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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 14th October, 2013.

 

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

 

 

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

 

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

 

Also present:  Councillor Dr. I.J. Johnson.

 

 

487     APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE -

 

This was received from Councillor F.T. Johnson.

 

 

488     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 9th September, 2013 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

489     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

The following declarations were received:

 

Councillor N.P. Hodges (Chairman), Councillor H.C. Hamilton and Mr. D. Treharne all declared an interest in Agenda Item No. 7 in that they were governors of one of the schools and would leave the room when the item was to be discussed.

 

 

490     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL, 2013 TO 31ST AUGUST, 2013 (CLSO) -

 

The Resource Management Accountant advised that the revenue budget's projected outturn for 2014 was shown at Appendix 1 to the report, the overall the Education budget was projected to balance at the end of March 2014 and that any savings identified would be available to be re-directed to the School Investment Strategy or other reserves.  There was currently a £34,000 overspend projected in respect of School Improvement due to the failure to achieve the vacancy provision, additional support required by the School Improvement Service of £12,000 and additional hours worked in Governor Support of £2,000.  There was currently a £34,000 underspend projected for the Access and Inclusion Service and it was anticipated that there would be an overspend of £67,000 against Learning Support Assistants, and an overspend of £97,000 against placements that did not fall under the joint funding arrangement.  This would however be off-set by additional recruitment income generated from out of county placements of £233,000.  Also included within the Access and Inclusion projected outturn was an overspend of £35,000 against the jointly funded budget for Residential Placements for Looked After Children.  Provision had also been made within the budget for the annual cost of financing the School Investment Strategy of £612,000 and the sum would be transferred to the School Investment Strategy reserves.  A further contribution to the reserve of £44,000 would be made for other local authorities contributions to the Penarth Learning Community.  The Education Department was also projecting to transfer £170,000 to reserves as part of the Voluntary Early Retirement and Redundancy Scheme. 

 

With regard to the Library Service there was currently a £20,000 favourable variance due to staff vacancies but this would be utilised within the service during the coming months and the service was therefore expected to outturn on target at year end. Similarly for the Lifelong Learning Service area a favourable variance of £24,000 due to staff vacancies would also be used within the service during the coming months.  

 

The Youth Service is currently breaking even and is projected to outturn on target at year end.

 

For the Catering service, it was noted that although there was a £64,000 favourable variance the service could be affected by external factors at any time such as snow closures or the requirement to meet Welsh Government nutritional guidelines and therefore it is currently predicted that it will outturn on budget.

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st August and for all schemes where it was evident the full year's budget would not be spent during the year, the relevant officers were required to provide an explanation for the shortfall which would be taken to the earliest available Cabinet.

Appendix 3 to the report provided non-financial information on all capital construction schemes.

 

In referring to Capital Monitoring projects Members queried the re-modelling progress on Gladstone Primary School where tenders had been due to be returned by 7th October 2013.  The Accountant advised which was accepted by Members that full details of the progress would be addressed in the next Revenue and Capital Monitoring report to Committee.

 

It was subsequently

 

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.

 

 

491     A VISION FOR A NEW NATIONAL YOUTH WORK STRATEGY FOR WALES 2013-18 (REF) -

 

Cabinet had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee for information at its meeting on 9th September, 2013 with Cabinet being advised of the consultation that was being undertaken by Welsh Government on 'A Vision for a New National Youth Work Strategy for Wales 2013-2018' and to agree a response. 

 

The Minister for Education and Skills had committed in the Welsh Government Programme for Government Progress Report 2012 to update the National Youth Service Strategy and the consultation document supported the delivery of this commitment.

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council had developed a NEET Strategy and Youth Support Service Strategy which had similar themes in their action plans to those which were evident in the consultation document.  The Council was developing systems to implement an Engagement and Progression framework from September 2013 aimed at supporting young people into sustained engagement, training and employment.

 

The Principal Youth Officer advised the Scrutiny Committee that a number of the aspirations in the document were visions for the future and that good relationships with schools needed to be encouraged and maintained.  As detailed in the response at Appendix 2 to the report, he stated that it needed to be stressed that the proposals did not have clear guidance or specific criteria implementation and would need further development and consultation if they were to become performance or action plan measures.  The response also commented on the need to ensure the availability of resources to implement the Strategy.

 

In response to a concern by a Member regarding resourcing issues and the expectations that will be put on the Voluntary Sector the Principal Officer further advised of his concerns in this regard which he had also expressed to Welsh Government as the Voluntary Sector would require funding and training. It was therefore important that further assurances with regard to this matter were received from Welsh Government. 

 

In noting that the response had to be returned to the Welsh Government by 16th September, 2013 and that further reports would be submitted to the Committee in due course, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In view of the contents of the report.

 

 

492     RESPONSE TO THE WELSH GOVERNMENT'S PROPOSALS FOR THE FUTURE DELIVERY OF EDUCATION SERVICES IN WALES (REF) -

 

Members were provided with an overview of the key themes contained in Robert Hill's report 'The Future Delivery of Education Services in Wales', it being noted that Cabinet had agreed that the draft response to the Welsh Government's consultation had been agreed under the Urgent Decision Procedure in order to meet the deadline for submission by 13th September, 2013.

 

Robert Hill’s report sought to improve classroom teaching and learning by a system-wide set of changes including changes to classroom practice, school leadership and organisation and changes to the arrangements for providing school improvement services.

 

The chapter relating to the organisation of school improvement functions included references to the current wider review of the delivery of public services a definitive set of proposals about the organisation of the local authority's role in relation to education services would be linked to the wider review.

 

The Executive Summary of the report was attached at Appendix A and the draft response to the consultation was attached at Appendix B to the report.

 

In considering the report Members noted the extent of the proposed changes and its potential consequences. It was also noted that a joint scrutiny meeting of the JES was due to take place shortly, although no real directions and leadership guidance had been provided to date.  The Chief Learning and Skills Officer stated that Councils within the Consortium would need to rely on the support of the organisation and that local authorities had invested considerably in its establishment.  Further strength, governance and leadership was required with the Authority being assured of the very best service for its schools. 

 

One of the observer members on the Committee commented that the Consortium had been hastily put together and that in theory it appeared to be a good way forward but in practice there seemed to be more problems than solutions. 

 

In conclusion the Chairman stated that he considered the Council's response to be a good response and that the Committee would look forward to receiving the minutes of the Joint Scrutiny Committee meeting in due course following which it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In recognising the response that had been forwarded to Welsh Government.

 

 

493     SCHOOL REORGANISATION PROPOSALS FOR WELSH MEDIUM PRIMARY SCHOOL PLACES IN BARRY: YSGOL GWAUN Y NANT AND OAKFIELD PRIMARY SCHOOL (REF) -

 

The Vice-Chairman took the Chair in view of the Chairman's Declaration of Interest.

 

It was noted that Cabinet had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration and also to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources).  The report outlined that approval had been sought to expand Ysgol Gwaun y Nant in order to provide sufficient Welsh Medium primary school places in Barry.  The Chief Learning and Skills Officer referred to the preferred timetable for the statutory process to expand Ysgol Gwaun y Nant which was detailed at Appendix B to the report.  A feasibility study had been carried out which had considered a range of options including the expansion of existing Welsh Medium schools in Barry and the construction of a new school to meet the increasing demand. 

 

Appendix A to the report identified the parental demand for Welsh Medium education in Barry continued to increase, there being 150 applications for September 2013 for the 150 reception places available and there were 158 children in nursery classes who it was anticipated would require a reception place in 2014 resulting in a shortfall of 8 places.  The local authority had a legal duty to meet parental demand for Welsh Medium education.

 

Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and Oakfield Primary School both occupied separate parts of a former two form entry (420 place) primary school.  The most favourable option was determined to be the construction of a new one form entry (210 place) building to accommodate Oakfield Primary on the existing site and the remodelling of the building occupied by Ysgol Gwaun y Nant and Oakfield Primary to enlarge Ysgol Gwaun y Nant to accommodate 420 children plus an enlarged nursery. 

 

The report outlined that the preferred option at this stage would significantly improve the teaching and learning environment for both schools by addressing the poor internal layout and providing two schools that met the educational needs of the 21st Century.

 

It was anticipated that building work would start on the new Oakfield Primary School building in November 2014 for completion by September 2015.  A consultation document for the process had to be provided to all interested parties allowing for a minimum of six weeks to respond and the consultation period had to include a minimum of 20 school days.  Meetings would be held during the consultation period to provide additional information as requested. 

 

In considering the report Members of the Scrutiny Committee considered that they required further information as to the justification for the proposals as in their view the report did not provide sufficient detail.  Reference was made to the School Surplus Places Review where surplus places had been identified as an issue and recommendations made. They considered that this information as well as detailed information regarding the criteria used for the proposals together with full details of the Welsh Medium projection figures should be provided for the Scrutiny Committee's consideration.  Members stated that in their view spending approximately £2.7m on the proposals without sufficient information being presented was not in the best interests of residents of the Vale.

 

It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T a further report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee before December 2013 regarding the methodology for the approach, detailed data and the justification for the decision.

 

(2)       T H A T the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) be also referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) for its meeting on 15th October, 2013.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

(1)       In order that Members can fully consider the implications for the proposals, it being noted that Cabinet had already approved that the consultation commence.

 

(2)       In order to inform the Scrutiny Committee of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) recommendation.

 

NB:  Councillors N.P Hodges, H.C. Hamilton and Mr. D. Treharne left the meeting prior to consideration of this item.

 

 

494      SCHOOL PERFORMANCE REPORT 2012/13 FOR END OF FOUNDATION PHASE, KEY STAGE 2 AND 3 AND THE NATIONAL READING AND NUMERACY TESTS (CLSO) -

 

The Head of School Improvement provided the Committee with an update on school performance and support for schools.  In presenting the report the Head of Service referred to the Appendices stating that Appendix 1 provided details of the local authority performance compared with all-Wales performance.  Appendices 2 and 3 detailed information in graph format with Appendices 4 - 7 providing details of data of schools either in the top 50% or in the bottom 50%.

 

It was noted that Estyn placed great emphasis on the need to ensure that at least 50% of schools across local authorities for each indicator within each phase was located in a high or highest bench-marking position or above the median. 

 

In referring to progress in the Foundation Phase standards at Outcome 5 for all PIs had continued to improve and the proportion of schools performing in the high or highest benchmarking quarters for all PIs had increased.  Standards for Outcome 6 for all PIs had continued to improve on the previous year with the exception of Welsh but the proportion of all schools benchmarked in the high to highest quarters had declined.  In order to secure greater improvement in these areas there was a need to increase the proportion of schools performing in the high or highest benchmarking quarters for Outcome 5 and particularly PSD, LLCE and FPOI and for Outcome 6 particularly at LLCW, LLCE, MD and PSD.

 

With regard to progress in Key Stage 2 standards had continued to improve at Level 4+ for English, Welsh, Science, CSI and RWM in combination and decreased slightly in Maths.  The proportion of schools at Level 4+ performing in the higher to highest benchmarking quarters had increased significantly for all PIs with the exception of Maths which had declined. 

 

Standards had increased at Level 5+ in Key Stage 2 for all PIs.  To secure greater improvement in standards in Key Stage 2 there was a need to increase the proportion of schools performing in the higher or highest benchmarking quarter particularly in Maths at Level 4+ and to increase the proportion of schools performing in the higher of highest benchmarking quarter at Level 5+ year on year.

 

In relation to progress in Kay Stage 3 standards had improved significantly at Level 5+ in all PIs. 

 

·                The LA rank positions for core subjects were all above the minimum expectation of 5th (using FSM as a proxy indicator). This was a significant improvement on the previous year 2012 and it would be important to ensure all secondary schools continued to improve.

·                The proportion of schools performing in the high or highest benchmarking quarters, at L5+, for all PIs has also improved significantly.

·                Standards had improved in K3 3 at L6+ in all PIs.

·                The proportion of schools, performing in the high or highest benchmarking quarters, at L6+ had improved for Maths and Science, stayed at the same high level for Welsh, but remained the same at 38% for English.

·                Standards at L7+ had improved for English, Welsh and Maths but remained the same for Science and the CSI.

·                The proportion of schools at L7+ performing in the high or highest benchmarking quarters, with the exception of Welsh had remained static.

 

The decline in standards in 2012 at Key Stage 3 had been recognised and reported in December 2012 and the Key Stage Improvement Strategy had been implemented and standards had risen in 2013.  However, there was a need to secure greater improvements at all levels.  This would be achieved by increasing the proportion of schools performing in the high or highest benchmarking quarters at Level 5+, Level 6+ and Level 7 for all PIs with the exception Welsh but particularly for English and Maths.  All secondary schools also needed to perform well above their Free School Meals predicted performance estimate, exceed Welsh Government Model estimates and the most challenging FFT estimates of predicted performance based on prior attainment.

 

The Head of Service stated that the need for ongoing additional support and challenge would be a crucial feature of the improvement work in identified secondary schools if standards were to continue to improve.

 

Appendix 5a and 5b provided an overview of the Reading and Numeracy test results for 2013. 

 

Members were also advised that in reading the proportion of pupils with a score of less that 85 was the second lowest in Wales whilst the proportion of pupils reading above 115 was the second highest in Wales.  In Maths the data revealed a similar picture.  The Vale was ranked second for proportion of pupils with a score less than 85 and greater than 115.

 

Reading in Welsh ranked the Vale in third position with the lowest proportion of pupils reading in Welsh below a score of 85 and ranked third for the proportion of pupils with a score greater than 115. 

 

The School Support Programme had been commissioned by the local authority from the Joint Education Service, details of which were attached at Appendix 6 to the report.  To secure future improvements the school support programme would need to be fully implemented and monitored closely.  The School Support Programme aimed to combine nationally delivered support programmes with a targeted approach for identified schools which was based on the Vale of Glamorgan's local authority performance profile.  A number of individual schools had been identified for targeted support and they had been contacted and were now in receipt of precise details of the project including the delivery model, interim evaluations and final impact evaluation processes.

 

Close monitoring of project roll out and the implementation would be undertaken by the local authority in conjunction with the JES. 

 

In considering the report it was suggested that further discussion in relation to Appendix 6 be brought to a future meeting of the Committee with particular regard to how the targets would be achieved.  Members also requested to receive details of a range of projects that had been commissioned as well as detailed information regarding the year groups that needed additional support in the reading and numeracy areas. 

 

The Head of Service stated she was keen to ensure transparency and accountability and the 2013 results had identified that the Council was moving in the right direction.  The Chief Learning and Skills Officer also advised that it would be important for the Committee to analyse the GCSE results at a future meeting.

 

Having fully considered the report it was

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the progress update be noted and that the further reports as detailed above be presented to the Scrutiny Committee.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In order for Members to scrutinise performance.

 

 

495     QUARTER 1 LEARNING AND SKILLS PERFORMANCE REPORT 2013/14 (CLSO) -

 

The performance results for Quarter 1 of 1st April to 30th June, 2013 were presented, it being noted that Service Plans for that period had been revised in accordance with proposals for improvement and had been designed to focus on the achievement of key objectives for each Directorate which would in turn contribute towards the achievement of identified outcomes. 

 

Overall, it was reported that Learning and Skills were well on track to achieve the objectives contributing to its service outcomes, with 94% of actions currently either completed or on track. Of the 50 corporate plan actions within the service plan, 48 were either completed or on track, 1 had not been started and 1 had not been updated. Of 11 actions relating to improvement objectives, 100% were either completed or on track for completion.

 

Of 27 performance indicators, 20 were new indicators so did not have a target set, 3 were within 10% of target, 3 had missed target by more than 10% and 1 had not been updated.

 

In terms of exceptional performance, rapid progress had been made to increase Key Stage 3 performance, particularly in relation to the Core Subject Indicator. Progress had been made with all 6 measures of Key Stage 3 performance and the rate of improvement on all six measures was above that of Wales. The Authority was now in the top 4 performing authorities in Wales at Key Stage 3 which provided a good basis for further improvement.

 

Teacher Assessments in the foundation phase and at Key Stage 2 also showed improvements and a detailed analysis of all Teacher Assessments and exam results would be reported to Members shortly.

 

In relation to slippage, the service reported that they had presented Cardiff University with a proposed programme of Welsh adult education courses for approval; however, only a limited number were approved [LS04/A042 (CP/LS13) (CP/LS9)].  A Welsh Medium course had now been added to the programme and informal learning opportunities would be available through projects, subject to funding.

 

The refurbishment of the library in Llantwit Major was subject to the availability of a Cymal grant, which the Council was due to apply for in February [LS09/A083].  This action was not due to be completed until April 2015.

A detailed report of the Directorate’s overall performance was provided at Appendix 1.

 

Members, in noting that the number of visits to libraries had decreased, were informed that a full review of the Library Service was currently being undertaken together with an extensive public consultation.  A report would be brought back to a future meeting of the Committee in due course

 

Members also requested to receive a report on the use of the on-line school admissions procedure which had recently been launched to a future meeting of the Committee.

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the performance results and remedial actions taken to address service underperformance be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the progress to date in achieving key outcomes as outlined in the Corporate Plan 2013-17 and the Improvement Plan Part 1 2013/14 be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1&2)  (i)         To ensure the Council is effectively assessing its performance in line with the requirement to secure continuous improvement outlined in the Local Government Measure (Wales) 2009.

 

(ii)        To consider the quarter 1 Learning and Skills performance results as at 30th June 2013 in order to identify service areas for improvement work.

 

(iii)       To meet the Auditor General, Wales' improvement proposal to ensure that:

·           intentions are expressed in a way which allows progress to be measured; and that

·           reporting arrangements consistently provide Members with an evaluation of performance in the context of the objectives the Council is aiming to achieve.

 

(iv)       To enable the Council to demonstrate achievement of its objectives and identified outcomes.

 

 

496     SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS (DR) -

 

The Appendices to the report provided Members with progress in relation to Scrutiny Committee recommendations for the financial year 2012/13, 1st Quarter - April to June 2013 and 2nd Quarter - July to September 2013.

 

It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the following progress be accepted and the recommendations confirmed as completed:

 

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 updates added to work programme, to be scheduled.

Completed

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.

Cabinet on 29th July 2013 accepted the report and requested a further report be presented to it as per recommendation (2).  (Min. No. C1421 refers)

Completed

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.

Cabinet on 29th July 2013 noted the report (Min. No. C1422 refers)

Completed

18 July 2013

Min. No. 272 - Minutes – Recommended

(2)       That Cabinet be informed of the above.

['Release of Part II Scrutiny Report: School Places Review' that the Part II restriction on the report be removed on 2nd January, 2014.]

Noted by Cabinet at its meeting on 29th July 2013 (Min. No. C1420 refers).

Completed

Min. No. 276 - Revenue and Capital Monitoring for the Period 1st April 2013 to 31st May 2013 (CLSO) – Recommended

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

Agreed by Cabinet at its meeting on 29th July 2013 (Min. No. C1425 refers).

Completed

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

Agreed by Cabinet at its meeting on 29th July 2013 (Min. No. C1425 refers).

Completed

9 September 2013

Min. No. 379 – Improvement Plan 2013/14 (MD) – Recommended

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

Added to work programme schedule.

 

Completed

(3)       That reports on attendance be submitted to the Committee on a termly basis.

Added to work programme schedule.

 

Completed

Min. No. 380 – Progress Report on the Development of a Youth Cabinet and Youth Mayor for the Vale of Glamorgan (CLSO) – Recommended

(1)       That 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.

Cabinet on 7th October 2013 resolved

 

(1)       That the recommendation of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) to appoint a Youth Mayor as a non-voting member of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) not be exceeded to.

 

(2)       That a further report be presented to a future Cabinet meeting on all implications of the development of a Youth Cabinet and Youth Mayor, including the role of the Scrutiny Committees, once the Youth Cabinet and Youth Mayor have been elected.

(Min. No. C2039 refers).

Completed

Min. No. 381 – Summary of School Inspection Reports for the Summer Term 2013 (CLSO) – Recommended

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

On agenda for 14th October 2013.

Completed

Min. No. 384 – Co Educational Secondary School Provision in Barry (REF) – Recommended

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

Added to work schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 386 – Scrutiny Committees’ Draft Annual Report – May 2012 to April 2013 and Scrutiny Committee Work Programme (MD) – Recommended

(1)       That 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.

Referred to Full Council 25th September 2013 meeting.

Completed

(2)       That 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.

Uploaded to website September 2013.

Completed

 

(2)       T H A T with regard to the recommendation 'that a schedule for individual schools progress meetings be submitted to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration' the report be presented to either the November or December meeting of the Scrutiny Committee.

 

(3)       T H A T dates be considered with the Individual School Progress Working Group for Llantwit Major Comprehensive School in order for a return visit to be made.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       That the recommendations are deemed completed as agreed by the Scrutiny Committee.

 

(2)       For Members' consideration.

 

(3)       In recognition that the Group agreed to return regarding the school’s progress.

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