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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 12th January, 2015.

 

Present:  Councillor N.P. Hodges (Chairman); Councillor Ms. R. Birch (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Mrs. M.E.J. Birch, Mrs. C.L. Curtis, Ms. K.E. 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 Dr. C. Brown (Parent Governor – Secondary Sector).

 

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

 

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

 

 

780     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE – 

 

These were received from Mr. L. Kellaway (Co- opted Member Parent Governor – Primary Sector), Mr. G. Beaudette (Non-Voting Observer – Primary Sector), and Mr. D. Treharne (Non- Voting Observer - Welsh Medium Education).

 

 

 781       CHAIRMAN’S ANNOUNCEMENT –

 

Following the announcement by the Chairman the Committee entered into a minute’s silence in memory of the late Councillor Keith Geary.

 

 

782     MINUTES – 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 8th December, 2014 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

783     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST – 

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

784     CORPORATE SAFEGUARDING (REF) –

 

The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools, in presenting the report, advised of the progress on the work that had been undertaken to improve corporate arrangements for safeguarding and protecting children and adults which required specific Council services.  The report had also been referred to the Scrutiny Committees (Corporate Resources) and (Social Care and Health) for their information.

 

The Committee was further informed that the Corporate Safeguarding Group continued to monitor the safeguarding arrangements within the Local Authority, including recruitment within the Council and schools.  Monitoring of the Safer Recruitment Policy in respect of new and existing employees was also undertaken by Transact and Human Resources (HR) on a scheduled basis and by Internal Audit as part of their ongoing audit programme. 

 

Further to this, following a request by Members at the time, HR had conducted a further audit of new appointments to the Council and schools during the period March and June 2014, the focus of the audit being to identify any areas of non-compliance with the Safer Recruitment Policy and to implement any measures to improve consistent application.  The audit showed that overall 18.6% of posts subject to the Safer Recruitment Policy had started work where documentation remained outstanding.  This represented an average of 6.5 employees per month, compared to 6.3 per month as reported in the previous audit report.  Over half of the posts had a signed risk assessment form in place prior to the employee starting employment as required under the Policy, all outstanding documents had now been received.  The audit had also identified an average of five new starters a month in schools with documentation still outstanding on commencement of employment over the four month period, which was an improvement on the previous audit report where an average of six employees per month had started work with documentation outstanding over the three month period.

 

The report before Committee further outlined that Social Services appointments had been administered in full compliance of the Policy requirements and the Catering Manager had confirmed that that team had implemented measures to achieve full compliance with the Policy requirements.  With regard to schools, Headteachers had received a presentation on the Policy and had been reminded both in writing and verbally at the last Headteacher conference to complete a risk assessment, where it was essential for the employee to start work but where checks remained outstanding. 

 

In response to a request from the Headteacher Steering Group, a simple but comprehensive check list had also been produced to assist Headteachers / recruiting managers in schools to maintain compliance with the Policy.  A guidance document had also been drafted by HR which would be issued to all new employees within schools to remind them of their obligations and the actions they needed to take to meet the Safer Recruitment Policy requirements. 

 

Members were assured that in addition to the above, Council procedures had been reviewed and formalised and a new procedure had been implemented to ensure that the Transact section advised HR and the Directorate of Lifelong Learning and Skills on a weekly basis of any non-compliance with the Safer Recruitment Policy.  The report also outlined that the changes that had been made to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) arrangements had made necessary the proposed changes to the Safer Recruitment Policy as outlined in paragraphs 19 to 22 of the report.  It was noted that an internal consultation process in respect of the revised DBS Policy and supporting guidance was nearing completion, which would be referred to Cabinet for determination in due course. 

 

Following a Member’s query regarding whether officers were satisfied that the correct procedures were now in place, it was noted that the Safeguarding Officer was checking the implementation of policies and adherence to them during visits to schools to provide assistance and advice about each school’s Safeguarding Self Evaluation Review (SER).  The Operational Manager for Human Resources advised that all relevant information was currently being shared with the Headteacher.

 

In noting that a considerable amount of the information was being collated through the Transact section and the systems contained therein, in recognition of the fact that  some schools did not use the system Members’ concerns were raised as to how information from those schools would be obtained.  The Operational Manager advised that the Council relied on the internal audit system in such instances, which also considered volunteers and contractors that worked directly with schools. 

 

During consideration of the report, a Member queried whether all Elected Members who were Governors should be regularly DBS checked and suggested that this be recommended by the Scrutiny Committee.  The Operational Manager for Human Resources stated that some time previously all Elected Members of the Council had been afforded the opportunity of undertaking a CRB check. However, following recent advice and guidance, the Authority had now been informed that there was no requirement for all Elected Members to undergo such a check and it had therefore been agreed that applications should only be made for those working within roles or responsibilities which met the DBS eligibility criteria.  For those Elected Members who held safeguarding responsibilities in their capacity of a school governor and those Governors who by virtue of their roles / responsibilities and unsupervised access to children may trigger DBS eligibility and in such circumstances they would require an enhanced DBS check.

 

Another Member of the Committee who was also a Governor of a local school, advised that advice received from their Headteacher was that as there would be no circumstances where they would be visiting the school in an unsupervised capacity, there would be no requirement for a DBS check to be made.  However, a Member advised that he had, on behalf of another Local Authority, on a number of occasions, regularly escorted children on various trips and transported them to events without a DBS check having taken place, which had raised his concern.

 

At this point, reference was also made to the significant Governor training that was offered by the Council with all Members who were Governors being urged to attend the training available in particular any mandatory training.  Members were further advised that the Directorate had a dedicated Safeguarding Officer whose responsibilities included supporting the Directorate and schools to maintain and enhance robust safeguarding practices.

 

Having considered the report in detail, and having subsequently agreed that in view of the advice provided at the meeting and Members acceptance of the arrangements currently in place it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the reference and the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having regard to the information contained therein and the advice provided at the meeting.

 

 

785     CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE SERVICES – COMMISSIONING STRATEGY AND ACTION PLAN 2013-2018 (REF) –

 

Cabinet, at its meeting on 15th December 2014, had been informed of the progress made in implementing the Children and Young People Services Commissioning Strategy and Action Plan 2013-18 and had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee for information. 

 

The draft Children and Young People Services Commissioning Strategy and Action Plan that had been considered by Cabinet on 4th March 2013 was attached to the report at Appendix 1.  At that time, both the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) and Cabinet had endorsed the objectives and principles and asked for regular progress updates on delivery of the Action Plan.  To ensure that the Strategy had been implemented effectively, work that had been undertaken had focused on the following key areas:

  • Preventing children and young people becoming looked after unless this was necessary to safeguard their welfare
  • Enabling those who did come into care to be rehabilitated back to their family network where it was safe to do so
  • Providing the best possible outcomes for those who remained accommodated and
  • Increasing the range of placements options available for Looked After Children.

The updated Action Plan attached at Appendix 1 at pages 38 to 46 confirmed the good progress that had been made in the first 18 months of the Strategy.  Many of the actions had been completed, others were reported as ongoing and the longer term measures were reported as on track and on time. 

The Cabinet Member took the opportunity to congratulate officers on the progress that had been made to date and reassured the Scrutiny Committee that the department was continuing to move forward.

 

The Chairman, in response, stated that it was a good report and that good progress had indeed been made, following which it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the report be accepted and the Committee’s congratulations be extended to the officers on the good progress to date.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In recognition of the work undertaken to date.

 

 

786     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 30TH NOVEMBER 2014 (DLS) –

 

The Principal Accountant, in presenting the report, advised that the delegated budget relating to Schools was expected to balance as any under or overspend was to be carried forward by schools.  The overall Central Education budget he stated was anticipated to underspend by £327k with the proposal that any underspends be directed into the Schools Rationalisation Reserve to use towards the costs of the 21st Century Schools Investment Programme. However, part of it possibly could be called upon before the end of the financial year to fund one off urgent health and safety works in schools and a potential increase in rates at the new Penarth Learning Community Schools. 

 

The School Improvement and Inclusion service was also anticipated to underspend by £31k, which was reported as a result of a favourable variance on Additional Learning Needs staffing and resources of £81k, to be offset by an adverse variance on the internal respite provision of £50k.  For Service Strategy and Regulation, this was anticipated to outturn at a favourable variance of £13k due to efficiencies within the Business Support section.  The Strategic and Resources budget was anticipated to underspend by £283k due to favourable variances on staffing of £77k as a result of part year vacancies and long term sickness and a £47k underspend on non-delegated schools expenditure and a £36k underspend on independent nursery placements.  However, this would be offset by an overspend on Special Educational Needs transport of £20k and an underspend of £143k on mainstream school transport.

 

The Education Department was projecting to transfer £145k to reserves as part of the Voluntary Early Retirement and Redundancy scheme and, in addition, a transfer of £196k would be taken from the Schools’ Long Term Sickness reserve to fund the current year deficit on the scheme. For Libraries, the service was projecting a favourable variance of £78k due to staff vacancies. 

 

It was also reported that the Adult Community Education service would outturn at revised budget after transferring £62k from reserves to assist with funding reductions from Welsh Government and Cardiff and Vale College, the delay in implementing the restructure of the service and redundancy costs relating to the new structure.  There was currently an adverse variance on Adult Community Learning of £21k, it being noted that it was early in the academic year and there were many more courses planned for the new year. 

 

For Catering, the section was anticipated to outturn on target after using the favourable breakfast club variance of £81k to fund capital repayments for the new cashless catering system. 

 

In referring to the Youth Service, Members were informed that the service would outturn on target after transferring £114k from the Youth Service reserve to cover the Area 41 dilapidation costs, West House surrender payment and the Youth Engagement and Progression Framework in schools.  In referring to the Youth Service, Members queried the significant figure of £114k being transferred from the reserve and, in particular, queried the actual budget reserve that was available.  The Principal Accountant advised that the reserve had been built up over a number of years, with Members requesting details of this to be provided via e-mail, with certain sums being set aside for the Area 41 project. 

 

In response to a further query relating to the reallocation of underspends, the Director of Learning and Skills advised that the Council’s policy was to address the underspends in two ways – to transfer funding to the School Rationalisation Reserve and to contribute to the Library Reserve requirements.  It was agreed that the information contained within the report should be further clarified and officers were requested to provide further detail within the revenue and capital monitoring reports to future meetings.

 

In referring to the Penarth Learning Community, Members queried the completion date for the demolition of the schools and were advised that the department was working towards completion by September 2015.  Cabinet had also recently agreed a further sum to be allocated regarding the demolition as a result of asbestos that had been found in the buildings and would require removal. 

 

Discussion then took place in respect of the sports facilities that were available at the premises with Members querying the resources available for pupils.  The Cabinet Member advised that there was a similar size space available at the school, but that currently the school was using other facilities until the demolition had taken place with it being noted that Stanwell Comprehensive School had offered the use of some of their facilities. 

 

The Chairman took the opportunity to remind Members of the intention to hold the Committee meeting of 16th March 2015 at St. Cyres School (Penarth Learning Community) and that a tour of the school would take place at 5.00p.m. prior to the meeting.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the 2014/15 revenue and capital monitoring be noted and that details of the Youth Service Reserve figure be forwarded to Members via e-mail as soon as practicable.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In acknowledgement of the information provided at the meeting and the contents contained within the report.

 

 

787     LOCAL AUTHORITY EDUCATION SERVICES FOR CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE INSPECTION REPORT: SECOND PROGRESS REPORT (REF) –

 

The inspection of Local Authority Education Services for Children and Young People had taken place between 20th and 24th May, 2013, the report had been published on 17th September 2013 with the Inspector’s overall judgement being  adequate†with the Council’s capacity to improve also judged to be “adequateâ€.  The report had also included the following six recommendations:

  • R1       Raise standards in schools, particularly in key stage 2 and key stage 3.
  • R2       Improve the rigour and the level of challenge provided to schools about   their performance and quality of leadership.
  • R3       Use the full powers available to the authority to improve schools that were underperforming.
  • R4       Make sure that planning for improvement was thorough and consistent throughout all services.
  • R5       Ensure that robust systems were in place for evaluating the outcomes of initiatives and that they demonstrated good value-for-money.
  • R6       Strengthen arrangements for monitoring and evaluating the wellbeing of children and young people.

Cabinet had approved the action plan on 18th November 2013, with it being noted that Post Inspection Action Plan (PIAP) progress reports would be presented to the Corporate Management Team (CMT) and Cabinet in May and November annually and to the Learning and Skills and Children and Young Peoples’ Partnerships.  Estyn, on 23rd December 2013, had confirmed that the PIAP generally addressed well the recommendations and areas for improvement in the inspection report.  The first progress report had been considered at the Cabinet meeting on 12th May 2014, and noted that work was on schedule in relation to the implementation of the plan.  At that time, however, it had been too early to assess the impact of most of the actions which would become an increasing priority in subsequent progress reports.  Cabinet had, at that time noted that managers had also participated in training to support the rigorous and systematic monitoring and evaluation of outcomes. 

 

The first monitoring visit by Estyn had taken place on 13th to 15th October 2014 to assess progress in response to recommendations (1) and (6).  The Cabinet Member confirmed that following the recent Estyn monitoring visit held in October 2014, the Council had received a good progress judgement as reported by the Estyn Inspector at the Committee’s previous meeting and that he was also pleased that Estyn had confirmed that the Spring monitoring visit had been cancelled as a result of the good progress being achieved.  The Cabinet Member advised that although there was more to do, it was encouraging to see the impact of the actions to date, with it being hoped that no further monitoring would be required following the visit in November 2015. 

 

It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Local Authority Education Services for Children and Young People Inspection Report: Second Progress Report be accepted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In recognition of the progress made to date and in noting the further progress required.

 

 

788     SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND WORK PROGRAMME SCHEDULE 2014/15 (DR) –

 

Appendices A, B and C attached to the report set out the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee over the municipal year April 2013 to March 2014, for the second quarter July to September 2014 and third quarter October to December 2014.  Members were requested to review the progress against each recommendation to assess whether further action was required, ensure the required action was undertaken and to confirm which recommendations were to be agreed as completed.  The Committee’s work programme schedule for 2014/15 was also attached at Appendix D to the report.

 

Members were updated on progress in relation to the status of a number of the ongoing recommendations and the items to be reported to the Scrutiny Committee over the forthcoming months.  The Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer advised that the Council’s calendar of meetings for the year 2015/16 was currently in the process of being drafted for Cabinet approval and Members would be informed of the detail in due course.

 

With regard to the reference in the document to individual schools’ progress meetings, Committee was advised that visits had been confirmed for three schools. Following a query from a Member, it was agreed that the dates and times of the visits would be e-mailed to all Members of the Committee for their information.

 

Following consideration of the report it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

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

 

17 March 2014

Min. No. 967 – Individual Schools’ Progress Meetings (CLSO) – Recommended

(2)   That it be noted that the Panel had requested details of the March examination results in order to continue to monitor progress.

 

 

 

Report presented to Committee on 10th November 2014.

Completed

08 September 2014

Min. No. 355 – Revenue and Capital Monitoring for the Period 1st April to 31st July 2014 (DLS) – Recommended

(1)   That a future meeting of the Scrutiny Committee be held at Ysgol Nant Talwg at an appropriate time.

 

 

 

Meeting held at School on 10th November 2014.

Completed

22 September 2014

Min. No. 419 – Individual School Progress Meeting – Eagleswell (DLS) – Recommended

(2)   That a follow up visit to the school by the Panel Members be arranged as soon as possible.

 

 

 

 

 

 

(4)   That the Director of Learning and Skills devises a schedule for Individual School Progress Panel Members to revisit Llantwit Major, St. Cyres, Barry Comprehensive and Bryn Hafren.

(5)   That the information in relation to the GCSE results for 2013/14 for the Vale of Glamorgan be presented as soon as possible.

  

 

(2)   Visit arranged for 16 December 2014.

 

Visit was cancelled, new date to be confirmed.  Revisits arranged for Bryn Hafren Comprehensive on 21st January 2015 and Barry Comprehensive on 10th February 2015.

Completed

 

 

(4)   Report presented to 10th November 2014 meeting for consideration.

Committee agreed no revisit to Llantwit Major and St. Cyres required.

Completed

(5)   Report presented to 10th November 2014 meeting for consideration.

Completed

13 October 2014

Min. No. 515 – Improvement Plan Part 2: Annual Review of Performance 2013/14 (REF) – Recommended

(2)   That Cabinet and Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) be informed that the Scrutiny Committee would, as identified in its work programme, continue to monitor the provision of NEETS but would request that Cabinet give consideration to further resources being provided to support work in schools as outlined above.

 

 

 

Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources), at its meeting on 9th December 2014, noted that

the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) would continue to monitor the provision of NEETS and further noted the request to Cabinet regarding consideration of future resources for the service.

(Min. No. 678 refers)

Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 516 – School Performance Report 2013/14 for End of Foundation Phase, Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3 and an Overview of the Literacy and Numeracy Assessments (REF) – Recommended

(2)   That the date for a return visit to Eagleswell Primary School by the Individual School Progress Panel be agreed. 

(3)   That the individual school data, as outlined above, once analysed be reported to the Scrutiny Committee in due course.

{FSM performance gap analysis]

 

 

  

 

 

(2)   Visit arranged for 16th December 2014.

Completed

 

(3)   Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 518 – Summary of School Inspection Reports for the Summer Term 2014 (DLS) – Recommended 

(1)   That letters of congratulations be sent to Wick and Marcross and Barry Island Primary Schools in respect of their inspection reports, by the Chairman, on behalf of the Committee.

(2)   That the Scrutiny Committee considers developing an opportunity to meet with representatives from Barry Island School to not only congratulate them on their success but to highlight good practice in performance.

(3)   That Cabinet be informed of the overall judgements for the three schools following the inspections and advised that the Scrutiny Committee would continue to ensure ways of developing good practice throughout schools in the Vale of Glamorgan are considered and encouraged.

 

 

 

(1)   Letters sent to Headteachers on 4th November 2014.

Completed

 

(2)   To be considered in the future and added to work programme schedule.

Completed

  

 

(3)   Cabinet, on 17th November 2014, noted the contents of the report and that Barry Island Primary School be congratulated as the first school in the Vale of Glamorgan to receive and achieve the overall judgement of excellent for current performance and excellent for prospects for improvement, following the recent Estyn Inspection.

(Min. No. C2524 refers) 

Completed

Min. No. 520 – Scrutiny Decision Tracking of Recommendations and Work Programme Schedule 2014/15 (DR) – Recommended

(2)   That the Work Programme Schedule attached at Appendix D to the report, be amended to include the reports as agreed at the meeting and be uploaded to the Council’s website.

 

 

Work programme amended and uploaded to the Council’s website on 6th November 2014.

Completed

10 November 2014

 

Min. No. 588 – Presentation: Central South Consortium – Recommended

(2)   That Cabinet be forwarded the comments made at the meeting for their consideration.

 

 

Cabinet, on 15th December 2014, noted the contents of the report and resolved

[2]   That the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) be thanked for their vigilance and that the Director of Learning and Skills and Senior Management, along with the Cabinet Members from the 5 Authorities responsible would ensure continued robust scrutiny of the work of the Consortium took place.

(Min. No. C2576 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 589 – School Performance Report for the End of Key Stages 4 and 5 (REF) – Recommended

(1)   That the resolutions of Cabinet be endorsed and Individual School Progress Panel meetings be arranged for Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools.

(2)   That letters of congratulation be sent to Llantwit Major and St. Cyres Comprehensive Schools in respect of the improvements made in 2014.

(3)   That letters of congratulation be sent to Cowbridge and Stanwell Comprehensive Schools in recognition of their performance which was amongst the highest in Wales at Level 2+.

 

 

 

(1)   Arranged for 21st January at Bryn Hafren and 10th February 2015 for Barry Comprehensive School.

Completed

(2)   Letters sent 20th November 2014.

Completed

 

 

(3)   Letters sent 20th November 2014.

Completed

08 December 2014

Min. No. 668 – Estyn Monitoring Visit Letter and Overview – Recommended

(2)   That the Estyn monitoring report, letter and the Committee’s comments be forwarded to Cabinet for consideration.

 

 

Information provided by Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer  at the meeting:

Cabinet, on 12th January 2015, noted the report, letter and the Committee’s comments.

(Min. No. C2593 refers) 

Completed

Min. No. 672 – Welsh Public Library Standards Assessment 2013/14 (DLS) – Recommended

(2)   That the performance of the Library and Information Service in relation to the Welsh Public Library Standards Framework be noted and the report referred to Cabinet for consideration.

 

 

 

Information provided by Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer  at the meeting:

Cabinet, on 12th January 2015, noted the contents of the report.

(Min. No. C2594 refers)

Completed

 

(2)       T H A T the proposed meeting work programme schedule 2014/15 at Appendix D be agreed and uploaded to the Council’s website as soon as practicable.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       Following consideration of the progress to date.

 

(2)       In order that the work programme schedule can be approved for uploading to the Council’s website.

 

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