thereto outlined the position in respect of capital and revenue expenditure for the above period regarding those budgets which formed this Committee’s remit.  Overall, the Education Budget was projected to balance as at the end of March 2013.  As regards:

 

·         Schools – the delegated budget relating to schools was expected to balance as any under / overspend would be carried forward by the schools

·         School Improvement – there was an overspend of £53k.

·         Access and Inclusion – Additional Learning Needs was projecting an overspend of £180k.

·         Strategy and Performance – strategic planning was projecting an underspend of £233k.  Particular reference was made to the difficulty in predicting the outturn in respect of maternity costs met on behalf of schools and that the position would be carefully monitored.

 

Further information in relation to the above was contained within the report.

 

Provision had been made within the budget for the annual cost of financing the School Investment Strategy of £600,000.  In addition, to finance the schools’ contribution to the ER/VR scheme, Education was projecting to transfer £66k. from Education Reserves.  In respect of Libraries, there was currently a £29k. favourable variance against the Profiled Budget.  As regards Catering, there was currently a £34k. favourable variance against the Profiled Budget.

 

Details of financial progress on the Capital Programme were appended to the report.  Particular reference was made to the Llancarfan and Gwenfo demountables for which a capital bid to upgrade the demountable units at those two schools had been accepted at £412k. and incorporated into the current year’s Capital Programme.  It was noted that tenders had been received and that it had become apparent that the initial budget would be insufficient to replace all units as originally planned.  In response to a question as to why that happened, the Head of Strategic Planning and Performance indicated that the estimates would have been based on historic prices plus inflation but that external market factors had resulted in significantly increased prices. The original plans were, therefore, being reworked in order to achieve the best outcome possible within the existing  budget. 

 

Appendix 3 to the report provided non-financial information on capital construction schemes with a budget of over £100,000.

 

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 July, 2012 be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To be aware of the position.

 

 

316     IMPROVEMENT PLAN 2012/13 (MD) –

 

The Council’s Part 1 Improvement Plan had been agreed by Cabinet on 18th April 2012.  The Part 2 Improvement Plan, as circulated under separate cover prior to the meeting, primarily looked back over 2011/12.  Information contained within the Plan was based on departmental service plans and also contained key performance measures along with targets and actions for 2012/13 as agreed by Scrutiny Committees in July 2012.  Whilst the Plan was substantially complete, further minor amendments would be required following changes to the performance information provided by the Local Government Data Unit and from proofreading.  The Operational Manager – Corporate Policy and Communication updated Members on the Welsh average in respect of the following:

 

·         page 21 – SCC037 – 193; SCC033 – (a) 92.65, (b) 90.9%, (c) 52.2%

·         page 23 – EDU 015 – (a) 73.3%, (b) 94.4%; EDU 002ii – 3.5%

·         page - LCL 001 – 6,048; L 721 – 148,000.

 

It was noted that the final draft would be presented to Cabinet in October.

 

In respect of questions relating to matters pertaining to both Additional Learning Needs and Improvement within the Education Service (namely SEN and pupils in local authority care), the Head of Service agreed to bring a report to the next meeting.  Discussion also ensued in relation to the number of visits to libraries and hits on the library website, both in terms of performance and future targets.  Suggestions were made as to ways of increasing footfall within libraries although caution was sounded given the potential practicalities of implementation.  Members were informed that the target relating to the number of library visits had been reduced to take into account the cessation of the mobile library service.  The Head of Strategic Planning and Performance would look into the reason why the target for the number of library website hits had reduced in consultation with the Chief Librarian and further discuss with the Chairman whether the target should be revisited.  Members agreed that, should the Chairman feel that the target be amended, Cabinet be requested to consider the same.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Improvement Plan for 2012/13 be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T the Head of Service for School Improvement, ALN and ACL submit a report to the next meeting in respect of SEN and pupils in local authority care.

 

(3)       T H A T the Head of Strategic Planning and Performance discuss the target set in respect of the number of library website hits with the Chairman and, if necessary, request Cabinet to consider amending the target.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure that actions are taken to improve the performance of the Council.

 

(2)       To apprise Members.

 

(3)       To ask Cabinet to consider revising the targets if appropriate.  

 

 

317     YOUTH SERVICE PROVISION TASK AND FINISH GROUP PROGRESS REPORT (MD) -

 

Members were informed of progress with implementing the recommendations arising from the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning)’s Task and Finish Group Review of the Youth Service in April 2012.  The Task and Finish Group had been tasked with undertaking a comprehensive review of the Vale of Glamorgan Youth Service between October 2011 and April 2012.  The review followed a restructuring of the Service with the aim of ensuring the Council had appropriate organisation and arrangement practices in place to meet its statutory obligations.  Cabinet had, on 30th May 2012, approved the recommendations of the Task and Finish Group subject to a further report being submitted to Cabinet on progress made in implementing the 21 recommendations of the Task and Finish Group. 

 

Appended to the report was an action plan which showed the progress made to date with regard to each of the 21 recommendations of the Task and Finish Group.  Further information on the progress made in collaboration with Bridgend County Borough Council was also appended to the report.

 

The Principal Youth Service Officer updated Members in respect of the Youth Service Plan at the meeting, examples of which included:

 

Reference

Further Progress

(3)

The expansion of the use of the V-Pod was being undertaken in partnership with Bridgend County Borough Council and most communities within the Vale had been visited.

(5)

Consultation was being undertaken with young people at the end of September to enhance the involvement of the Youth Forum in the decision-making process with a view to annual elections being held to elect a Youth Mayor to represent the views of that elected body and of young people in the Vale.  A report would be made to Scrutiny and Cabinet in due course.

 

Communications with young people and improved marketing would be made via social media site and the improved use of new technologies.

(8)

It was anticipated that a presentation evening recognising Youth Service achievements would be held in March 2013.

(11) and (19)

A consultation paper had been produced regarding a possible partnership for a joint Youth Service.  The service has already taken views and opinions from bodies such as the Welsh Local Government Association, Welsh Government and Estyn.  Recommendations were expected by the end of September as to which model would be suitable following which a further report would be submitted to this Committee and to Cabinet.

 

When asked whether contact had been made with Town / Community Councils on the proposed collaboration with Bridgend County Borough Council, the Principal Youth Officer indicated that all had been contacted some time ago but that only two had responded to date.  Several Members of the Committee indicated that they would draw the attention of their respective Councils to the same.  In response to a question in relation to the future of Cowbridge Youth Centre, the Principal Youth Officer indicated that, as shown in the report, further advice was awaited prior to any decision being taken.  The progress report had also referred to the development of new social networking sites which, the Principal Youth Officer confirmed, would be moderated and were being developed in partnership with Bridgend County Borough Council. 

 

Following comments in relation to the good progress made to date and the improved visibility of the Service, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the report be endorsed and referred to Cabinet for consideration on 1st October, 2012.

 

(2)       T H A T the consultation document referred to above be forwarded to all Members of the Committee.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure Cabinet is aware of the progress made.

 

(2)       To inform Town / Community Councils of the current position.

 

 

318     SUMMARY OF BRYN HAFREN COMPREHENSIVE SCHOOL INSPECTION REPORT: SUMMER TERM 2012 (MD) -

 

Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School had been inspected during the Summer Term of 2012 and awarded the following grades:

 

·         Overall performance – adequate

·         Capacity to improve – good.

 

A summary of the inspection findings was appended to the report.  Whilst the overall judgement contained within the summary illustrated a number of good features within the School’s work, current performance was judged as adequate overall because:

 

·         performance at Key Stage 3 had been below that of some of the schools over the last five years

·         pupils did not make enough progress in the minority of lessons where teaching did not engage or challenge them fully

·         strategies to develop pupils’ literary skills across the curriculum were not co-ordinated well enough and

·         the quality of marking varied too much between and within subjects.

 

The prospects for improvement had been considered good for numerous reasons, including the purposeful leadership of the Headteacher and leadership team who provided clear direction in all aspects of the School’s work and prudent and efficient management of resources.  The Head of Achievement drew particular attention to the paragraphs within the feedback report relating to Key Stage 3 and stressed that the Council would work with the School to support it through the new JES arrangements.  The recommendations contained within the inspection report included the need to raise standards, particularly in those areas where there was relative under-performance, including English and mathematics at Key Stage 3.  Discussion ensued as to whether there were any specific reasons in relation to Bryn Hafren which could explain the inspection findings.  Reference was made to the fact that it was an all girls school, that not all pupils spoke English as a first language and that there were transition factors between Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3.  The Head of Service stressed, however, that 48% of schools in Wales were in “follow-up” under the new inspection framework.  When asked where it fitted in the all-Wales average, the Head of Service commented that it did very well and that it would not take long for the School to be able to evidence satisfactory improvement.  The Head of Service also confirmed that this Committee would be informed of progress on the Post Inspection Action Plan as and when available.

 

Details were also contained within the report of the purposes of the inspection, whether the School required any follow up activity, the main forms of evidence considered in the conduct of school inspections, and the structure of the inspection report. 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the report be endorsed and referred to Cabinet for consideration on 1st October, 2012.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To develop a shared understanding about the outcomes of school inspections and the work of schools in the Authority.

 

 

319     CENTRAL SOUTH CONSORTIUM FOR EDUCATION SERVICES (REF) –

           

Cabinet had, on 30th July, 2012, been updated on the progress achieved in establishing the Central South Consortium (CSC) Education Service, had inter alia noted the progress to date and referred the report to this Committee for consideration.  Cabinet had also requested further reports on the establishment of CSC Education Service in September 2012.  That update report would be considered at the next item as part of the pre-Cabinet scrutiny process.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the reference be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

The decisions of Cabinet were received for information.

 

 

320     CENTRAL SOUTH CONSORTIUM JOINT EDUCATION SERVICE (JES) UPDATE REPORT (MD) -

 

Members were apprised of the current developments in relation to the implementation of the Joint Education Service (JES) for Central South Consortium.  The Head of Achievement explained that the three Advisory Services of the Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff and ESIS had effectively been combined to form the new JES.  The Operating Model had now been completed which set out how a team of System Leaders would deliver the statutory school improvement functions to approximately 426 schools in the Consortium.  The Operating Model also set out the management structure for the System Leader Pool.  All staff within the Vale of Glamorgan had secured posts in the new joint arrangements.  The five members of the Senior System Leader (SSL) team had been established with one SSL being allocated to each Authority who would act as the Authority-facing Link Officer.  That Officer would work closely with the Lead Officer for School Improvement.  As well as delivering the Universal Service of Challenge, Monitor and Intervention (CMI), System Leaders would also deliver a range of case work services.  Such services would consist of support for, for example, headteacher performance management and senior leader appointments (headteachers and deputy headteachers).  Further details in respect of the roles of SSLs, SLs and others were contained within the report.  In response to a question, the Head of Achievement indicated that System Leaders would be very focused on pupils, identifying those who had not reached the level required by name, and that extensive training was being offered to those System Leaders in order to undertake their duties fully. 

 

Following further discussion on the above and related matters, including the interaction of governors and System Leaders, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the report be endorsed and referred to Cabinet for consideration on 1st October 2012.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To provide Members with an opportunity to scrutinise plans and confirm arrangements.


 

321     FIRST QUARTER PERFORMANCE MONITORING REPORTS (MD) –

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the following reports be noted:

 

·         Inclusion Service

·         School Improvement

·         Strategic Planning and Performance

·         Sickness and Absence (New Corporate Structure).

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To have regard to the information provided.

 

 

322     EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC –

 

RESOLVED - T H A T under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part 4 of Schedule 12A (as amended) of the Act, the relevant paragraphs of the Schedule being referred to in brackets after the minute heading.

 

 

323     PROGRESS REPORT FOR OAKFIELD PRIMARY SCHOOL (EXEMPT INFORMATION – PARAGRAPHS 12 AND 13) (MD) –

 

Members were notified of the good progress being made at the School in relation to the Post Inspection Action Plan (PIAP), a revised copy of which was appended to the report.  Whilst matters remained to be addressed, the Head of Achievement gave a verbal update of the statistics which showed improved performance.  The Head of Strategic Planning and Performance also updated Members in relation to pupil numbers at the School which had been referred to at the previous meeting (Minute No. 71).  She commented that the figures had been double checked with the School and centrally and that the figures given at the previous meeting had been correct. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the progress to date be recognised.

 

(2)       T H A T a letter recognising the hard work which had been undertaken be sent to the Chairman of the Governing Body.

 

(3)       T H A T the report be forwarded to Cabinet for consideration.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To ensure that Members are kept fully informed on the progress to date and the efforts of the Governing Body recognised.

 

(3)       To inform Cabinet of the views of this Committee.