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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING)

 

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 20th July, 2015.

 

Present:  Councillor N.P. Hodges (Chairman); Councillor R.A. Penrose (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Mrs. R.M. Birch, Mrs C.L. Curtis, C.P. Franks, T.H. Jarvie, A. Parker, Mrs. A.J. Preston and Ms. R.F. Probert.

 

 

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

 

Non-Voting Observer: Ms T. Young (Secondary) and Mr. D.Treharne (Welsh Medium Education)

 

Also present:  Councillor C.P.J. Elmore (Cabinet Member – Children’s Services and Schools).

 

 

258     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Councillor Mrs. M.E.J Birch.

 

 

259     MINUTES – 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 22nd June, 2015 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

260     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST – 

 

It was noted that Councillors who were school governors representing the Local Authority and Members of the Committee were able to speak and vote on agenda items.

 

 

261     CLOSURE OF ACCOUNTS 2014/15 (DLS) –

 

The purpose of the report was to inform the Scrutiny Committee of the provisional financial position for the Directorate for the 2014/15 financial year.  Included in the report was a table as set out below which compared the amended budget and the actual expenditure for the Authority:

 

Service

 

Year - 2014/15

Amended   Revenue Budget

Total   Provisional Actual

Variance   +Favourable  () Adverse

 

       £’000

          £’000

             £’000

Learning and Skills

 

 

 

Education   and Schools

93,026

93,036

(10)

Libraries

2,567

2,560

+7

Adult   Community Learning

254

252

+2

Youth   Services

1,076

1,063

+13

Catering

1,792

1,772

+20

TOTAL

98,715

98,683

+32

 

 

The main reasons for the variances were set out in paragraphs 7 to 16 of the report, with it being noted that the following service areas had shown a favourable variance:

 

  • School Improvement and Inclusion – favourable variance of £43,000;
  • Strategy and Resources – favourable variance of £275,000;
  • Service Strategy and Regulation – favourable variance of £17,000;
  • Children’s and Young People’s Partnership – favourable variance of £120,000;
  • Libraries – favourable variance of £7,000;
  • Adult Community Learning – favourable variance of £2,000;
  • Youth Service – favourable variance of £13,000;
  • Catering – favourable variance of £20,000.

 

The favourable variance of £455,000 had been offset by a transfer to the Libraries reserve of £255,000 and a transfer to the Schools Rationalisation reserve of £210,000. 

 

The report also highlighted that within Education and Schools there was an adverse variance of £10,000. 

 

In terms of Education transfers to and from reserves, there was a net transfer of £152,000 to the Schools Early Retirement and Voluntary Redundancy reserve in respect of repayments form schools from previous retirements, a transfer of £58,000 to the Schools Investment Strategy reserve in respect of capital charges to other Local Authorities for pupils at Ysgol Y Deri and a net transfer of £408,000 from the Schools Long Term Supply reserve in respect of the 2014/15 deficit on the long term supply scheme.

 

The overall outturn for the Directorate of Learning and Skills in relation to capital was a variance of £1.456m and detailed in Appendix 2 were the major variances referred to as outlined below.

 

  • Penarth Learning Community – slippage of £535,000.  Asbestos in the old St. Cyres Comprehensive School building had resulted in delays to the planned programme, therefore an amount of £535,000 had been carried forward into 2015/16.
  • Overboarding Ceilings – expenditure brought forward of £139,000.  This emergency works to schools had been undertaken as a matter of priority and as a result, the budget for 2014/15 had been exceeded by £204,000.  This had been offset by an underspend on the Victorian Schools scheme of £65,000.  There was a budget to continue these works in 2015/16 and therefore there was no overall effect on the total scheme funding, as it had been requested that the 2015/16 Victorian School budget be reduced by £139,000 and the funding was brought forward into 2014/15 to cover these costs.
  • Romilly / Llanfair Demountables – slippage of £351,000.  Both of these buildings were late additions to the 2014/15 Capital Programme.  This presented a number of challenges during the planning, tendering and construction phases.  Factors contributing to a delay in expenditure included a need for a negotiated tender process for superstructure works, restrictions on site, close proximity of high pressure gas and electrical mains and ground conditions.  It has therefore been requested that £351,000 be carried forward into 2015/16 in order to complete the scheme.
  • Evenlode New School Hall – slippage of £178,000.  This project was to be funded by receipts from the sale of land and issues were encountered during this process.  The resulting funding gap had been bridged by the allocation of £100,000 from the 2015/16 capital loan scheme. 
  • Cashless Catering and Management Information System – favourable variance of £146,000.  Initial project delays had resulted in a delayed roll out throughout the project.  The Cashless Catering Company had had restricted available dates to complete the work and it was anticipated that work would be completed in July 2015, with the exception of Oakfield School which would be completed in September 2015.  To allow the scheme to be completed £98,000 had been carried forward into 2015/16.

 

A Committee Member, in referring to the £255,000 transfer to the Library reserve, queried as to what this money was for.  In response the Principal Accountant advised that this money had been set aside in order to implement the proposals following the Library Review and would be allocated to cover the costs around support to community groups but also to fund any redundancies.  The Director of Learning and Skills also added that this was a planned reserve and that it was intended that following the Library Review savings of £500,000 would be made on an annual basis.  This transfer was therefore making provision for one off costs in order to achieve these savings. 

 

In answer to a Committee Member’s query regarding an underspend of £322,000 in relation to debt repayment, the Principal Accountant clarified that this was in relation to a provision being made for the Penarth Learning Community and the Llantwit Learning Community. 

 

A Committee Member, in questioning the transfer of £408,000 from the Schools long term supply reserve, was advised that for this financial year 2015/16 there was to be a budget deficit.  A review of the long term supply scheme was underway and it was likely that premiums would be increased to increase the income .  This would only come into effect with the 2016/17 budget settlement.

 

A Committee Member enquired as to whether an update could be provided in respect of the £72,000 allocated to emergency school repairs due to flood damage at St. Cyres secondary school and he questioned as to why this was not covered by the Council’s insurance.  In response the Director of Learning and Skills stated that they would need to seek advice and information from colleagues in other sections of the Council and that this would be reported to Members of the Committee in due course.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the report and the financial measures taken and proposed be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To note the report and the financial measures taken and proposed.

 

 

262     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 31ST MAY 2015 (DLS) –

 

The purpose of the report was to inform the Committee of the position in respect of revenue and capital expenditure for the period 1st April to 31st May 2015.  The Principal Accountant referred to the Revenue Budget and projected outturn for 2015/16 as detailed below.

 

Lifelong Learning  

Revenue   Budget

 

Probable   Outturn

Variance

(+ )   Favourable

(-)   Adverse

 

£000

£000

£000

Schools

79,586

79,586

0

School   Improvement & Inclusion

3,714

3,714

0

Service   Strategy & Regulation

247

247

0

Strategic   & Resources

10,235

10,235

0

Children   & Young People's Partnership

304

304

 

Total Education and   Schools

94,086

94,086

0

Libraries

2,359

2,359

0

Youth   Service

1,043

1,043

0

Adult   Community Learning

265

265

0

Catering

1,756

1,756

0

TOTAL

99,509

99,509

0

 

A graph and table setting out the variance between profiled budget and actual expenditure to date was attached at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

School Improvement and Inclusion, this service was aiming to outturn on target, however, there were significant pressures within the Inclusion budget due to a decrease in inter authority recoupment.  The Directorate was seeking ways to mitigate this overspend as part of the longer term Reshaping Services agenda.  The decrease in out of county income was as a result of an increased number of Vale pupils requiring a placement at Ysgol Y Deri, which has meant there were less places available for out of county pupils.

 

For Strategy and Resources, this service was aiming to outturn at budget; however, there were significant pressures in relation to the Schools Long Term Supply scheme which the Directorate would aim to mitigate.  This scheme was an internal insurance policy for schools underwritten by an Education reserve.  The potential pressure was as a result of projected expenditure on long term supply and maternity being in excess of the premiums charged to schools and the amount in the reserve.  The 2016/17 premiums charged to schools would be increased to ensure that the scheme was self- funding in the future.  The scheme would continue to be monitored.

 

Provision had been made within the budget to make unsupported borrowing debt repayments in relation to the Schools Investment Strategy of £698,000 per annum; any favourable variance on debt repayments would be directed into the Schools Investment Strategy. 

 

It was anticipated that £108,000 would be transferred from the Early Retirement and Voluntary Redundancy reserve in respect of the 2015/16 cost of the school scheme.

 

In referring to the Libraries Service, this budget would outturn on target after a transfer from the Libraries reserve to fund the costs of the implementation of the Libraries review.

 

Youth Service – It was anticipated that this service would outturn on target after transferring £52,000 from the Youth Service reserve to fund NEETS and Gateway to Engagement work in schools. 

 

With regard to Adult Community Learning, the Committee was advised that this service would outturn on budget after transferring £88,000 from reserves to fund redundancy and notice payments to staff, which had arisen as a result of reductions in external funding.

 

The Catering Service would outturn on target after a transfer of £55,000 from the Catering reserve to fund the final roll out of the Cashless Catering system.  There were projected underspends on the Breakfast Club of £38,000, revenue costs for the new catering system £9,000 and payments to the DSO for school meals of £28,000, which would also be used to fund the Cashless Catering system rollout.  The trading account was predicting to outturn on target, however, it was still very early in the financial year to predict the year end position.  A more accurate projection would be available following the September schools intake when the level of school meal take up and Free School Meals eligibility was known.

 

Other Services – As it was early in the financial year, all other services were anticipated to outturn within budget.

 

Capital

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st May 2015.  Members were advised that in respect of the Modular Building Resiting, it had been requested that the following schemes were amalgamated in order to enable a more co-ordinated approach to the procurement and re-location of Ysgol Dewi Sant demountables to Llangan and Fairfield Schools.  The total budget for the amalgamated scheme would be £817,000 and the scheme name would be Modular Building Resiting Ysgol Dewi Sant. 

 

  • Ysgol Dewi Sant Demountable Relocation £200,000
  • Modular Building Resiting £500,000
  • Llangan Classroom Base £117,000.

 

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

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the 2015/16 revenue and capital monitoring be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In order that Members are aware of the position with regard to the 2015/16 revenue and capital monitoring relevant to this Scrutiny Committee.

 

 

263     REGIONAL EDUCATION CONSORTIA: REPORTS BY ESTYN AND WALES AUDIT OFFICE (WAO) (DLS) –

 

The Director of Learning and Skills presented the report, the purpose of which was to inform the Scrutiny Committee of the conclusions of Estyn and the WAO following visits to the four regional education consortia.

 

The report outlined that Estyn and the WAO visited the four regional education consortia between November 2014 and January 2015 to report on the progress being made by the regional consortia to provide school improvement services.  The reports by both Estyn and the WAO, which referred to the progress of the consortia collectively, were published on 3rd June and were attached at Appendices 1 (Estyn) and 2 (WAO). 

 

The WAO report concluded “that after an uncertain start, the foundations for the regional school improvement services are being established and there were positive signs of progress but remaining weaknesses are hindering the development of the whole system and the effective governance and financial management of regional consortia”.  The main findings of the Estyn report were set out in pages 6 to 8 of the report (Appendix 1).

 

Both reports contained recommendations for consortia, Local Authorities and Welsh Government.  The recommendations for Local Authorities were:

 

Estyn:

 

R6       Support their regional consortium to develop medium-term business plans and ensure that all plans take account of the needs of their local schools

R7       Develop formal working arrangements between scrutiny committees in their consortium in order to scrutinise the work and impact of their regional consortium

 

WAO:

 

R1       To clarify the nature and operation of consortia

Local Authorities should clarify whether consortia services are jointly provided or are commissioned services (services provided under a joint committee arrangements are jointly provided services and are not commissioned services).

R4       To build effective leadership and attract top talent

Local Authorities should collaborate to support the professional development of senior leaders and to ensure appropriate performance management arrangements are in place for senior leaders.

R5       To improve the effectiveness of governance and management of regional consortia

 

Local Authorities and their regional consortia should:

  • Improve their use of self-evaluation of their performance and governance arrangements and use this to support business planning and their annual reviews of governance to inform their annual governance statements.
  • Improve performance management including better business planning, use of clear and measurable performance measures, and the assessment of value for money.
  • Make strategic risk management an integral part of their management arrangements and report regularly at joint committee or board level.
  • Develop their financial management arrangements to ensure that budgeting, financial monitoring and reporting cover all relevant income and expenditure, including grants funding spent through Local Authorities.
  • Develop joint scrutiny arrangements of the overall consortia as well as scrutiny of performance by individual authorities, which may involve establishment of a joint scrutiny committee or co-ordinated work by Local Authority Scrutiny Committees.
  • Ensure the openness and transparency of consortia decision making and arrangements.
  • Recognise and address any potential conflicts of interest; and where staff have more than one employer, regional consortia should ensure lines of accountability are clear and all staff are aware of the roles undertaken.
  • Develop robust communications strategies for engagement with all key stakeholders.

 

The visit to the Central South Consortium had been carried out in November / December 2014 and tailored verbal feedback was provided to the Consortium at that time.  The Estyn report commented that the consortia responded positively to the feedback and had already begun to address many issues raised in the reports.

 

The Joint Committee of the Central South Consortium agreed on an Action Plan setting out proposed actions in relation to the reports at their meeting on 25th June 2015.  This report was attached at Appendix 3 to the report.  It was noted that discussions were taking place nationally in relation to the recommendations relating to the scrutiny function.

 

In terms of what happens next, the Director advised that Estyn / WAO planned to inspect individual consortia next year and all inspection reports would be in the public domain.

 

In answer to a Member’s concern around whether the Council was receiving value for money from membership of the Central South Consortium, the Director of Learning and Skills stated that each year the Council allocated £655,000 to support the work of the Consortium.  She went on to explain that there were a number of ways the Council could assess whether it was achieving value for money.  The first related to a direct comparison of the current amount allocated to the Consortium and to the amount that the Council used to spend on the school improvement service.  She confirmed that the amount spent now was lower.  In addition, the Council had not incurred any inflationary pressures in respect of its contributions to the Central South Consortium, which the Council would have to face if it was a stand-alone service.  She also advised Members that a number of enhancements had been delivered through the delivery of the Central South Consortium’s business plan and she cited the example of the “Moving on in Maths” scheme which was aimed at bridging the gap and improving the teaching of maths across the primary and secondary school transition in Vale schools.  For this, the Central South Consortium had allocated an amount of approximately £100,000.  Overall, the main key way of showing value for money was in respect of a rise in the pupil attainment levels particularly at GCSE level.

 

Further to this point, the Cabinet Member stated that during the first year of the Central South Consortium it was fair to say that it did not work as effectively as it should have.  There were a number of issues to begin with, particularly around the governance arrangements and the leadership structure of the Consortium which did not achieve the best outcomes for the member Local Authorities.  Since that time new senior officers had been appointed and a new structure had been put into place and this had resulted in a significant improvement into how the Consortium operated.  The Cabinet Member stated that improvement could be demonstrated through the fact that of the top five secondary schools in Wales, two were from the Vale of Glamorgan and that every secondary school within the Vale had shown progress last year.  He also commented that according to headteachers, the School to School approach was working and that overall a lot had improved and better results were expected this year.  He stated that he was unsure whether the Council, on its own, could afford the improvements made.

 

The Head of School Improvement and Inclusion also asked if he could make some comments and stated that further to the Cabinet Member’s points, it should be noted that all outcomes within the Key Stages had shown an improvement last year.  He also stated that at a recent meeting with the headteachers of eight amber primary schools, it was clearly evident that the challenge provided to the headteachers by the Challenge Advisor was significant.  This was something that headteachers had found demanding but that they had all recognised how important the challenge process was. 

 

A Committee Member, in referring to the WAO report, queried findings that there was a failure of educational staff to understand the role of Local Authorities within the accountability and governance arrangements.  In response, the Director of Learning and Skills explained that this related to a WAO comment around the development of a national model for Consortia and, in particular, the lack of understanding by civil servants around the role that Local Authorities played in maintaining schools.

 

In response to a Member’s query regarding the scrutiny functions, the Cabinet Member stated that one thing that the Consortium was developing was for information to be presented to all Scrutiny Committees across the region at the same time.  This would help staff within the Consortium and it would formalise scrutiny arrangements.

 

The Committee also noted that as part of the improvements to the scrutiny arrangements within the Central South Consortium formal meetings would be arranged with the Chairs of each individual Scrutiny Committee on a regular basis in order to discuss performance of the Joint Educational Service.

 

A Committee Member enquired as to whether educational improvement had been seen within all of the member Local Authorities.  In response, the Director of Learning and Skills stated that last year all five authorities had seen an improvement in pupil attainment and that some of the most significant improvement had been by those Local Authorities with the lowest rate of performance.  Each Local Authority in the region had been inspected by Estyn and all had been required to make some form of improvements. 

 

Further to this point, the Head of School Improvement and Inclusion informed Members that he met with the Senior Challenge Advisor from the Consortium on a regular basis and that during these meetings he challenged the performance of the Consortium.   In addition, on a termly basis he also met with all Challenge Advisors involved with schools in the Vale, who were made aware of the Vale’s priorities and regular update reports were discussed with senior officers within the Consortium.  Termly meetings including the Director of Learning and Skills and the Managing Director of the Consortium monitored progress in the Vale.  He stated that from his perspective he had seen an improvement in practices that ensured that schools were more robustly held to account and challenged to improve.  Challenge Advisors and Officers were now ready to have the challenging conversations.

 

Having considered the report the Committee

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the two reports and the work that is being progressed by the Central South Consortium Joint Education Service be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T both reports be referred to Cabinet for consideration.

 

(3)       T H A T the WAO report be referred to the Audit Committee.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In order that the Scrutiny Committee scrutinises the work of the Central South Consortium and these reports include relevant comments about the development of regional education consortia across wales, they also include recommendations specifically related to scrutiny arrangements.

 

(2)       These reports include recommendations for Local Authorities as well as consortia and Welsh Government.

 

(3)       The report includes recommendations that relate to the responsibilities of the Committee.

 

 

264     SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY BASED COUNSELLING SERVICE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE (DLS) –

 

The purpose of the report was to advise Members of the current position and progress in relation to the development of the local school based counselling service in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

The report outlined that the key recommendation following the Clywch report in 2004 which was issued by the then Children’s Commissioner, Peter Clark, was the establishment of a counselling service for young people.

 

In 2008, the Vale of Glamorgan was successful in accessing funding for its proposed model to deliver a counselling service and Barnardos Cymru Ltd was selected as the preferred service deliverer.

 

The initial funding for the service allocated in 2008/09 was £42,000, this rose to £192,000 in 2012/13.  The increase each year was to enable the service to grow slowly and to ensure all secondary and special schools received a service.  From April 2013 funding was provided through the revenue support grant and the remit was expanded to include provision for young people up to 19 years old. 

 

Welsh Government guidance advised that all secondary school pupils should receive access to a confidential counselling service.  All eight mainstream Vale secondary school received either one or two days per week.  Additional days were allocated for special schools, out of school provision and some primary provision.  The service also covered pupil referral units, those receiving home tuition, non-attenders and those accessing or entitled to educational support.

 

In March 2013 the School Standards and Organisational (Wales) Act set in place a legal requirement for all Local Authorities to secure “reasonable provision” for an “independent counselling service” in respect of health, emotional and social needs.

 

A multi-agency Management Board oversaw development of the service in the Vale of Glamorgan, including officers from the Learning and Skills Directorate, headteachers and officers from the Public Health Team. 

 

An open procurement process took place during 2013 for the delivery of a School and Community Based Counselling Service in line with the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and with the Council’s Standing Orders.  Action for Children was appointed as the provider from June 2013 for a period of three years.

 

Robust monitoring and evaluation systems were in place to comply with Welsh Government requirements, and the Management Board continued to oversee the service.  The service continued to report to Welsh Government as required and was part of any Estyn inspection that would take place of the Local Authority or individual schools.  Feedback was collected from school staff and pupils.

 

Between April 2014 to March 2015, 382 young people undertook an episode of counselling, 13 of these were Primary school pupils and 25 were part of the community counselling and included those referred by post education providers or the Out of School Team.  This equated to 2,760 individual sessions, with females accounting for approximately 60% of those accessing the service.  Traditionally young people access the service as they get older, this year the peak was in Year 9. Approximately 55% of young people self-referred to the service through various mechanisms including electronically, this showed significant growth on previous years and suggested the continuation of the normalisation of the service within schools.   

 

Of those seen by a counsellor, seven young people reported being a 'Looked After Child' (LAC), this was below the national average.  This had been discussed by the Management Board and raised with the appropriate staff working directly with LAC, but numbers remained low. 96 young people identified themselves as having a special educational need or a disability, which equated to approximately 25% of service users, most of whom were within mainstream education.

 

The main issues for referral (presenting issues) were family, anger and stress issues.  Predominant issues highlighted during counselling included family, stress, pupil self -worth and anger.  Self-harm had increased rising within both presenting and predominant issues this year.  This information had been highlighted to those schools showing significant increases and shared with the Educational Psychology (EP) team.  This had led to the EP team devising action plans with three schools to implement early intervention strategies. 

 

YP Core was used as a tool to assess psychological wellbeing.  Outcome data continued to show significant positive progress for the young people undertaking counselling.  The YP Core tool showed a consistent 5 to 6 point reduction in pre and post counselling intervention on a scale of 0 (Healthy) to 40 (Severe).  The Annual report demonstrated areas covered within the YP Core scale.  The reduction in outcome scores pre and post counselling from previous years and was partially down to counsellors working with the young people to complete the outcome tool (previously this was self-scored) and it was felt that by having a better understanding of the questions, young people were scoring themselves more appropriately.

 

A small number of child protection issues had been identified through individual counselling sessions and positive links had been developed with the Intake and Family Support Team within Social Services.  The numbers being referred to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) also remained low, but informal feedback from CAMHS suggested that those referrals to CAMHS were considered more appropriate referrals.  At a National level thresholds for accessing CAMHS services appeared to be rising.  Currently the number of young people accessing both CAMHS services and counselling was not formally collected (being considered locally), but informal feedback suggested there were a significant number, these young people were arriving with higher needs and therefore remaining in counselling longer.     

 

The annual report (attached as Appendix A to the report) referred to a service review that had been undertaken by Action for Children.

 

Feedback from young people using the Post Counselling Questionnaire (PCE) was positive.  From 137 returned questionnaires young people strongly agreed or agreed that:

 

  • 97% counselling enabled them to talk about their feelings and thoughts;
  • 96% felt comfortable with the counsellor and would use the service again;
  • 74% reported improved relationships with their family;
  • of the 45% who reported that attendance at school was problematic prior to counselling, 74% reported that counselling had made it easier to attend.

 

Informal and formal reports from individual professionals and teachers highlighted the benefits and satisfaction of counselling for young people.  Feedback indicated high levels of satisfaction within schools of the counsellors' practice, professionalism and attitude to young people.  Action for Children Counselling project lead offered to meet with schools on a termly basis to discuss emerging issues.

 

During 2014-15 one counsellor and the lead counsellor were suspended following a safeguarding concern, which had now been resolved and both members of staff had returned to work.  This had impacted on the ability of the service to again realise projected benefits with a loss of 86 counselling days.

 

Frustration had also been noted amongst schools and young people about waiting list times (53 waiting in November, 83 in January, 109 in April), reflecting continued changes in staffing, recruitment delays, suspension of staff member, the impact of guidance in 2013 broadening access to the service (year 6 and up to 19 years of age) and the popularity and normalisation of the service: young people wished to seek help and teachers were willing to refer to the service, seeing the advantages to the young person's wellbeing.  However, unrealised projected increases in the number of days within the new contract should have helped counteract many of these issues.

 

It was difficult to accurately compare historic numbers accessing the service and total number of interviews conducted with current data, due to changes in funding periods (Academic to financial years) developmental funding increases and previous delivery model.  However figures from the Autumn term 2011 and Spring term 2012 would be closest in terms of funding and model delivery and therefore most comparable with the last two years’ delivery.

 

Number   of young people accessing counselling

 

Autumn   Term

Spring   Term

2011/12

         85

         108

2013/14

         89

           79

2014/15

         88

           90

 

 

Number   of interviews conducted

 

Autumn   Term

Spring   Term

2011/12

         368

        529

2013/14

         375

        321

2014/15

         443

        642

 

This demonstrated that young people accessing counselling was still below expectations and those accessing were remaining within counselling for longer periods of time. 

 

Close working and robust monitoring between Action for Children and the contract manager ensured that all noted issues were regularly reviewed.  The frequency of monitoring meetings had increased, this was followed by a note highlighting areas of concern.  A further meeting had taken place with the Action for Children's Area Manager and Operational Director to discuss shortfall in days and the actions that Action for Children would take to address this issue.  The Contract Manager had recommended that the Action for Children revisit its structure and working arrangements to improve current project outcomes.

 

Importantly, the quality of counselling remained high, although the current provider had been informed that the Vale would not seek to extend the current contract for a further two years and would be redrafting the procurement document adding potential penalties and / or liquated damages for failure by any future provider to meet contracted outcomes. 

 

A Committee Member queried as to why Cowbridge Comprehensive School was not mentioned within the report.  In reply the Head of School Improvement and Inclusion stated that he would find out details around counselling at Cowbridge School and inform Members in due course.

 

In referring to feedback that had been received from some of the children in which it was indicated that due to counselling they had missed a number of lessons such as maths, a Committee Member queried as to what was being progressed to improve this.  This was something that officers would ensure would be part of the tendering process.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

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

 

(2)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) continues to monitor progress in the development of the service.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure Members are kept informed of the counselling service and the impact on young people.

 

(2)       To consider the progress that has been achieved.

 

 

265     1ST QUARTER SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND WORK PROGRAMME SCHEDULE 2015/16 (MD) –

 

The purpose of the report was to advise Members of progress in relation to the Scrutiny Committee recommendations and to confirm the updated work programme schedule for the Scrutiny Committee for 2015/16.

 

Attached at Appendix A was the 1st Quarter decision tracking for April to June 2015 while at Appendix B was the work programme schedule for 2015/16.

 

Following the Cabinet meeting held on 13th July 2015, the Scrutiny Support Officer provided Members with a verbal update on decision tracking for the 22nd June 2015.  Members noted the Cabinet resolutions and agreed that the status of the actions could be changed to ‘completed’.

 

In terms of the work programme, the Scrutiny Support Officer advised that the Managing Director from the Central South Consortium will be invited to give an update on the Joint Education Services at the Scrutiny Committee meeting scheduled for 7th December, 2015.

 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the following recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee be deemed completed:

 

20 April 2015

Min. No. 1134 – Annual Report on Schools 2013/14 (OM –   AUDIT) –   Recommended

(2)   That the Annual Audit Report on Schools be   presented to the Scrutiny Committee on an annual basis.

 

 

 

Added   to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 1135 – Pupil Deprivation Grant Funding   (Request for Consideration) (DLS) – Recommended

(3)   That the Scrutiny Committee receives   update reports on the impact of the Pupil Deprivation Grant funding as and   when appropriate and the Committee’s work programme be amended accordingly.

 

 

 

Added   to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 1136 – Individual School Performance Progress   Panel Meeting (DLS) – Recommended

(2)   That an update report be presented to the   Scrutiny Committee in the Autumn following the GCSE results in August 2015,   at that time the Committee would consider whether a revisit would be   required.

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

 

 

 

(2)   Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

 

 

 

(3)   Cabinet, on 1st June 2015,   noted the contents of the report and resolved that a further update report be   presented to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) and Cabinet in the Autumn   following the GCSE results in August 2015.

(Min. No. C2784   refers)

Completed

Min. No. 1137 – School Mid-Year Attendance Report (DLS)   –   Recommended

(2)   That it be noted that the Scrutiny   Committee would receive a further report in October 2015 detailing end of   year performance.

(3)   That the report be referred to the Cabinet   for consideration in recognition of the increase in school attendance and the   improvements being made.

 

 

 

(2)   Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

 

(3)   Cabinet, on 1st June 2015,   noted the contents of the report and resolved that attendance reports be   presented to Cabinet on a half yearly basis.

(Min. No. C2784   refers)

Completed

Min. No. 1139 – Scrutiny Decision Tracking of   Recommendations and Work Programme Schedule 2015/16 (DR) – Recommended

(2)   That the work programme schedule be   amended to include the actions as outlined above * and that it be uploaded to   the Council’s website for information.

(3)   That the meeting with Headteachers be   deleted from the work programme schedule.   

 

 

 

 

(2)   Work programme schedule amended and   uploaded to the Council’s website on 28th April 2015.

Completed

(3)   Deleted from work programme schedule.

Completed

18 May 2015

Min. No. 28 – Youth Engagement and Progression NEET   (DLS) –   Recommended

(2)   That the Committee receives further   progress reports on a six monthly basis.

 

(3)   That the report be referred to Cabinet in   order to raise awareness of the funding position for the Engagement and   Progression Officer post, it being the view of the Committee that this post   was essential and should be continued to sustain improvement for the service   by brokering provision and linking schools, Career Wales and training   providers to the Local Authority NEETS strategy.

 

 

 

(2)   Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

(3)   Cabinet, on 29th June 2015,   resolved

(1)   That the contents of the report and the   importance of the work of the Council’s Engagement and Progression Officer on   the Youth Engagement and Progression Framework, be noted.

(2)   That Officers be congratulated for their   hard work in reducing NEET numbers.

(3)   That funding from the Learning and Skills   budget for the Engagement and Progression Officer post be continued until the   end of the financial year.

(Min. No. C2819)

Completed

Min. No. 30 – Vale Youth Cabinet - January - March 2015   Progress Report and Youth Representation on Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong   Learning) (MD) –   Recommended

(1)   That the Vale Youth Cabinet progress   report be noted and referred to Cabinet for information.

 

(2)   That Cabinet and Full Council be   recommended to approve that the Vale Youth Forum be invited to nominate two   representatives to sit as non-voting observers on the Scrutiny Committee   (Lifelong Learning).

 

 

 

 

 

(1)   Cabinet, on 29th June 2015,   noted the contents of the report.

(Min. No. C2818   refers)

Completed

(2)   Cabinet, on 29th June 2015,   resolved

(2)   That the principle of the Vale Youth Forum   being invited to nominate two representatives, plus substitutes, as   non-voting observers to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) be agreed.

(3)   That a more detailed report be brought to   Cabinet with a view to making a recommendation to Council in September and   incorporating those recommendations into the report on the Council   Constitution which would also be considered at that Council meeting.

(Min. No. C2818   refers)

Completed

Min. No. 31 – Central South Consortium Business Plan   2015/16 (REF) –   Recommended

(1)   That Cabinet be informed of the concerns   of the Committee at the lack of co-ordinated scrutiny of the Central South   Consortium.

 

 

 

Cabinet,   on 29th June 2015, resolved

(1)   That the contents of the report and the   concerns of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) at the lack of   co-ordinated scrutiny of the Central South Consortium be noted.

(2)   That the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong   Learning) be reminded that they can call Officers or Vale representatives on   the Central South Consortium to attend a meeting of the Scrutiny Committee at   any time.

(Min No. C2820   refers)

Completed

Min. No. 32 – Estyn Monitoring Visit: Adult Community   Learning (REF) –   Recommended

(1)   That the staff who played a part in   turning around the Adult Community Learning Department following the   unsatisfactory Estyn inspection be thanked for the hard work undertaken.

(2)   That the Committee continues to monitor   and scrutinise the service on an annual basis.

 

 

 

(1)   Officer to convey views of Scrutiny   Committee.

Completed

 

 

(2)   Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

22   June 2015

Min. No. 129 – Individual School Performance   Progress  Panel Meeting - Eagleswell   Primary School (DLS) – Recommended

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

 

 

 

 

Cabinet, on 13th   July, 2015, resolved that the contents of the report be noted and   the Performance Progress Panel be thanked for their work that was now   complete.

(Min No C2842 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 130 – Individual School Performance Progress   Panel - Barry Comprehensive School (DLD) – Recommended

(2)   That a follow up visit to the school takes   places in the Autumn Term following the GCSE results in August 2015.

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

 

 

 

 

(2&3)   Cabinet, on 13th July, 2015,   resolved

[1]   That the   contents of the report be noted and the Performance Progress Panel be thanked   for their ongoing work.

[2]   That   following the release of exam results in August 2015, Cabinet would advise   the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) if a further performance review of   the school was required.

(Min No C2841   refers)

Completed

Min. No. 132 – Target Setting 2015-16 (DLD) – Recommended

(1)   That the Committee endorse the proposed   Learning and Skills targets as outlined in Appendix 2 and for this to be   referred to Cabinet for consideration.

 

 

Cabinet,   on 13th July, 2015, noted the contents of the report.

(Min No C2837   refers)

Completed

 

(2)       T H A T the updated / amended work programme schedule attached at Appendix B be approved and uploaded to the Council’s website.

           

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In view of the Committee’s views on the status of the actions listed.

 

(2)       For information.

 

 

266     SCRUTINY COMMITTEES’ DRAFT ANNUAL REPORT – MAY 2014 TO APRIL 2015 (MD) –

 

The Scrutiny Committee’s draft 2014/15 Annual Report was presented to the Committee Members. 

 

The Annual Report was attached at Appendix 1 to the report and included details of the work of all five of the Council’s Scrutiny Committees for 2014/15.  The report represented an overview of the work of the Scrutiny Committees during the year and Members were requested to refer specifically to the relevant sections for the Committee and to make any amendments / suggestions as appropriate.

 

Having considered the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the contents of the draft Annual Report for the period May 2014 to April 2015 be approved, subject to any further minor amendments being agreed in consultation with the Chairman and that it be submitted to Full Council in September 2015.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To approve the draft Scrutiny Committees’ Annual Report and to allow it to be submitted to Full Council in September 2015.