Top

Top

SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 17th February, 2014.

 

Present:  Councillor N.P. Hodges (Chairman); Councillors Mrs. M.E.J. Birch, Ms. K. Edmunds, 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).

 

Non-voting Observer:  Ms. T. Young (Secondary Sector).

 

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

 

 

847     APOLOGIES –

 

These were received from Councillor Ms. R. Birch (Vice-Chairman) and Councillor A. Parker and Mr. D. Treharne (Co-Opted Non-voting Observer - Welsh Medium Education).

 

 

848     MINUTES –  

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 20th January, 2014 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

849     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –  

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

850     NATIONAL MODEL FOR REGIONAL WORKING (REF) –

 

Cabinet had referred the report to the Committee to inform Members of the publication of the National Model and the anticipated impact on school improvement services.  It was noted that the National Model introduced a number of changes to the current working arrangements in schools, the Central South Consortium Joint Education Services (JES) and the Learning and Skills Directorate.  The National Model described key principles of school improvement emphasising the importance of schools taking responsibility for their own improvement with schools that are positioned to do so having greater levels of autonomy.  In this context the Model proposed a national school categorisation system and referred to a consortia staffing model comprising a core staff of "challenge advisors" rather than "system leaders" and drawing on the skills of the best headteachers.  The scope of the consortia services was to be consistent across the four consortia.  In addition to the functions currently undertaken by the JES on work to align the 14-19 strategy for Governor training, advice and for specialist HR advice, dealing with performance and capability issues would transfer from the Council.  Other functions referred to in the Robert Hill report including SEN provision, education welfare services and business support services would remain with the Council. 

 

The Future Delivery of Education in Wales review undertaken by Robert Hill included key short term options to fund regional consortia directly by top slicing the Revenue Support Grant.  A copy of the National Model for Regional Working constructed by schools, local authorities, regional consortia and Welsh Government was also attached as an appendix to the report.  Local authorities would consider the progress of schools within their areas through their Member led scrutiny arrangements.  The Model therefore included no reference to joint scrutiny arrangements.  The work of each consortium would be overseen by a joint committee comprising the Leader of each constituent local authority or a nominated named deputy, supported by a lead Executive.  This would require changes to the current arrangements.  The Model also set out its expectations that each constituent local authority designate a lead officer to undertake the "intelligent client role" and point of contact with the consortium.

 

The consortium was also required to submit an annual business plan to Welsh Government and a draft business plan for 2014/15 had been considered by the current joint committee at its meeting in December.  The Model further stipulated that the Council’s Scrutiny Committee for children’s and education services would meet at least once a year to consider performance and progress in local schools.  Of note was the fact that the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) had itself instigated a meeting with representatives of the Consortia which had taken place in December 2013.  The Committee had also agreed that future meetings take place and that a programme for such be drawn up.  

 

With regard to resources the report further highlighted that larger financial contributions from all the local authorities within the consortium would be expected, with the intention that the functions be transferred by April 2015.  Accountability for the spend would rest with Leaders of the councils who would hold the consortium to account for how the money was spent.  The Rhondda Cynon Taff S151 Officer also had responsibility and accountability for the consortia and would work closely with the Managing Director.  The Consortium would also be accountable to the Wales Audit Office in relation to the use of public funds.

 

In response to a query as to when the consortium was likely to be inspected by Estyn, Members were advised by the Chief Learning and Skills Officer that Estyn would be carrying out a remit review and a survey in late 2014, with the intention that a review report was produced in Spring 2015.

 

During consideration of  the report reference was also made to the role of Governors in the performance process and the support and training that may be required.  The Chairman confirmed that he had requested that the Scrutiny Committee considers the role of Governors at a future meeting to include details of the level of training and support that would be required. 

 

Following consideration of the report it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

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

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet be advised that it was the intention of the Scrutiny Committee to consider the role of Governors and the training and level of support required at a future meeting.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In view of the contents of the report.

 

(2)       In recognising the increasing role of Governing Bodies.

 

 

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

 

The report provided the Committee with the position in respect of revenue and capital expenditure for the period 1st April to 31st December 2013.  In presenting 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.  A graph and table setting out the variance between the profiled budget and actual expenditure to date was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. 

 

With regard to the service area Strategy and Performance, it was predicted that the budget would outturn with an adverse variance of £18k which was due to an estimated overspend on further education transport of £90k and rates of £13k.  This had been offset by favourable variances on Education Finance of £31k, performance management of £10k and mainstream transport of £44k.

 

The Service Strategy and Regulation Service was predicted to outturn with a favourable variance of £18k and there was currently a £50k favourable variance against the profiled budget for Libraries due to staff vacancies. 

 

The Youth Service was reported as currently breaking even and there was a favourable variance of £20k against the profiled budget for Lifelong Learning due to a staff vacancy which had recently been filled. 

 

Under the Catering budget there was a £12k favourable variance against profiled budget due to slower than anticipated take up of free Breakfast Club provision. 

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st December 2013.

 

With regard to the redevelopment of All Saints Primary School, a request had been made to vire the remaining £5k balance from the Pendoylan School Remodelling scheme to fund the Council’s outstanding contribution to redevelopment works largely funded through Welsh Government grant.  The Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) would be considering this virement and recommending to Cabinet / Council accordingly. 

 

During consideration of the report a Member raised the issue of favourable variances and the way the Council currently operated its budgets.  The Member stated they  would also be raising the same at the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources).  Although aware of the Council’s current accounting procedure, the Member suggested that the use of favourable variances should be reconsidered with the view to the possibility of utilising such funds in other service areas where necessary.

 

Having considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the revenue and capital monitoring for the period 1st April 2013 to 31st December 2013 be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having regard to the contents of the report.

 

           

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

 

The report provided Committee with an update on the progress on the development of the Youth Cabinet and Youth Mayor and the involvement of young people and Vale Youth Forum Members and Trustees in the process to date.

 

To date the report advised that the Vale of Glamorgan Council Youth Service had been working in tandem with the Vale Youth Forum (VYF) to recruit new members and inject new energy into the VYF.  Since September 2013, 55 new members had therefore been recruited.  The young people came from all areas of the Vale, via schools’ youth groups and also as self-referrals. 

 

In September 2013 work began to create an election pack for distribution to as many youth provisions across the Vale as possible, including statutory and voluntary provisions.  A member of the Vale of Glamorgan Youth Service or a colleague from a partner organisation went through the details of the pack and delivered a presentation to engage young people and highlight the development of the Youth Cabinet and Youth Mayor. 

 

To date the VYF were working to an election deadline of 24th March 2014 and in the run up to that date the VYF members would receive training on raising awareness of learning difficulties / autism, Code of Conduct / Map of the Vale / Pros and cons, what it means to be a representative, a session the Youth Cabinet and Youth Mayor and everyone’s future-intergenerational work.  

 

The report proposed that the Vale Youth Cabinet would meet regularly with Council officers, Councillors and Cabinet Members of the Vale of Glamorgan Council to put forward young people’s issues.  These issues would be identified by the VYF which would have information from parent organisations.  It was also proposed that the Youth Mayor position be nominated from the VYF with the Youth Mayor initially serving for one year and having a Deputy Youth Mayor in place for the same term of office.  The report also noted that young people proposed that the main communication method within the VYF should be via social media platforms. 

 

The lead officer for youth and community learning who was present at the meeting further informed the Committee that representatives of the VYF would also be meeting with the Council’s Cabinet Portfolio Members and that with regard to resourcing initiatives, officers were currently working with the voluntary sector.

 

The Chairman stated that he was pleased to note the progress that was being made with the intention that the Scrutiny Committee itself consider appointing a youth representative to sit on the Scrutiny Committee in a non-voting capacity.  The Chairman also took the opportunity to congratulate the Youth Service for the work undertaken in increasing representation on the Vale Youth Forum from 7 to 55 members, following which it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Committee note the progress to date in the establishment of a constituted Youth Cabinet and the development of an election process for a Youth Mayor position.

 

(2)       T H A T a further report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee on the way forward for a member/s of the Vale Youth Forum to be represented on the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) and that Cabinet be informed of this intention.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       The establishment of a Youth Cabinet and Youth Mayor will provide a voice for young people in the Vale by which their views and ideas can be considered in Council decision making.

 

(2)       In order that a representative for young people in the Vale can be considered to be appointed to attend Scrutiny Committee meetings.

 

 

853     INDIVIDUAL SCHOOLS PROGRESS MEETINGS (CLSO) –

 

The Committee was provided with an update on the progress meeting at St. Cyres Comprehensive School that had been undertaken by a Panel of three Members of the Scrutiny Committee.  The Chairman presented the report by advising that following the establishment of School Progress Panels a number of meetings had been held which would be reported to the Scrutiny Committee as appropriate.

 

The current report provided an update on the relevant issues and options in relation to the School Progress Panel meeting that had taken place at St. Cyres Comprehensive School.  Following the GCSE results in 2013 concerns had been raised in relation to improvements for the future and minimum targets had been agreed between the school and Vale of Glamorgan Council officers.  The purpose of the Panel meeting had been to establish that there were up to date and authoritative plans in place to address the concerns, to establish that the school had arrangements in place to monitor the impact of the plans, to amend them as appropriate, to establish what progress had been made and what further progress was required.

 

The Estyn Report of the school had judged standards to be adequate but on two key measures the school had fallen since the inspection. 

 

At the Scrutiny Progress Panel  meeting Members were informed of the progress that had been made to date in relation to the Post Inspection Action Plan ( PIAP) and in particular that the Callio Model for school attendance was being used to assist with increasing pupil attendance.  The School's PIAP referred to 6 objectives as detailed below:

 

·         Objective 1 - To raise standards and improve performance to all key stages in line with the mean of similar schools

·         Objective 2 - To improve pupils attendance so that it meets the mean of the Family of Schools and is in the top half of schools with similar FSM entitlement i.e. to improve the school attendance to 94%.

·         Objective 3 - To ensure that there is consistent and systematic whole school approach to the improvement of pupils literacy and numerous skills

·         Objective 4 - To improve the quality of teaching and assessment

·         Objective 5 - To strengthen leadership at all levels to provide more rigour and challenge to secure improvements in standards and quality teaching

·         Objective 6 - To improve the rigour of self-evaluation and improvement planning particularly in analysing data.

 

The Headteacher was afforded the opportunity to provide a presentation to the Panel with specific reference to progress in relation to the above objectives.  In referring to non-attendance in schools the Chairman advised that the Scrutiny Committee would be looking to debate the subject at a future Scrutiny meeting with a view to making recommendations to the Council's Cabinet.  The Headteacher advised that he operated a zero tolerance approach for attendance which Members were aware was also operating in another school within the Vale.

 

Members noted that attendance had been taken seriously by the school with many initiatives being used to address non-attendance including the use of text messaging as a tool.  The school also operated a reward system, where following the donation of a number of portable IT tablets, pupils had been praised for their attendance together with a prize draw taking place during the school year where the pupil with the highest attendance could receive a pc tablet. Raising the profile within the school had also been evident with Members referring to the use of banners and graphical information to apprise pupils, parents and visitors throughout the school of its importance.

 

In order to monitor and track pupil progress in the curriculum it was noted that there was currently no pan-Wales or Central South Consortium tracking system in place and that schools developed their own systems. The Headteacher provided the Panel with details of the current tracking system used at St. Cyres which was, namely, the Pixl initiative.

 

The Chairman stated that the Panel had also been informed that short term actions had already been identified at the school in order to address the performance improvement situation together with a number of initiatives as contained within the report. 

 

Following the meeting the Panel had subsequently recommended that a Governor Task Group be established to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Post Inspection Action Plan (PIAP) and to liaise with Heads of Faculty on initiatives for further improvement on Objective (1) this to be co-ordinated and managed by a named Deputy Headteacher.  Although the Panel was pleased with the progress in relation to pupil attendance they stated that the system should continue to be monitored and tested.  The Panel also acknowledged that work on Objective 3 was at an early stage with more work being required.  In relation to Objective 4 the quality of teaching assessments deemed good or better showed a marked improvement, however, the Panel have also requested to receive evidence of external moderation.

 

In noting that the school was at an early stage of implementation of its PIAP, notwithstanding all the information presented and the discussions at the meeting, the Panel have also requested to receive regular updates on progress from the System Leader and Head of School Improvement and Inclusion.

 

The Panel’s overall conclusion was that it had a measure of confidence at this stage in the process that the PIAP would be implemented and the agreed minimum expectations would be met. However, the Panel would be monitoring progress through officers as indicated above and had advised that a planned future return meeting to the school would take place in the Autumn following the examination results.

 

The Head of School of Improvement and Inclusion advised the Scrutiny Committee that it was important to reiterate that she had a measure of confidence with regard to performance and the forthcoming examination results and that the school’s progress would be kept under close scrutiny.  A full review of progress against the minimum expectations and implementation of the PIAP was key, as would be the work of the Governor Task Group, which would be monitored by officers from the Authority.  The school had engaged in the challenge process and had expressed the willingness to engage.  The process had also heightened accountability, but it was important to also note that actual evidence of improvements would be identified when the results were announced in August 2014. 

 

In noting that the school was one of three schools that had received a formal warning letter from the Chief Learning and Skills Officer, and that there had been much focus on the August results, Members and officers had welcomed the level of seriousness the Headteacher and staff had given to the improvement agenda. 

 

In conclusion the Chairman advised that he would recommend that all schools engaged a Committee of Governors from their Governing Body to monitor / address performance to drive up standards.  Reference was then made to the current good work being undertaken at the Llantwit Major Comprehensive School with reports of the Governor Performance Group being reported back to the Governing Body.  The Chairman also referred to the opportunity to encourage good practice to be shared, and stressed the need for Scrutiny Committee Members to also visit schools with excellent practice, following which it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Scrutiny Panel findings as detailed in paragraphs 18 to 21 of the report be accepted.

 

(2)       T H A T further reports, if appropriate, following the progress updates of the System Leader and Head of School Improvement and Inclusion be presented to the Scrutiny Committee.

 

(3)       T H A T further reports be presented to Scrutiny Committee following the Panel’s revisit to the school in Autumn 2014.

 

(4)       T H A T this report and the views of the Scrutiny Committee be referred to Cabinet for consideration and approval.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To apprise Committee of the findings of the Scrutiny Panel.

 

(2)       In recognition of the Scrutiny Panel’s intention to monitor.

 

(3)       To monitor and follow up the recommendations of the Scrutiny Panel.

 

(4)       For Cabinet consideration.

 

 

Share on facebook Like us on Facebook