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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 9th September, 2013.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

 

375     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillors Mrs. M.E.J. Birch, Ms. K. Edmunds, A. Parker and Mr. D. Treharne (Welsh Medium Education).

 

 

376     MINUTES –  

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 18th July, 2013 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

377     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations of interest were received.

 

 

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

 

Members were advised that overall the Education Budget was projected to balance as at the end of March 2014, with any savings identified being redirected into the School Investment Strategy or other reserves.  Provision had also 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. 

 

In considering Appendix 2 to the report which detailed the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st July 2013, it was noted that the works for Llancarfan and Ysgol Dewi Sant had recently been completed with some minor snagging.  With regard to the demolition of the former St. Cyres Comprehensive School, it was noted that this had been approved by Cabinet on 29th July 2013.  The cost of demolition would be funded from the School Investment Strategy fund which would be reimbursed by Capital receipts. 

 

Having considered the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the 2013/14 Revenue and Capital Monitoring be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In view of the contents of the report.

 

 

379     IMPROVEMENT PLAN 2013/14 (MD) –

 

The Part 2 Improvement Plan attached at Appendix A to the report was a document primarily looking back over 2012/13 and contained key performance measures along with targets and actions for 2012/13.  Members were advised that the performance information would be used by the Wales Audit Office to assess the Council’s capacity to improve and was therefore of critical importance to the reputation of the Council. 

 

The Plan was substantially complete, although further minor amendments would be required following additional information being provided by chief officers, changes to performance information provided by the Local Government Data Unit and from proof reading.  A final draft would be presented to Cabinet prior to approval by Full Council. 

 

In considering Objective 6: to increase attendance at secondary schools to achieve the Welsh top quartile performance of 2011/12, Members sought assurance from the Chief Learning and Skills Officer as to further improvements for this objective and were advised that various activities were being undertaken to increase attendance.  The Chief Learning and Skills Officer stated that Council wished to improve its position in the league table and that the Authority was continuing to support a range of activities to assist schools to increase attendance levels.  Following a request that the Committee receives reports on attendance on a quarterly basis, it being accepted that the information was available termly, Committee Members agreed that the Chief Learning and Skills Officer should report back to Committee with options for providing such information on a termly basis.  The Chairman also drew Members’ attention to an advertising banner that he had witnessed in the Rhondda Cynon Taf local authority area on a school gate which emphasised the need for school attendance.  He suggested that this may be an initiative the Vale could utilise with the Chief Learning and Skills Officer responding that she would consider the suggestion and report back to Committee. 

 

It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Improvement Plan for 2013/14 be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T the Chief Learning and Skills Officer consider options for reporting school attendance to the Scrutiny Committee and other initiatives to encourage school attendance.

 

(3)       T H A T reports on attendance be submitted to the Committee on a termly basis.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1-3)    To ensure that actions are taken to improve the performance of the Council.

 

           

380     PROGRESS REPORT ON THE DEVELOPMENT OF A YOUTH CABINET AND YOUTH MAYOR FOR THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN (CLSO) –

 

The report outlined the progress to develop a Youth Cabinet and Youth Mayor and the involvement of young people, Vale Youth Forum members and Trustees in the developments to date. 

 

Following the Youth Service Scrutiny Review of 2012 it had been agreed that a mechanism should be put in place which would give young people the opportunity to challenge and communicate with the Council and Cabinet on decisions that affected them.  The report outlined a proposed model (attached at Appendix 1 to the report) which would base the development of the Youth Cabinet and Youth Mayor around the existing Vale Youth Forum.  Officers had engaged with young people, designed a structure and model based on the young people’s view points and had moved the project on with young people engaged at almost every point. 

 

The election and appointment of a Youth Mayor would be held in Local Democracy Week commencing 14th October 2013 and secondary schools, youth groups, community and special interest groups and independent young people had been made aware of the process and would be given election packs to assist them in early September.  It was noted that young people had also suggested that the main communication method should be via Facebook. 

 

Members welcomed the report but queried how the Authority would be able to contact hard to reach children.  It was noted that most of the work would be undertaken through schools and colleges and by the use of social media. 

 

In response to a query as to whether the Council could learn any lessons from other Councils who had adopted similar models, it was noted that this had already been researched and experiences gained had been considered when devising the Vale’s model. 

 

The Chairman, with the support of the Committee, considered that it would be important for the Cabinet to consider whether the Youth Mayor should also become a non-voting member of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) and aware that this would require Full Council approval, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Cabinet be requested to consider the suggestion of the appointment of a Youth Mayor as a non-voting member of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) and refer to Council as appropriate.

 

(2)       T H A T the contents of the report be noted and the progress and developments of a constituted Youth Cabinet and the development of an election process for a Youth Mayor position be welcomed.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To encourage the voice of young people on the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) and to seek Council approval.

 

(2)       In noting the progress to date.

 

 

381     SUMMARY OF SCHOOL INSPECTION REPORTS FOR THE SUMMER TERM 2013 (CLSO) –

 

St. Cyres Comprehensive School and Ysgol Iolo Morgannwg had been inspected during the Summer Term 2013 and a summary of the investigation findings was appended to the report. 

 

The overall judgements achieved were as follows:

 

School

Overall Judgement

 

Current Performance

Prospects for Improvement

St Cyres

Adequate

Adequate

Ysgol Iolo Morgannwg

Good

Excellent

 

It was noted that whilst responsibility for producing the Action Plan rested with the schools, the Authority also had a number of key responsibilities, which included:

 

·               Agreeing the Post Inspection Action Plan;

·               Ensuring that any issues identified by Estyn relating to the Local Authority are addressed;

·               Ensuring that delivery of the action plan is monitored through advisor visits to schools;

·               Supporting schools to raise standards through identification and sharing of good practice.

 

St. Cyres School had been placed in a category requiring Estyn follow-up. This meant that Estyn would return to the school after one year to ensure that sufficient progress had been made against recommendations outlined in the report and Post Inspection Action Plan.

 

The Local Authority, through its regional school improvement service, would work in partnership with the school to secure the necessary improvements. 

 

In all instances the Directorate of Learning and Skills would work with schools to ensure an effective and robust action plan was developed to build upon areas of strengths and to address and identified shortcomings.

 

Members expressed concern in relation to the inspection of St. Cyres Comprehensive School and sought assurance from officers as to the support that would be provided for the school to improve.  The Chief Learning and Skills Officer advised the school was working on a draft Post Inspection Action Plan (PIAP) and was taking advice from the system leaders from the Consortium.  It was suggested that St. Cyres be added to the list of individual schools for Members to undertake progress meetings with and that a schedule be prepared to be presented to the Scrutiny Committee.  Members were also informed that further reports on performance of all schools and reading test information would be presented in due course, with it being urged by Members that any good practice identified be promoted throughout all schools in the Vale.  Members also requested that further information on the progress of the PIAP be presented to the next meeting of the Committee.

 

It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Committee’s congratulations be extended to Ysgol Iolo Morgannwg on receiving the overall judgements of good and excellent and that the whole school be congratulated on the inspection.

 

(2)       T H A T a schedule for individual schools progress meetings be submitted to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration.

 

(3)       T H A T all school performance information and details of reading tests undertaken be submitted to the Scrutiny Committee in November 2013.

 

(4)       T H A T progress on the Post Inspection Action Plan for St. Cyres Comprehensive School be presented to the next meeting.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To inform the school of the congratulations of the Scrutiny Committee.

 

(2-4)    To apprise Members. 

 

 

382     JOINT EDUCATION SERVICE (REF) –

 

The Audit Committee had referred the report on the Joint Education Service in order that the Scrutiny Committee could consider the likely intended outcomes for the service. 

 

The Wales Audit Office’s review of the governance arrangements of the Joint Education Service was detailed at Appendix A to the report.  Although overall, the WAO had concluded that at this early stage of implementation, the arrangements in place to manage the changes in school improvement services were still in the process of development, and the Council could not currently be confident that the JES was representing value for money for the Council.

 

The report concluded that:

 

·               The Council’s plan for managing the change in delivery of the schools improvement Service needed to be strengthened.

·               There was, currently, no formal, systematic means of testing whether or not the changes brought about by the introduction of the JES were working effectively.

·               Monitoring and reporting arrangements were in the process of being established but had yet to be fully implemented.

·               At a strategic level, work was needed to create a robust governance framework, particularly in respect of effective risk and performance management arrangements.

 

In considering the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Committee receives a report from the Chief Learning and Skills Officer on how the Council can improve its accountability arrangements with the JES.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In its monitoring role.

 

 

383     PENARTH LEARNING COMMUNITY – DELIVERY OF COMMUNITY BENEFITS – PROGRESS UPDATE (REF) –

 

Cabinet had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee for information which provided Members with information relating to the delivery of community benefits on the Penarth Learning Community Project.  It was noted that the delivery of added value through Community Benefits Policy was also an integral consideration in procurement and was one of the nine principles contained in the Welsh Government Procurement Policy.  The principles of community benefits were in accord with the Council’s procurement policy, strategy and guidance and had been applied to key schemes such as the development of the current Penarth Learning Community build. 

 

The main principles of targeted recruitment and training for Penarth Learning Community were to ensure that:

 

·               New opportunities were provided for new entrants, trainees and those leaving education including those currently not in employment, education or training.

·               The development by the contractor in conjunction with the Council and local agencies, realistic recruitment and training processes to ensure successful implementation of the Council’s requirements.

·               The contractor used and promoted local procurement and looked to work with local suppliers to develop their capacity.

·               Benefits to the local community of the scheme were maximised.

·               Working with local education providers and training bodies including but not limited to Cardiff and the Vale College, local schools and sixth  form provision.

 

Through the Targeted Recruitment and Training Method Statement the Council had stipulated the following outcomes:

 

The Council intends that for every £1m in contract value provided, the Contractor will provide a minimum of 80 weeks of employment for a New Entrant recruited from a source to be agreed with the Council.

 

The Penarth Learning Community contract value was £39.45m, equating to a total of 3,156 Person weeks of New Entrant involvement to be achieved during the construction and demolition process.

 

The definition of New Entrants was as follows:

 

Person Week                      

 

A person employed for 5 days on site.

 

This means the equivalent of the one person being employed for five days either on the development site or through a mix of work on the development site and elsewhere as agreed by the Employer.

 

New Entrant            

 

A person who is:

 

Leaving an educational establishment or a training provider.

 

A non-employed person, a school or college leaver, or an adult that has not been employed in the construction industry.

 

Other Trainees                   

 

Those who are not Apprentices but have a contract of employment or are self-employed.

 

Apprentice              

 

A person registered as an apprentice with an industry recognised body.

 

Leadbitter were working very closely with Working Links to help them not only achieve, but exceed the contractual target.  Working Links had a database of local, unemployed people and were able to sift through their lists to provide reliable candidates with the right level of experience or willingness to learn.

 

In addition to this, Working Links also had a vast network of organisations such as Careers Wales, Job Centre Plus and Work Choice.  This would ensure that a wider net was able to be cast to ensure as many opportunities as possible were offered to local people.

 

It was noted that by the end of May, the project had delivered over 50 educational interactions with the project schools (St. Cyres, Ysgol Maes Dyfan, Ysgol Erw’r Delyn and Ashgrove) together with surrounding primary schools.  These interactions ranged from lesson delivery in classrooms, to assembly presentations and support of the St. Cyres careers day.

The project had to date engaged with over 3,500 pupils.

 

The Head of Service for Strategic Planning and Performance informed Members that the Council was looking at this scheme to be an Exemplar project with the Cabinet Member confirming that the respite centre was being built entirely by apprentices who were taken from a local pool and were providing excellent work which he hoped the Committee would witness first hand in the forthcoming months with a site visit to the project.

 

Members, in noting that the progress being made was on track, extended their congratulations to the officers and the apprentices and confirmed that they would take up the offer of the site visit in due course. 

 

It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the progress to date be welcomed and the contents of the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In recognising the positive impact that the Penarth Learning Community was having on the local community.

 

           

384     CO EDUCATIONAL SECONDARY SCHOOL PROVISION IN BARRY (REF) –

 

The Head of Service advised that consultation on the co education scheme had commenced that day and following the consultation if support for it is found, a detailed feasibility study would then be carried out on the project.  The report of the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee School Places Review Task and Finish Group had recommended that Cabinet investigate the amalgamation of Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools into a single co educational school and as a result, consultation on the principles of working with the governing bodies of Barry and Bryn Hafren to develop detailed proposals for a co educational secondary school in Barry was to be carried out over a period of eight weeks.  The consultation process would include the publication of proposals online as well as face to face drop in sessions which would be publicised in due course.  The views of parents, pupils, governors, employees and the wider community would be sought.

 

In considering the report it was noted that the two schools had a long history and tradition of providing education to local children and young people.  Many of the residents of Barry and the surrounding villages had benefitted from attending the schools which made a very valuable contribution to the lives of their pupils and the community.  Recent Estyn reports had described the standards at Barry Comprehensive as good and the prospect for improvement at both schools was good.

 

In recent years feedback from parents to the Council's Admissions Team and comments received directly from schools suggested that a number of parents no longer favoured single sex education for their children. Some parents were choosing Welsh medium primary school education in order to access co educational secondary provision in Barry whilst others were opting for co educational secondary schools outside of Barry, often sending their children to the appropriate feeder primary schools to guarantee a place at their preferred secondary school. 

 

Having fully considered the report the Scrutiny Committee

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the consultation be welcomed.

 

(2)       T H A T a further report be presented to the Committee following the conclusion of the consultation.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In noting the recommendation of the Scrutiny Committee’s Task and Finish Group was being pursued by Cabinet.

 

(2)       To apprise Members following the consultation.

 

 

385     PUPIL WELLBEING STRATEGY (REF) –

 

The Chief Learning and Skills Officer stated that the purpose of the Strategy was to provide a framework within which the Vale of Glamorgan and partners could plan, commission and evaluate a sustainable and comprehensive programme to meet identified wellbeing needs within its education system from the Foundation Phase to the sixth form.  Reference was also made to the amount of good work that was already being carried out to improve wellbeing in education, which was detailed at Appendix 2 to the report.

 

It was noted that good wellbeing was a necessary condition for receptive learning and that the early identification and implementation of effective intervention programmes was key to securing good wellbeing. 

 

The purpose of the report was to seek the views of others to further shape and refine the document before finalising it at the end of the Autumn Term 2013.  Members of the Scrutiny Committee welcomed the report and aware that it would be an ever evolving document subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the report be endorsed.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In view of the contents of the report and that it would be an evolving document.

 

 

386     SCRUTINY COMMITTEES’ DRAFT ANNUAL REPORT – MAY 2012 TO APRIL 2013 AND SCRUTINY COMMITTEE WORK PROGRAMME (MD) –

 

The Scrutiny Committees’ Annual Report which had been circulated prior to the meeting included details of the work of all Scrutiny Committees for 2012/13 together with the details of the forward work programmes for each Committee. 

 

The report had been prepared in accordance with Section 6.03d of Article 6 of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Constitution which stated that Scrutiny Committees must report annually to Full Council on their workings and make recommendations for future work programmes and amended working methods as appropriate. 

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed a complete list of the work programme for the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) which detailed the reports which were scheduled to be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in the forthcoming months.  Members were informed that the information, together with the Annual Report, would be made available on the Council’s website. 

 

Tabled at the meeting were revised appendices to the Annual Report which had taken account of the membership changes that had taken place within the Scrutiny Committees for 2012/13 together with additional information on Call-in statistics and Requests for Consideration of Matter which provided more detailed information on the requests that had been made.

 

Having considered the report it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the content of the draft Annual Report for the period May 2012 to April 2013 and the revised appendices be approved subject to any further minor amendments being agreed in consultation with the Chairman and that the report be submitted to Full Council in September 2013.

 

(2)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee’s work programme for 2013/14, attached at Appendix 2 to the report, be confirmed subject to the additional reports being included as outlined during the meeting and that the work programme be uploaded to the Council’s website as appropriate.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To allow submission of the draft Scrutiny Committees’ Annual Report to Full Council in September 2013.

 

(2)       To confirm the Committee’s work programme and noting that the schedule of the approved list of items for consideration may be subsequently changed depending on prevailing circumstances.

           

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