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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING)

 

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

 

Present: Councillor N.P. Hodges (Chairman); Councillor R.A. Penrose (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Ms. R. Birch, Mrs. C.L. Curtis, Ms. K.E. Edmunds, C.P. Franks,  A. Parker and Mrs. A.J. Preston.

 

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 Observers: Mr. G. Beaudette (Primary Sector), Mr. D. Treharne (Welsh Medium Education) and Ms. T. Young (Secondary Sector).

 

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

 

 

491     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Councillors Mrs. M.E.J. Birch, T.H. Jarvie,

 

 

492     MINUTES –

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 7th September, 2015 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

493     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

These were received from Mr. L. Kellaway (Governor – Bro Morgannwg) in relation to Agenda Item No. 7; Ms. T. Young (Teacher at Bryn Hafren), Agenda Item Nos. 6 and 7; and  Mr. P. Burke (Governor – St. Richard Gwyn ) Agenda Item No. 6.

 

N.B. All left the room whilst these items were under consideration.

 

 

494     CORPORATE SAFEGUARDING UPDATE (REF) –

 

The report had been referred by Cabinet for the Committee’s consideration and provided an update on the work that had been undertaken to improve corporate arrangements for safeguarding and protecting children and adults who required specific Council services and to ensure that these arrangements were effective. 

 

In 2011, the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) and the Education and Training Inspectorate for Wales (Estyn) published a joint report, following their investigation into the way Pembrokeshire County Council was managing allegations of professional abuse and its arrangements for safeguarding and protecting children in education services.  Significant concerns were expressed in the report about the quality of corporate working to safeguard and protect children by the Local Authority.

 

Following that report, a Corporate Safeguarding Working Group was established to learn lessons from the Pembrokeshire investigation and to ensure that robust arrangements for protecting children and young people were in place in the Vale of Glamorgan area.  In January, 2013, Cabinet agreed a Safer Recruitment Policy for the Council and Schools.  The Policy was implemented in April 2013 and was adopted by all Vale schools throughout the Council. 

 

The report outlined that there had been a substantial number of changes in Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) eligibility and administrative arrangements.  These had been incorporated within a revised DBS policy and procedure, which Cabinet had approved in March 2015.  A new action plan was being developed by the Corporate Safeguarding Working Group to address findings from experience, inspection and audit.

 

Attached at Appendix 1 to the report was the Corporate Safeguarding Update – June 2015 that outlined the safeguarding activity undertaken by the Resources, Learning and Skills and Social Services Directorates. 

 

In considering the report, a Member queried the figures in paragraph 48 as to whether these were correct or had been mistyped.  The Head of School Improvement and Inclusion agreed to check the information and report back to Members via e-mail.

 

Having considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the work that had been undertaken to improve corporate arrangements for safeguarding and protecting children and adults be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee continues to receive six monthly reports on work carried out to improve corporate safeguarding arrangements and the effectiveness of relevant policies.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To note the recent developments in corporate arrangements for safeguarding.

 

(2)       To allow the Scrutiny Committee to exercise oversight of the key area of corporate working.

 

 

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

 

In presenting the report, the Principal Accountant advised that there were significant pressures within the Inclusion service in relation to inter Authority recoupment with it being anticipated that the Learning and Skills Directorate could outturn with an overspend of around £175k at the year end.  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 specific reference to the services within the Directorate, Members were advised of the following:

 

School Improvement and Inclusion – Overall the service was projecting an adverse variance of around £537k, however, this amount could be offset by £70k funded from the Excluded Pupils reserves and therefore an adverse variance of £467k was currently projected at year end.  The adverse variance on alternative curriculum placements of £70k was projected due to increased demand for the service, but this would however, be funded from the Excluded Pupils reserve.  An adverse variance of £380k was anticipated on inter Authority recoupment income.  Increased demand for Vale pupils requiring placements in Ysgol Y Deri had resulted in fewer placements available for other Authorities to purchase.  An adverse variance of £102k was projected on pupil placements in independent schools and other authorities due to an increase in the number of pupils with significant needs that were unable to be met at Ysgol Y Deri.  These overspends would be offset by a favourable variance of £15k on staffing costs due to part year vacancies within teams.  The Directorate was seeking ways to mitigate the overspend as part of the longer term Reshaping Services agenda.

 

Service Strategy and Regulation – It was anticipated that this service would outturn with a £6k favourable variance due to efficiencies within the Business Support section.

 

Strategy and Resources – The service was anticipating a favourable variance at year end of £270k.  There were favourable variances on the transport budget of £149k, £62k on salaries due to part year vacancies, £49k due to payments to private nurseries as a result of a reduction in non-maintained nursery settings and £10k on other supplies and services.  There were however significant pressures in relation to the Schools Long Term Supply scheme with an adverse variance of £270k anticipated and the Early Retirement and Voluntary Redundancy scheme also projecting an adverse variance of £163k.  Both these overspends would be funded from the respective reserves.

 

Children and Young People’s Partnership – It was anticipated that this service would outturn with a favourable variance of £16k due to a part year vacancy in the team.

 

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

 

Libraries – The service was projecting an adverse variance of £131k, however, this amount could be funded from the Library reserve and therefore a breakeven position was anticipated at year end.  The overspend had arisen as a result of the one off costs associated with the implementation of the Libraries review.

 

Youth Service – The service was projecting an adverse variance of £52k, however, this amount could be funded from the Youth Service Reserve and therefore a breakeven position was anticipated at year end.  This additional expenditure was being used to fund NEETS and Gateway to Engagement work in schools.

 

Adult Community Learning – This service was projecting an adverse variance of £93k, however, the amount could be funded from the Adult and Community Learning reserve and therefore a breakeven position was anticipated at year end.  The overspend was due to redundancy and notice payments to staff, which had arisen as a result of reductions in funding from Welsh Government and Cardiff and the Vale College.

 

Catering – The Catering client budget was projecting an adverse variance of £35k again this amount could be funded from the Catering Reserve and therefore a breakeven position was anticipated at year end.  The transfer from reserves would fund the final instalment of the new cashless catering system within schools.  There were also underspends on the breakfast club, revenue costs for the new catering system and payments to the DSO for school meals which would also be used to fund the cashless catering system.  The trading account was predicting to outturn on target.

 

In considering the report a Member queried the Council’s use of the reserves as outlined above.  In response the Principal Accountant advised that with regard to long term supply schemes and voluntary EER, these had been planned reserves which had been accumulated in order to spend when necessary.  The Library was also a similar matter where reserves had been planned for in order to fund the implementation of the Libraries review and again for the Catering service reserves would be used to fund the final instalment of the Cashless Catering System within schools. 

 

In referring to School Improvement and Inclusion, Members raised concerns as to whether the issues at Ysgol Y Deri were likely to be long term following the increased demand for Vale pupils requiring placements which had resulted in fewer placements available for other Authorities to purchase.  The Head of School Improvement and Inclusion stated that there appeared to be a greater demand for special needs provision although the department was aware that it needed to review the provision particularly in light of comments at Headteacher Advisory Panel meetings that some children may have moderate learning needs which could be catered for in mainstream education.   

 

Another Member also raised concerns regarding the use of reserves and queried whether the department was fully aware of the changes in children’s circumstances in order to plan the budget more accurately.  The Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources advised that the department had been aware of the issue for some time and had advised Members accordingly.  The favourable variances were also current estimates and that at this precise moment in time these were the department’s best estimates of spend.  The Reshaping Services agenda that was taking place would also look at areas where the Council could reduce costs but she was aware that Additional Learning Needs was where support for the most vulnerable was required.

 

Although accepting the report, Members requested to receive detailed up to date information regarding SEN placements at Ysgol Y Deri, and that this be included in the draft budget proposals when presented to the December Scrutiny meeting. 

 

Having considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the position with regard to the 2015/16 revenue and capital monitoring for the period 1st April to 31st August 2015 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the information in relation to placements at Ysgol Y Deri be provided to the Scrutiny Committee when consideration of the Council’s draft budget proposals is presented.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To apprise Members of the position with regard to the 2015/16 revenue and capital monitoring.

 

(2)       To enable Members to make informed decisions at the time of considering the Council’s draft budget.

 

 

496     SCHOOL PERFORMANCE REPORT 2014-15: FOUNDATION PHASE AND KEY STAGES 2 TO 5 (REF) –

 

The referred which had been referred by Cabinet to the Committee for consideration  informed Members on pupils’ attainment and school performance outcomes for 2014-15 Foundation Phase and Key Stages 2 to 5 and  advised that when considering Local Authority (LA) performance, the key indicators for consideration were as below:

 

  • LA performance compared with the all Wales means and the LA performance compared to the top five highest performing LAs in Wales;
  • LA performance trends over time, when compared with the all Wales means and prior performance;
  • the relative gap in performance between LA means and the all Wales means;
  • the spot rank position of the performance of the local Authority when compared with LAs across Wales; the spot rank, preferentially, should be in first position or, as a minimum, within the top five highest performing LAs in Wales;
  • for each indicator in each phase, the proportion of schools performing in the high or highest benchmarking positions when compared with similar schools and ranked against  LAs across Wales.

 

For benchmarking purposes a school could be located in the top two quarters, i.e. the high or highest benchmarking position in the group or in the lower to lowest two quarters. Relative performance of similar schools was then described as being either above or below the median i.e. either in the top 50%, or in the bottom 50%, of similar schools. Estyn also placed great emphasis on the need to ensure that at least 50% of schools across an LA, for each indicator within each phase, were located in the high or highest benchmarking positions, or above the median.

 

Welsh Government used this information to rank individual LAs according to the proportion of schools, in each LA, that were located above, or below the median. This was known as the LA School Benchmarking Rank comparative information.  The latter information was however not yet available for 2014/15.

 

Appendix 1 to the report detailed performance tables for Foundation Phase, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3 2012 to 2014, the schools performing in the highest middle to highest percentage table for Foundation Phase, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3 2012 to 2014, and the performance data table for Foundation Phase, Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3 2012 to 2014. 

 

In referring to progress at Key Stage 4, it was noted that:

 

  • “Provisional data indicates improved performance in L2 for English (+5.2%), Maths (+1.6%) and Science (+3.5%). L2 Welsh dipped (-1.4%). (Appendix 1, page 4).
  • The CSI showed a further increase of 4.6% having increased by 9.9% last academic year.
  • The L2+ indicator has increased by 2.5 percentage points to 64.7%, ranking the Vale second in Wales. However, five schools had a fall in L2+: Bryn Hafren (-1%), Cowbridge (-10%), St. Richard Gwyn (-3%), St. Cyres (-2%) and Bro Morgannwg (-4%).  Individual school performance at KS4 is shown in Appendix 2.
  • It was the extent of the increase in L2+ performance in the remaining schools that led to the improvement in the local authority L2+ performance.  Stanwell's L2+ increased by 5%, Barry Comprehensive by 13% and Llantwit by 15%.
  • Based on last year's quartiles, Llantwit's improved performance gives it first quarter performance for 8 of the 9 key indicators shown whilst Stanwell has first quarter performance 8 of the 9 indicators shown.  Both Barry and St. Cyres Comprehensive schools show improvement in their benchmarking positions: further analysis of Barry Comprehensive's progress was included in paragraph 19.
  • There has been a slight decline in the benchmarking positions of Cowbridge and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg. The benchmarking data for St. Richard Gwyn has worsened with 7 of the 9 indicators shown having performance in the bottom quarter.
  • For the level 2+ threshold the difference in performance between eFSM and non FSM shows little sign of narrowing. It was 37.6% last academic year and 37.4% this year.  It remains a significant area of developmental need.
  • When considering the L2+ performance of eFSM pupils, there are three schools where fewer than 35% of these pupils achieve the L2+ threshold: Cowbridge (33.3%), Barry (19.4%) and Bryn Hafren (23.1%).  The best performing school with regard to this indicator was Llantwit (66.7%) “

 

The report also highlighted progress at Key Stage 5, with Members being informed that A/S performance for the Local Authority had improved by 2.2% for A-C grades and more entries (+1.8%) achieved grade A. 

 

However, at A level, performance for the Vale showed a decline which was detailed at Appendix 3 to the report.

 

  • The percentage of entries achieving A* to A grades dipped to 22.9% from 27.9% last academic year. Fewer entries secured A* to C grades (75.5% from 76.3%) and A* to E grades (97.5% from 98%) Furthermore the performance is similar to that for the consortium when it should be significantly higher.  Post 16 performance has become a focus for development.

 

Members were then informed of schools causing the Directorate concern and where the use of powers of intervention had been undertaken as outlined below:

 

  • “Barry Comprehensive School was judged by Estyn as requiring significant improvement in July 2015.  Progress against 2 recommendations was judged as satisfactory and against the remaining four as limited.  It is noted that the improved KS4 performance was not taken into account as Estyn cannot use unverified data.
  • GCSE performance has demonstrated significant improvement particularly in English and L2+.  However, despite this improvement there remains a great deal to be done. The percentage of eFSM pupils attaining the L2+ remains unacceptably low (19%).  This is despite the considerable, bespoke support that the school has received, including that provided by School Challenge Cymru and the Pathfinder initiative.  Strong progress is needed against all of the Estyn recommendations.
  • Barry Comprehensive is currently subject to statutory intervention by the Council in accordance with the Standards and Organisation Act 2008 which has now been extended to include the appointment of two additional governors.
  • Bryn Hafren remains in Estyn monitoring.  Despite making improvement in certain areas such as L2 English, now 65%, it has failed to make the improvement required in other key indicators such as L2 Maths which dropped to 42% from 47% and L2+ which dropped by 1% to 42%. In addition the percentage of eFSM pupils attaining L2+ is unacceptably low at 23%. Estyn is likely to revisit the school shortly.
  • The school has been sent a formal warning notice and has been given minimum expectations in key performance areas.  It has been informed that if these expectations are not reached, the Director of Learning and Skills will recommend to the Council that it exercises its powers of intervention in the governance and management arrangements of the school.
  • St Richard Gwyn has not made improvement and standards dipped rather than improved this year.  The benchmarking data for the school shows below median performance in most of the main performance indicators for at least two years.
  • The school has been sent a formal warning notice and has been given minimum expectations in key performance areas. In addition, it is suggested that the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee seek to convene an improvement panel to meet with the headteacher and representatives of the governing body.  The school has been informed of the Directors intent, if the minimum standards are not met, to recommend to the Council that it exercises its powers of intervention in the governance and management arrangements of the school in accordance with the Standards and Organisation Act 2013. “

 

In referring specifically to Appendix 2, the Head of Service advised that the number of red categories was decreasing and although there were a number of yellow categories (3) performance indicators still showed an improving position, but where intervention had been undertaken he fully supported the Director’s action regarding warning notices to various schools.

 

The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools, in referring to paragraph 19 and the intervention by the Director to appoint two additional Governors to Barry Comprehensive School, advised that Governor appointments had recently been made by the Local Authority Governor Panel which would be reported to Cabinet for approval in due course.  He agreed that the use of the Director’s powers to intervene in the schools had been endorsed by himself and Cabinet.  Robust challenge was required and hence the Cabinet had recommended that the Scrutiny Committee reconvene individual School Progress meetings with Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools and establish a Panel with St. Richard Gwyn Comprehensive School.

 

In referring to the use of the PDG grant in relation to FSM, a Member queried the impact of the grant and the improvement schemes that were being used to improve life chances for children.  In response the Head of Service advised that schools could now be identified in relation to improvements made and as such an evaluation of the PDG was currently being undertaken.  He also reiterated that the PDG grant and its impact was the number one priority at Head teachers’ meetings to ensure that the PDG grant was used for children that required the support, as intended by the grant.

 

Following full consideration of the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the pupil attainment and school performance outcomes, based in the case of GCSE and A level examinations on provisional data, be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T, in accordance with the School Standards and Organisation Act (2013), the Committee note that formal warning letters had been issued to St. Richard Gwyn and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools and that the statutory intervention at Barry Comprehensive School had been extended to include the appointment of two additional Governors.

 

(3)       T H A T the individual School Progress Panels at Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools be reconvened and that a Panel be established for St. Richard Gwyn Comprehensive School to include the Chairman, Councillor N.P. Hodges, Dr. D.C. Brown (Co-Opted Member) and another Elected Member name to be confirmed with the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer in order that a Panel can be established before the end of December 2015.  

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In noting the attainment of pupils and the performance of schools in 2014/15.

 

(2)       In recognition of the fact that full powers available to the Authority were being used to improve schools that were underperforming and in accordance with the School Standards and Organisation Act (2013).

 

(3)       In order that the Scrutiny Committee continues to review educational outcomes of those schools and to review the progress at Barry, Bryn Hafren and St. Richard Gwyn Comprehensive Schools.

 

(N.B. Mr. P. Burke, (Co-opted Member) and Ms. T. Young, (Observer) left the room during consideration of this item.)

 

 

497     PROPOSAL TO TRANSFORM SECONDARY EDUCATION IN BARRY (REF) –

 

Cabinet had referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee on 5th October, 2015 for information.  The report outlined the outcome of the recent consultation exercise that had been undertaken to transform secondary education in Barry. 

 

The report highlighted that secondary education in Barry was presently provided by four schools:

 

  • Barry Comprehensive for boys aged 11-16 years, with a partially mixed 6th form.
  • Bryn Hafren Comprehensive for girls aged 11-16 years, with a partially mixed 6th form.
  • St Richard Gwyn Roman Catholic Comprehensive for boys and girls aged 11‑16 years.
  • Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg for boys and girls aged 3-18 years taught in the Welsh language. Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg amalgamated with Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg on 1st September, 2015.

 

The consultation however, and the report did not include any proposals affecting St. Richard Gwyn Roman Catholic Comprehensive School.

 

A consultation to establish the extent of local support for the principle of co-education was undertaken in 2013 and Cabinet had considered the response to that consultation at its meeting on 16th December, 2013 (Cabinet Minute C2124).  In response to this consultation, Cabinet had resolved to establish a Project Board to begin a programme of work to develop detailed proposals for a change to coeducational secondary schooling in Barry.  The Project Board developed a proposal, which also included the expansion of Welsh medium secondary education.  This was presented to Cabinet for consideration on 23rd February, 2015.

 

As a consequence and following due consideration, Cabinet  resolved  that a consultation would take place from 11th May, 2015 for a period of 8 weeks to assess the level of support for the proposals to transform secondary education in Barry as outlined above (Cabinet Minute C2662).  The consultation exercise followed the requirements of the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and School Organisation Code 2013.  The report was also referred to Scrutiny Committees (Corporate Resources) and (Lifelong Learning) for consideration as part of the consultation process.

 

In accordance with the statutory process outlined in the School Organisation Code 2013, a consultation report must be published within 13 weeks of the end of the period allowed for response to the consultation exercise.  The report must be published electronically and hard copies must be made available on request.  All prescribed consultees must either receive a hard copy or be e-mailed a link to the relevant website. The publication of the consultation report must take place before any proposal is published.  The consultation was undertaken between 11th May and 6th July, 2015 and consultees were issued with a hard copy of the document which was also published on the Council's website. There had also been extensive social media coverage of the consultation.

 

Meetings were held with staff and governors at each of the three secondary schools and the primary schools included in the proposal.  Drop in sessions were held on 2nd, 3rd and 10th June, 2015.

 

The report highlighted that appropriate consultation had taken place with prescribed consultees, young people of the four schools (Barry Comprehensive, Bryn Hafren, Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg) affected by the proposal and with children attending the feeder primary schools linked to the English and Welsh medium secondary schools in Barry.

 

Age appropriate consultation workshops were undertaken with 497 children from the English and Welsh medium feeder primary schools.  Consultation sessions were undertaken with the school council of Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg and the school parliaments of Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools.  Drop in sessions with council officers were also provided for pupils of the three secondary schools.  Workshops were held with the Vale of Glamorgan Youth Forum and the Vale of Glamorgan Youth Cabinet.

 

The Authority received 604 individual responses on the official response form by the closing date.  The Authority also received 15 responses from consultees not using the official response form.  The Authority received responses from the three Governing Bodies of the four schools included in the proposal.  The Authority received 753 individual responses through the young people's response form.  A petition signed by 60 pupils attending Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School was also received.

 

The consultation asked consultees to respond to four questions:

 

i.          Do you support the proposal to create a new mixed comprehensive community school through the amalgamation of Barry and Bryn Hafren comprehensive schools from September 2017?

ii.         Do you support the proposal to expand Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg to meet the increased demand for places?

iii.        Do you support the proposal, subject to funding, to relocate Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg to the current site of Bryn Hafren comprehensive school and the new mixed-sex comprehensive school to the current site of Barry comprehensive school, Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg?

iv.        Would your response to questions 1 and/or 2 change if funding was not available to create the two school campuses as described under question 3?

 

Of the 596 individual responses to question 1, 429 (72%) were opposed and 167 (28%) were in favour.  Of the 590 individual responses to question 2, 299 (50.7%) were in support and 291 (49.3%) were opposed.  Of the 595 individual responses to question 3, 488 (82%) were opposed and 107 (18%) were in favour.  Of the 583 individual responses to question 4, 503 (86.3%) said their view would not change and 80 (13.7%) said that their view would change.

 

Of the 696 young people's individual responses to the proposal to create a new mixed sex community comprehensive school 422 (60.6%) were opposed, 173 (24.9%) were in favour and 101 (14.5%) did not know.  Of the 685 young people's individual responses to the proposal to host the new mixed English medium comprehensive school on the current site of Barry Comprehensive School, Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg, 477 (69.9%) were opposed, 101 (14.7%) were in favour and 107 (15.6%) did not know.  Of the 180 young people's individual responses to the proposal to expand Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg, 54 (30%) were opposed, 86 (47.8%) were in favour and 40 (22.2%) did not know.  Of the 186 young people's individual responses to the proposal to relocate Ysgol Gyfun Bro Morgannwg and Ysgol Gymraeg Nant Talwg to the current site of Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School, 110 (59.1%) were opposed, 46 (27.7%) were in favour and 30 (16.1%) did not know.

 

Key concerns relating to the proposal centred on:

 

  • the size of the proposed English-medium school and its effect on standards of education;
  • lack of information about the transition period 2017-2020 for the English-medium school;
  • the location of the expanded Welsh-medium secondary school;
  • uncertainty of securing funding from Welsh Government;
  • concern that there could be less breadth of subjects on offer at Key Stage 3, GCSE and A level at the proposed English-medium school.

 

In light of the opposition to key aspects of the Council’s proposals, it appeared that it would not be possible to secure wide support to implement the current proposals on education grounds.  The response to the consultation also indicated that although the majority of respondents were not in favour of the proposal to establish a single sex English medium school through the amalgamation of Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools, a significant proportion of these did however support co-education and expressed a preference for Option 3, this being the provision of two separate English medium schools on separate sites and the expansion of Ysgol Bro Morgannwg on its current site. 

 

As a result, given the responses to the consultation, it had therefore been recommended to Cabinet that further work was now undertaken to consider whether there was merit in developing a revised proposal based on the principles of Option 3.  The consultation document attached at Appendix A to the report also included information about the current condition of the three secondary school buildings.  The condition of Barry Comprehensive School building was categorised as “poor” and the work required to address issues was more extensive than that required to the other secondary school buildings included in the proposals. 

 

At the Cabinet meeting on 5th October, the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools concluded that the council was committed to invest significant sums of money into education in Barry in the short term and further highlighted that a capital fund would be set up for Barry Comprehensive School for improvements. 

 

Cabinet subsequently resolved

 

“(2)     That it be agreed not to publish a statutory public notice but instead refer the proposal back to a new Barry Secondary School Transformation Board as set out in paragraph 27 of the report, to include the Director of Learning and Skills, with the aim of considering further proposals, having particular regard to principles contained within option 3, as outlined in the consultation document, for further consideration by Cabinet at a later date.

 

(3)       That in regard of resolution 2 above, delegated authority be granted to the Director of Learning and Skills in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Children's Services and Schools to establish a new Barry Secondary School Transformation Board.

 

(4)       That the development of a programme of work for Barry Comprehensive School be authorised to enable improvements to be made to the learning environment in the short term and that a further report on the proposed programme and estimated funding requirements be presented to Cabinet for further consideration in due course.”

 

In considering the report, a number of Members expressed their disappointment at the current proposals not being proceeded with for the children of Barry.  Their concern related to the delay in the provision for pupils and that they had heard that a number of respondents to the consultation had vested interests in the proposals and, queried whether as a result of that interest the implications for the children had not been fully considered.

 

The Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools (with permission to speak) stated that he and the Leader of the Council were committed to producing proposals in relation to the expansion of Bro Morgannwg before the Local Government elections in 2017and that further proposals in relation to Barry and Bryn Hafren would also be considered. 

 

A Co-opted Member made reference to the omission of St. Richard Gwyn as part of the secondary school transformation board but was advised by the Cabinet Member that the Diocese had informed the Council that they had limited funding to support proposals, which had required the Council to consider funding for the schools in the poorest condition.  The Cabinet Member stated St. Richard Gwyn was therefore not involved on the basis of a priority of need.  Barry Comprehensive school had also, through Estyn monitoring, been judged to require significant improvement and there were issues at Bryn Hafren in relation to raising performance for maths. 

 

The Chairman also raised the issue of other schools that had been highlighted by Estyn as having deficiencies, and in particular referred to Ysgol St. Baruc and the lack of catering facilities.  The Cabinet Member agreed to set up a meeting with the Headteacher to discuss the issue fully as soon as possible. 

 

With regard to any issues other schools may have regarding their buildings, the Chairman advised Members to write to the Cabinet Member / Director detailing the issues facing their schools.  In response, the Cabinet Member advised that to date the current Labour administration since his appointment had increased budgets to schools, established a Victorian Buildings Fund, adopted a winter-asset renewal programme and developed various one off projects and additional projects for a number of schools. 

 

In conclusion, the Cabinet Member stated that having considered all the representations, including the views of residents of the Vale and young people on the basis of the educational concerns raised as a result of the consultation, he confirmed that a new programme board would be established as outlined in paragraph 27 of the report and advised that further consultation would take place on any new proposals that were approved by Cabinet.

 

Following consideration of the Cabinet reference and report it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)     T H A T the resolutions of Cabinet be noted.

 

(2)     T H A T Cabinet be informed of the views of the Committee, as outlined above, and that Cabinet be urged to move forward with proposals to transform secondary education in Barry as soon as possible as any delay would have serious consequences for the children of Barry.  

 

(3)    T H A T Cabinet be requested to consider other schools where facilities were reported as deficient by Estyn with the request that a programme be devised to address such issues.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

(1)    In recognition of the contents contained therein.

 

(2)    In view of the Committees concerns regarding undue delay for the children of 

        Barry.

 

(3)    In order that a programme can be established to address deficiencies in schools as highlighted by Estyn.

             

 

498     GOVERNOR TRAINING REPORT 2014/15 AND UPDATE ON STRATEGIC APPOINTMENT OF LA GOVERNORS (DLS) –

 

The Chairman commenced by welcoming the report which had been requested by Councillor Ms. K. Edmunds and as a result of Scrutiny performance panel recommendations that an update on the strategic appointment of LA Governors and the training provided be presented to Committee.

 

The report noted that there were approximately 1,000 Governors managing 57 schools within the Vale of Glamorgan and that Governors play a key role in school improvement.  From September 2013, recent legislation had introduced mandatory training for school governors which covered Induction, Data, Chair and Clerk training and was a major focus of the Vale Governor Training Programme. 

 

The strategic appointment of LA Governors had been introduced in September 2014 to more effectively match Governors to vacancies on Governing Bodies via a skills analysis exercise. 

 

With specific regard to training provided to date a total of 30 courses had been held in 2014/15 which covered 11 different topics ranging from Chair training for experienced Governors to Induction training for newly appointed Governors.  All courses were run at the Civic Offices, Barry at no cost to participants and were delivered at various times, mostly during the evening to maximise attendance as many Governors work during the day.  Courses lasted around two hours each and whilst the method of delivery varied by course and trainer, interaction and sharing of good practice was positively encouraged to ensure the maximum benefit for attendees.

 

Appendix 1 to the report provided full details of the courses undertaken, attendee numbers and an analysis of the forms received.  The analysis of the completed evaluation forms indicated that a very high number of Governors rated the training (both mandatory and other topics) as either good or very good against each of the three questions asked on the form.  An example of the evaluation form was given at Appendix 2 to the report. As well as the training opportunities listed on Appendix 1 to the report, Vale Governors were also invited to attend "Good Governance" briefing sessions at Ty Dysgu during the Spring Term 2015 and the Annual Consortium Conference was held on Friday 6th March, 2015 at the Heronston Hotel in Bridgend.  However, as written evaluations for these events were not held they had not been included within the statistics in Appendix 1, although feedback from both events had been positive.

 

The report also highlighted that a more regional approach to Governor Support via the Central South Consortium had been in place since 1st April, 2014 resulting in.  Consultant Governors recently being appointed who will be deployed to work alongside governing bodies of schools in red and amber categories where required from September 2015.  Three experienced Vale Governors had also been appointed as Consultant Governors. Since September e- learning for all elements of the mandatory training was available to any Governors who could not attend training sessions.  Further briefing sessions for Governors were also to be held at Ty Dysgu during the Autumn and Spring Terms with further details would be circulated when available.  The Autumn Term sessions would cover the National School Categorisation System and implications for Governing Bodies.  The flyer for these events was on the Council's website alongside the training programme and all Governors had been emailed the link.

 

The revised policy for the appointment of LA Governors had been introduced to ensure a more strategic approach to these appointments by requesting schools with vacancies to complete a register of need and all applicants must now complete a skills register.  The Appointments Panel use a “map and gap” approach to ensure that the Governing Bodies of schools in greatest need are better supported with specific expertise and experience.  This was a more strategic and prioritised approach to LA Governor selection and one which was more sharply focused on the specific challenges faced by individual schools.  The Appointment of Local Authority Governor’s Advisory Panel had met twice since the introduction of the revised policy from September 2014, on 22nd October, 2014 and 25th February, 2015. 

 

The Local Authority, using its statutory powers of intervention, had also appointed two additional LA Governors to Eagleswell Primary School in July 2014 to be in place for the 2014/15 academic year. These appointments were made following the placement of the school in the Estyn category of significant improvement.  The school was removed from that category following an Estyn monitoring visit in February 2015.  The two Governors provided useful feedback to inform future appointments of this type.

 

The Head of School Improvement and Inclusion advised that it was too early on in the process to detail the impact of the new appointments process, although he could confirm that the appointments were being made having regard to the skills match and the detail provided on the evaluation form.

 

Members welcomed the report and the detail contained therein and noted that the report would be presented on an annual basis to the Scrutiny Committee.  However, a Member who had raised issues previously regarding Governor training although  welcoming the report, stated that they were aware from discussions that some Governors were largely unaware of the challenging role they had, and they hoped this would be rectified in the future by the training programme being offered.

 

Following consideration of the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the information on Governor training for the 2014/15 academic year and the update on the strategic appointment of LA Governors introduced in September 2014 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T a report on Governor training and an update on the strategic appointment of LA Governors be presented on an annual basis in September each year to the Scrutiny Committee.

 

(3)       T H A T Cabinet be advised of the contents of the report and the work being undertaken in relation to Governor training, which had been requested by the Scrutiny Committee.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In view of the contents contained therein.

 

(2)       In order that the Scrutiny Committee can ensure effective monitoring on an annual basis.

 

(3)       To apprise Cabinet.

 

 

499     QUARTER 1 LEARNING AND SKILLS PERFORMANCE REPORT 2015/176 (DLS) –

 

The report advised that the Department was well on track to achieve the objectives contributing to its service outcomes with 90% of actions currently either completed or on track during the quarter.  Of the 40 Actions, 5 had been completed, 31 were on track, and 4 had slipped during the quarter. 77% of Corporate Plan actions had been completed or were on track for completion (of the 13 Corporate Plan actions, 2 had been completed, 8 were on track and 3 had slipped in the quarter).  Of the 2 actions relating to the Improvement Objectives both were on track for completion.  There were 3 Outcome Agreement actions relative to the directorate, all of which were currently on track for completion.

 

Of the 20 performance indicators, 7 had met or exceeded target, 4 were within 10% of target and 9 had missed target by more than 10%.  There were also 5 Outcome Agreement measures for the directorate, 1 had exceeded target, 1 was within 10% of its target and 3 had missed target by more than 10% in the quarter

 

The four actions where slippage was reported were highlighted in paragraph 7 of the

report as below:

 

        LS/A150 (CP/LS9): In relation to undertaking initial skills assessments / diagnostics with learners enrolling onto courses over 10 hours, the Welsh Government had delayed its implementation of the initial essential skills assessments with learners.  This had also resulted in delaying progress in relation to LS/A151 in terms of tracking, monitoring and recording outcomes for adult learners using the initial assessment data as a baseline.

        LS/A189: Work relating to setting of targets for improvement in learner completion, attainment and success rates across the Cardiff and Vale Community Learning Partnership (CVCLP) to exceed the national comparator of 15% had slipped.  The national comparator was above the rate of improvement possible by the service and the CVCLP. The partnership needs to review the figure of 15% and set a more realistic monitoring measure. This would be discussed at the next partnership meeting during quarter 2.

        LS/A195: Increasing opportunities for adults to gain qualifications for their learning and improve the quality of the learning experience has slipped this quarter.  Since the academic year end 31st July 2015, there had been minimal learning activity during this period. Once the new term starts, new enrolments are expected which will bring us back on track.

 

The report also highlighted nine indicators that missed target as outlined in paragraph 8 of the report.

 

In recognising that the report related to first quarter performance the Scrutiny Committee subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

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

 

(2)       T H A T progress to date in achieving key outcomes as outlined in the Corporate Plan 2013-17 and the Improvement Plan Part 1 2015-16 be noted.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

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

 

(2)       To consider the quarter 1 Learning and Skills performance results as at 30th June 2015 in order to identify service areas for improvement work.

 

 

500     2ND QUARTER SCRUTINY DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND WORK PROGRAMME SCHEDULE 2015/16 (MD) –

 

Appendix A to the report set out the recommendations of the Scrutiny Committee with Members being requested to review progress against each recommendation and to assess whether further action may be required, ensure that the required action was undertaken and to confirm which recommendations were to be agreed as completed.

 

Appendix B to the report detailed the Scrutiny Committee work programme schedule, it being noted that the schedule was a proposed list of items for consideration and may be subject to change depending on prevailing circumstances.

 

Following verbal updates at the Committee by the Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer, in noting that Oakfield School had agreed to host the Scrutiny Committee meeting on 8th February, 2016, and discussions were ongoing with Ysgol Dewi Sant for a Scrutiny meeting to be held at the school on possibly 11th January, 2016, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the actions identified as completed as detailed at appendix and as a result of the information provided at the meeting be accepted as below:

 

20 July 2015

Min. No. 263 –   Regional Education Consortia: Reports by Estyn and Wales Audit Office (WAO)   (DLS) –   Recommended

(2)   That both reports be referred to Cabinet   for consideration.

 

 

 

Referred   to Cabinet meeting on 7th September 2015, which noted the   contents of the report and resolved that the WAO Audit report be forwarded to   the Audit Committee and resolved

[2]   That Cabinet receive regular update performance reports on the Central South   Consortium Action plan attached at Appendix 3 to the report.

(Min   No C2884 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 264 –   School and Community Based Counselling Service for Young People (DLS) – Recommended

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

 

 

 

Added   to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 265 – 1st   Quarter Scrutiny Decision Tracking of Recommendations and Work Programme Schedule   2015/16 (MD) –   Recommended

(2)   That the updated / amended work programme   schedule attached at Appendix B be approved and uploaded to the Council’s   website.

 

 

 

 

Work   programme schedule uploaded to the Council’s website on 11th   August 2015.

Completed

Min. No. 266 –   Scrutiny Committees’ Draft Annual Report – May 2014 to April 2015 (MD) – Recommended that   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.

 

 

Referred   to Full Council meeting on 28th September 2015.

Completed

07 September 2015

Min. No. 362 –   Children and Young People’s Services – Annual Placement Review (REF) – Recommended that   the contents of the report be noted, it being accepted that a review of the   service would be reported on an annual basis to the Scrutiny Committee.

 

 

Added   to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 364 –   Summary of School Inspection Reports for the Summer Term 2015 (DLS) – Recommended

(4)   That a letter of congratulations be   forwarded on behalf of the Scrutiny Committee by the Chairman to Stanwell   Comprehensive, St. Brides Primary and Victoria Primary Schools.

(5)   That the report be referred to Cabinet for   its consideration, highlighting the overall judgements for the schools   visited in the Summer term and the recommendations following the Estyn   monitoring visit to Barry Comprehensive School.

 

 

 

(4)   Forwarded to the Schools on 8th September   2015.

Completed

(5)   Referred to Cabinet meeting of 5th October,   2015, which resolved that the contents of the report be noted and that   Cabinet add their congratulations to Stanwell Comprehensive, St. Brides   Primary School and Victoria Primary School on their recent inspection   performance results.

(Min   No C2924 refers)

Completed

Min. No. 365 –   Review of Individual School Progress Meetings (DLS) – Recommended

(2)   That the Action Plan be monitored and   reviewed by the Scrutiny Committee in 12 months' time.

(3)   That all reports of School Progress Panel   meetings continue to be referred to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration.

(4)   That the review of individual school   progress meetings report be referred for consideration to Cabinet advising of   the lessons learnt in respect of the progress meetings that had taken place   to date.

 

 

 

 

(5)   That a programme be developed for   consideration by the Committee and Cabinet of Panels to take place to visit   schools referred to in paragraph 49 as    "coasting schools and high performing schools" in order to   identify and share best practice.

 

 

(2)   Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

(3)   Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

 

(4)   Referred to Cabinet meeting of 5th October,   2015, which resolved

(1)    That   the contents of the report be noted.

(2)    That   the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) be thanked for its ongoing work.

(3)    That   Cabinet will advise the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) on visits   requested as and when necessary.

(Min   No C2923 refers)

Completed

(5)   Further programme to be established   regarding “coasting schools and high performing schools”.  Added to work programme schedule.

Completed

 

(2)       T H A T the work programme schedule be amended to include:

 

  • the 8th February, 2016 Scrutiny Committee meeting to take place at Oakfield Primary School at 6.00 p.m.
  • the annual update on Young Carer Services to be presented to the Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 11th January, 2016
  • that the Governor training annual update report be added to the work schedule.

 

(3)       T H A T the amended work programme schedule be uploaded to the Council’s website.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1)       To maintain effective tracking of the Committee’s recommendations.

 

(2&3)  For information.

 

 

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