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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 18th July, 2013.

 

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

 

Co-opted Members:  Mr. P. Burke (Roman Catholic Church) and Mr. L. Kellaway (Parent Governor – Primary Sector).

 

Also present: Councillor C.P.J. Elmore.

 

 

271     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillors Mrs. M.E.J. Birch and H.C. Hamilton and Dr. C. Brown (Co-opted Member) and Mr. D. Treharne (Welsh Medium Education Non Voting Observer).

 

 

272     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 24th June, 2013 be approved as a correct record subject to the following amendment to Minute 'Release of Part II Scrutiny Report: School Places Review':

 

(1)       T H A T the Part II restriction on the report be removed on 2nd January, 2014.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet be informed of the above.

 

 

273     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations of interest were received.

 

 

274     CENTRAL SOUTH CONSORTIUM JOINT EDUCATION SERVICE: JOINT SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (MD) –

 

The Democratic and Scrutiny Officer presented the report which advised Members of the progress towards the establishment of arrangements for joint scrutiny of the Central South Consortium Joint Education Service. Agreement was also sought agreement for the proposed Terms of Reference for the Joint Scrutiny Committee. Welsh Government was encouraging local authorities to establish joint scrutiny arrangements to support robust governance of the increased range of services delivered in partnership with other Councils or public, third sector or private organisations.  With this in mind, it was considered opportune to establish such arrangements in respect of the Central South Consortium Joint Education Service

 

For some time, Scrutiny Officers from the five constituent authorities (Bridgend, Cardiff, Merthyr, Rhondda Cynon Taf and the Vale of Glamorgan) had been in discussion regarding the potential establishment of a Joint Scrutiny Committee.  An officer funded by the Centre for Public Scrutiny (CfPS) was also involved in the project and had been engaged in the drawing up of suggested draft Terms of Reference.

 

Members were reminded that at the last meeting of the Full Council held on 26th June, two Members of the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee had been nominated to sit as representatives on the Joint Scrutiny Committee, namely Councillors Ms. R. Birch, Vice-Chairman of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning), and A. Parker, Members of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning). 

 

The Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer referred in particular to paragraph 8 of the report which stated that it should be noted that the establishment of a Joint Scrutiny Committee was not intended to replicate, or duplicate, the role of the individual authorities' Scrutiny Committees.  Its primary focus would be to hold the Consortium to account in terms of delivering school improvement services.  Responsibility for scrutinising the performance of individual education services and / school would remain with each of the constituent authorities.  However, in order to ensure Member awareness of the work of the Joint Scrutiny Committee, minutes of its meetings would be reported to the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) for information. 

 

Members were also advised that it was anticipated that the Joint Scrutiny Committee would meet at least four times a year and that the draft Terms of Reference attached at Appendix B to the report would be reported to Full Council in September for approval.  In order to assist Members’ awareness, attached at Appendix A to the report was the overall governance structure of the Central South Consortium Joint Education Service. 

 

Following consideration of the report it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

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

 

(2)       T H A T the draft Terms of Reference for the Joint Scrutiny Committee as set out and attached to the report be endorsed.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To facilitate the Council’s involvement in joint scrutiny arrangements.

 

 

275     YOUTH SUPPORT SERVICES STRATEGY (REF) –

 

The report had been referred to the Scrutiny Committee by the Cabinet on 17th June for information.  Cabinet approval had been sought to approve the Youth Support Services Strategy and its action plan which were attached as appendices to the report.

 

The Head of Strategic Planning and Performance advised that the Local Authority had a duty to provide youth support services and participate in the provision of services with other bodies and persons or commission the provision of services through other bodies.  Youth Support Services encompassed all organisations that provided a service to young people aged 11 to 25. 

 

The report outlined that the Youth Support Services Strategy would:

 

·               demonstrate a cohesive multi-agency approach to the development and performance management of youth support services for young people

·               improve co-ordination and allocation of resources avoiding duplication of effort

·               increase opportunities to access and share data and information

·               identify, prioritise and meet the needs of young people in the most efficient and effective way

·               measure the impact of work with young people in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

The Chairman welcomed the service for young people up to the age of 25 and noted the positive deadlines contained within the report.  It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In noting the strategy identified priorities for Youth Support Services across the Vale and the necessary actions to ensure outcomes were met.

 

 

276     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL 2013 TO 31ST MAY 2013 (CLSO) –

 

The revenue budget and projected outturn for 2013/14 was shown at Appendix 1 to the report.  The Operational Manager for Finance and Systems advised that overall the Education budget was projected to balance as at the end of March 2014 and any savings identified between now and the end of the year that would be made available would be redirected into the School Investment Strategy or other reserves.

 

In referring to the service area Access and Inclusion, it was noted that whilst the budget was currently projected to outturn on target, a major ongoing issue was the continued pressure to manage the children’s placements budget.  Cabinet had, on 17th June 2013, approved the proposal to set up a jointly funded budget for Residential Placements for Looked After Children.  The Education Service was also projecting to transfer £176k.  to reserves as part of the Voluntary Early Retirement and Redundancy scheme.  This was made up of £273k which had been received from schools to repay arrangements made in previous years and £97k required to finance new arrangements under the scheme.  Members were informed that any variations to the budget would be reported to future meetings.

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st May 2013.  The Appendix also included approved slippage for unspent committed capital expenditure slipped from 2012/13 into 2013/14 and these had been approved by exercising the Managing Director’s delegated emergency powers. 

 

For all schemes where it was evident that the full year’s budget would not be spent during the year, relevant officers were required to provide an explanation for the shortfall as detailed below:

 

Schools IT Loans - An annual budget of £150k was drawn upon by various primary and secondary schools each year in order to purchase new IT equipment via initial use of the Council's IT Fund, which was then repaid over a fixed period, typically three years. The arrangement saved the Authority money by avoiding the relatively high interest rates charged on external lease purchase agreements and, in addition, the equipment could be retained by the schools at the end of the repayment term rather than being returned to the leasing company.  It was therefore proposed that Cabinet approve an annual increase of £50k, to £200k per annum on this budget, for the current and future years, in order to maximise use of the scheme.

 

Cashless Catering and Management Information System - An allocation of £300k was in place for 2013/14 for the introduction of a fully integrated cashless catering operation in all primary and secondary schools which, amongst other efficiencies, it was stated should free up administration time spent on collecting school dinner money.  The rollout over all schools, however, was likely to take longer than one year to complete so the client had requested that their budget be split between 2013/14 and 2014/15.  It was therefore requested that £140k remained in 2013/14 but that the sum of £160k be carried forward into 2014/15 to complete the roll out.  For Members information the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer advised that at a recent meeting that week the Scrutiny Committee Corporate Resources had asked for a full report in relation to the system to be submitted which they considered should also be referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning). 

 

Having considered the report it was 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the position with regard to the 2013/14 revenue and capital monitoring be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the proposed amendment to increase the Schools IT Loans budget to £200k be endorsed and referred to Cabinet for approval.

 

(3)       T H A T the proposed amendment to reduce the Cashless Catering and Management Information System budget to £140k be endorsed and referred to Cabinet for approval.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure that Members are aware of the position with regard to the 2013/14 revenue and capital monitoring budget.

 

(2&3)  To seek approval to make amendments to the Capital Programme.

 

 

277     CLOSURE OF ACCOUNTS 2012/13 (CLSO) –

 

Members were informed that the accounts were now complete and the report had been prepared to inform the Committee of the provisional financial position of the Directorate for the 2012/13 financial year.

 

The following table compared the amended estimate and the actual expenditure for the Directorate.

 

Service

Amended Revenue Estimate

Total Provisional Actual

Variance Favourable  () Adverse

 

       £’000

          £’000

             £’000

Education and Schools

90,502

90,483

19

Libraries

2,609

2,606

3

Lifelong Learning

199

197

2

Youth Services

1,142

1,139

3

Catering

1,021

1,016

5

 

 

 

 

Total

95,473

95,441

32

 

Members were further advised that the main reasons for the variances were as set out in paragraphs 10 to 24 of the report.

 

With regard to capital, a detailed breakdown of the schemes was shown at Appendix 2 to the report and the report also detailed the schemes with major variances at paragraphs 26 to 28. 

 

Appendix 3 to the report detailed the Directorate’s reserves as at 31st March 2013, with Members being advised that the reserves had been reviewed and were currently considered adequate for reported uses.

 

It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the slippage requests at Appendix 4 to the report and the use of the Managing Director’s emergency powers be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the remainder of the report and the financial measures taken and proposed be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To note the amendments to the 2013/14 Capital Programme due to slippage from 2012/13.

 

(2)       To note the remainder of the report and the financial measures that had been taken and proposed.

 

 

278     SCHOOL CATCH-UP LITERACY AND NUMERACY INTERVENTION PROGRAMME (CLSO) –

 

The report provided Committee with an overview of the work of the Catch-up Literacy and Numeracy Intervention Programmes.  The Head of Service for School Improvement and Inclusion advised that both the Catch-up Literacy and Numeracy Intervention Programmes were designed to help pupils who had difficulty developing their reading and number skills respectively.  To date the Council had trained 635 support staff to deliver Catch-up Literacy and 249 for Catch-up Numeracy.  In total 700 pupils had benefitted from the approach with each pupil receiving two one-to-one sessions per week.  Identified pupils received Catch-up from Year 2 to Year 6 and more recently through to Year 9. 

 

With regard to data capture for Catch-up Literacy and in terms of tracking pupils’ progress, it was only the current Year 6 pupils that had data recorded for the previous three years and it was therefore only data from this cohort that could be considered as evidence when analysing progress and the sustainability of pupil progress over time.

 

Secondary age pupils had only recently started accessing the intervention programme and, as such, three years worth of raw data was not yet available for analysis of progress or for sustainability of progress over time.

 

For these reasons, it was also not possible yet to determine if progress had been sustained for individual pupils from Year 2 through to Year 9, although it was possible to determine progress for pupils between Year 2 and Year 6.

 

Pupils with the potential to 'catch-up' were identified early in Year 2 using a data matrix (called a scattergram) which compared a pupil's non-verbal reasoning scores with standardised reading scores. Pupils with medium to high non-verbal scores coupled with relatively low reading scores were identified as being the most capable of making accelerated progress in reading and to ultimately 'catch-up'. These pupils would usually be placed on the school Special Educational Needs Register (SEN) and identified as requiring a measure of support at School Action (SA) level.

 

School Action support meant that the school itself would intervene and implement an intervention programme tailored to the needs of the pupil, without the additional support of any external agencies. Learning Support Assistants usually delivered the intervention programmes to identified pupils at SA level.

 

A similar approach was used to identify pupils for Catch-up Numeracy support although the process was less advanced due to the fact that Catch-up Numeracy had not been operating in schools for the same duration of time and had only recently been co-ordinated by the Catch-up Co-ordinator.

 

The report highlighted that to date 337 deliverers of Catch-up Literacy hade achieved Level 1 for literacy, 188 Level 2 and 154 Level 3 and 82 deliverers of Catch-up Numeracy had achieved Level 1 for numeracy, 21 Level 2 and 15 Level 3.

 

Several schools had achieved the Catch-Up Award for Excellence which recognised high quality provision.  3 schools had achieved the Bronze and 4 the Gold. In the Vale the large team of Catch-up Literacy and Catch-up Numeracy providers had been co-ordinated and professionally developed by the Catch Up Co-ordinator.  This function would transfer to the Regional Joint Education Service in readiness for September 2013. The Council would then commission this function from the Joint Education Service using a portion of the School Effectiveness Grant.

 

Members were informed that the cost of delivering Catch-up to pupils was approximately £130 per intervention which would however need to be reviewed when the Authority commissioned services from the Joint Education Service. 

 

In response to a Member’s question as to whether the governing bodies were informed or provided with the information, the Head of Service advised that they were informed and would be expected to use the information to  'drill down'  so that certain areas can be considered in depth and appropriate questions asked. The Head of Service also advised that Welsh Government had recognised that 'Catch-up' was an effective programme for schools to spend their funding on. 

 

The Chairman, although noting that the intervention programmes were not the sole reason for improvements in schools, considered that the information presented provided the Committee with the detail of the excellent work being undertaken.  It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the excellent work of schools and the Catch-up Co-ordinator be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In view of the information provided and the development of the shared understanding of the programme to date which provides further opportunity for scrutiny of the programme going forward.

 

 

279     END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE 2012/13 AND PERFORMANCE INDICATORS 2013/14 (MD) –

 

Attached to the report were the action monitoring and performance reports monitored by the Committee by service area.  Measures highlighted in blue on the performance reports were proposed for deletion for 2013/14 and an additional document was attached which listed all performance indicators proposed for collection as part of 2013/14 service plan monitoring.  Members were informed that all measures had been renamed for ease of reference in relation to the new service plans and newly proposed performance indicators had been highlighted in yellow.  It was further noted that performance indicators with the abbreviations (NSI), (PAM) or (NSI/PAM) beside the reference were statutory indicators and could not be amended or deleted.

 

In considering the reports the following was discussed:

 

Additional Learning Needs PI Nos

L82aA – Percentage of females attending youth activities

The Head of Service stated that the Youth service continues to be successful in attracting girls and therefore there was no continuing need to report this performance measure which was proposed for deletion.

L82bA – Percentage of males that attend youth activities

There were good levels of participation by males due to the drive to increase enrolment in the Duke of Edinburgh Award.  For this reason the target was proposed for deletion deleted. 

 

Both of the above PI’s had been requested to be deleted as they were a reflection that the Authority always performed close to target in any event. They would continue to be monitored but the Department did not consider there were any measures that needed to be addressed.

 

 School Improvement PI Nos

L874Q 'The average number of working days / shifts per full time equivalent School Improvement employee lost due to sickness absence'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Strategic Planning and Performance

L597 Percentage of schools that buy back access into a financial support package.

 

 

LCL002AQ the number of publicly accessible computers per 10,000 population

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All sickness absence was managed in accordance with the Absence Management Policy.  The target had been marginally exceeded primarily due to long term sickness.  Short term sickness figures had been relatively low for the end of year.  Members were also informed that these PIs were to be collected corporately and referred to the Corporate Resources Directorate with any areas of concern being raised with the appropriate Scrutiny Committee for further analysis.

 

 

 

The target only related to one school and was therefore proposed to be deleted for 2013/14.

 

The Head of Service advised that the whole issue of usage of PCs in libraries was to be addressed as it was apparent that the public more and more used their own home or private laptops. Thus the use of static PC’s at libraries had decreased.  A full review of the library service was to take place later in the year which would be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in due course.

 

Having considered the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the performance, action monitoring and performance indictor reports be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the PIs proposed for deletion as attached to the report be endorsed and the actions in relation to slippage be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T the changes to performance indicators and performance reporting arrangements in 2013/14 be agreed.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To inform Members.

 

(2&3)  To ensure that arrangements for the collecting and reporting of performance information reflects Scrutiny Committee’s priorities and was in keeping with the new service planning and reporting arrangements.

 

 

280     SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS (DR) –

 

Members were advised of progress in relation to uncompleted recommendations made by the Scrutiny Committee for the financial year 2012/13 detailed at Appendix A to the report and for the first quarter April to June 2013 detailed at Appendix B to the report.  Members’ views were requested relating to the progress against each recommendation, to identify whether any further action is required, to ensure the required action was undertaken and to confirm the actions which were deemed as completed.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the following progress against the recommendations be noted :

 

10 September 2012

Min. No. 317 - Youth Service Provision Task and Finish Group Progress Report (MD) – Recommended

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

 

 

 

 

Progress report to be presented September 2013.

Ongoing

23 May 2013

Min. No. 52 - Summary of School Inspection Reports for the Spring Term 2013 (CLSO) – Recommended

(2)   That the good practice identified as excellent be shared with the Scrutiny Committee and with other schools in the Vale as soon as practicable.

 

 

 

The Head of Service advised that a number of schools had already visited the relevant school to share the good practice but that she would also encourage this to be addressed with Headteachers in the next academic year.

Ongoing

 

24 June 2013

Min. No. 122 - Individual Schools Progress Meetings (CLSO) – Recommended

(3)   That the report be referred to Cabinet for consideration and / or approval.

 

 

 

The recommendation was to be referred to Cabinet on 29th July and therefore was deemed as Ongoing.

Min. No. 123 - Central South Consortium Joint Education Service Progress Report: May 2013 (CLSO) – Recommended

(2)   That the report be referred to the Cabinet for information.

 

 

 

The recommendation was to be referred to Cabinet on 29th July and therefore was deemed as Ongoing.

 

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

 

22 April 2013

Min. No.1090  - Improvement Objectives 2013/14 (MD) – Recommended

(1)   That Cabinet be requested to consider increasing the targets identified for 2013/14 under Objective 4 by more than 1%.

 

(2)   That Cabinet be requested to consider introducing measures for the early identification of NEETS at the end of Year 9.

 

 

 

(1)   Cabinet noted the recommendation aware that  the targets were to be reviewed in the Autumn

Completed

(2)   Cabinet noted the recommendation aware that early identification is being addressed as part of the NEETs strategy.

Completed

Min. No. 1091 - Summary of School Inspection Report for the Spring Term 2013 (CLSO) – Recommended

(1)   That the report be referred to Cabinet for information in recognising the good work that had been achieved.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(2)   That a letter of congratulations be forwarded to the school by the Chairman on behalf of the Scrutiny Committee.

 

 

 

(1)   Cabinet, on 20 May 2013, noted the good work achieved by Cogan Nursery School and resolved that a letter of congratulations be sent to Cogan Nursery School, Albert Primary School and Barry Island Primary School by the Leader on behalf of the Cabinet (Min. No C1332 refers)

Completed

 

(2)   Letter sent.

Completed

23 May 2013

Min. No. 50 - School Admission Arrangements 2014/15 (REF) – Recommended

(2)   That Cabinet be requested to consider the possible forthcoming military expansion in the area to ensure that school admissions are planned for accordingly.

 

 

 

Cabinet, on 17 June 2013, noted the report (Min. No. C1362 refers).

Completed

 

Min. No. 51 - NEETS Provision in the Vale of Glamorgan (CLSO) – Recommended

(2)   That six monthly progress updates on NEETs provision in the Vale of Glamorgan be presented to the Scrutiny Committee and the work programme be amended accordingly.

(3)   That the report be referred to Cabinet for information advising of the measures contained therein to secure further improvement.

 

 

 

(2)   Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

 

 

(3)   Cabinet, on 17 June 2013, noted the report (Min. No. C1361 refers).

Completed

Min. No. 52 - Summary of School Inspection Reports for the Spring Term 2013 (CLSO) – Recommended

(1)   That the Scrutiny Committee notes with great pleasure the results of the inspections and the Chairman writes on behalf of the Committee to the Schools expressing congratulations and thanks for the good work.

(3)   That the report be referred to Cabinet for consideration and / or information.

 

 

 

(1)   Letter sent.

Completed

 

 

 

  

(3)   Cabinet, on 17 June 2013, noted the reports and resolved that a letter of congratulations be sent on behalf of Cabinet to both schools commending the Governors, Staff and children for their hard work (Min. No. C1361 refers).

Completed

Min. No. 53 - Central South Consortium Performance Stocktake Report (CLSO) – Recommended

(2)   That Cabinet be informed of the Scrutiny Committee’s concerns at the delay in setting up a joint scrutiny committee of the JES and that Cabinet’s attention be also drawn to the reference to St. Cyres School contained within the appendix to the report.

 

 

  

Cabinet, on 17 June 2013, noted the Scrutiny Committee’s concerns (Min. No. C1359 refers).

Completed

Min. No. 54 - School and Community Based Counselling Service for Young People (CLSO) – Recommended

(2)   That the Scrutiny Committee continues to monitor progress on the development of the service and that the work programme schedule for the Committee be amended to include that an annual update is presented in May or June of each year.

(3)   That the report be referred to Cabinet in order for Cabinet to consider the progress that had been made to date.

 

 

  

(2)   Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

 

 

 

 

(3)   Cabinet, on 17 June 2013, noted the excellent work and progress made and resolved that all staff be formally thanked for providing and improving services (Min. No. C1363 refers).

Completed

Min. No. 55 - Task and Finish Activities for 2013/14 (HDS) – Recommended that the following topic for review be forwarded to the Scrutiny Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group for consideration:

·        Early Years Provision in the Vale of Glamorgan, including Flying Start.

 

Referred to Scrutiny Committee Chairmen and Vice-Chairmen Group 25 June 2013.

Completed

24 June 2013

Min. No. 120 - Release of Part II Scrutiny Report: School Places Review (CLSO) – Recommended that Cabinet be informed that it was the wish of this Committee to release the report to the public on or after 1st January 2014. 

It was recommended that Cabinet be informed that it was the wish of this Committee to release this report to the public on or after 1st January 2014.  However, at the meeting, Members agreed the minutes subject to the following amendments:

(1)       That the Part II restriction on the report be removed on 2nd January, 2014.

(2)       That Cabinet be informed of the above.

 

The Democratic Services Officer advised that the reference would be presented to Cabinet at its 29th July meeting.

 

In view of the above Members deemed the action as

Completed.

Min. No. 122 - Individual Schools Progress Meetings (CLSO) – Recommended

(2)   That a further report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee following the revisit to the School in October 2013.

 

 

 

 

Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 123 - Central South Consortium Joint Education Service Progress Report: May 2013 (CLSO) – Recommended

(3)   That progress on the Joint Scrutiny meetings of the Joint Education Service be reported to this Committee.

 

  

 

Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In order that further progress on the recommendations can be reported to Members in due course.

 

(2)       That the recommendations deemed completed be accepted in consideration of the progress and action that had been taken.