Top

Top

SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 11th January, 2016.

 

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

 

Co-Opted Member: Dr. C. Brown (Parent Governor – Secondary Sector).

 

Non-Voting Observer: Mr. D. Treharne (Welsh Medium Education).

 

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

 

 

737     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillors Mrs. M.E.J. Birch, Ms. R. Birch and Mrs. A.J. Preston; Mr. L. Kellaway (Parent Governor – Primary Sector) and Mr. P. Burke (Roman Catholic Church).

 

 

738     MINUTES –

 

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

 

 

739     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

740     FEEDBACK FROM ESTYN MONITORING VISIT 2015 (DLS) –

 

For this item, the Committee welcomed Mr. Gerald Kerslake, Lead Safeguarding Officer and Mr. Tony Bate, Estyn Lead Inspector.

 

Mr. Bate began by advising the Committee that since the Autumn 2014, Estyn had undertaken a process of providing Scrutiny Committees with direct feedback of their findings following detailed inspection work.  He stated that although the inspection had concluded ongoing regular contact would be maintained with the Directorate as was the case for all Councils in Wales.

 

As a background summary, Mr. Bate advised Members that following the outcome of the inspection of the education service in May 2013, the Authority was identified as requiring Estyn monitoring.  Following this the Directorate developed a Post Inspection Action Plan, the purpose of which was to address the six recommendations made by Estyn.  Estyn’s first monitoring visit took place from 13th – 15th October, 2014 and a final monitoring visit took place from 16th – 20th November, 2015.  The visit during October 2014 had focused on two specific recommendations, these being Recommendations (2) and (6) which related to the level of challenge provided to schools and the arrangements for monitoring and evaluating the wellbeing of children and young people.  Previously, back in December 2015, against these two recommendations the Committee heard that good progress had been made. 

 

In terms of Estyn’s final monitoring visit in November 2015, the Committee heard that of the six recommendations, very good progress had been made in two, whilst strong progress had been made with the remaining four recommendations.  The Authority, therefore, no longer required Estyn monitoring.

 

The Committee was then provided with a summary of some of the key messages to have come out of the recent monitoring visit.

 

In terms of Recommendation (1) around the need to raise standards in schools at Key Stage 2 and 3, the Committee heard that strong progress against this recommendation had been made by the Directorate.  The performance of schools within the Authority at the Foundation Phase had remained relatively strong.  Over the last three years, the percentage of pupils achieving expected Outcome 5 had gradually improved, and at a similar rate of improvement to that of the Wales average.  Performance at the higher than expected level (Outcome 6) had also improved over the last three years. 

 

At the time of the inspection at Key Stage 2, the performance of schools was below average when compared to the performance of similar schools on the Welsh Government’s Free School Meal benchmark around which too few schools were in the top 25% or higher 50%.  The Committee noted that in 2015, there was a marked improvement, with the majority of schools now in the higher 50%. 

 

Overall performance in respect of Key Stage 3 showed consistent improvement over the last three years, the percentage of pupils achieving the Key Stage 3 core subject indicator had improved at a faster rate than the Wales average.  In 2012, three quarters of secondary schools had performance significantly below average in Key Stage 3.  In 2015, the performance of the majority of secondary schools was now above average when compared to similar schools, with half of the secondary schools in the top 25%. 

 

Since the inspection, there had been improvement in most of the Key Stage 4 indicators.  For example, the percentage of pupils achieving the Key Stage 4 core subject indicator had improved consistently, and this was the highest in Wales in 2015.  However, Estyn had noted that performance in 3 of the 8 secondary schools was below average in 2015 when compared to similar schools.

 

In terms of the performance of pupils entitled to Free School Meals, Members were advised that their performance had improved since 2012 although this was not always at the same rate as other pupils.  Since 2012, in the Foundation Phase and at Key Stage 3, the performance of pupils entitled to Free School Meals in the Authority had improved and the gap to those pupils not entitled to Free School Meals had narrowed. 

 

Estyn had also recognised that the performance gap between boys and girls had varied since 2012.  In Key Stages 3 and 4, boys’ performance had improved at a much faster rate than girls.  However, in the Foundation Phase and at Key Stage 2, the performance of girls had improved at a faster rate than boys.

 

With regard to Recommendation (2) and the need to improve the rigour and level of challenge provided to schools about their performance and quality of leadership, Members were advised that very strong progress had been made in addressing this recommendation.  Since the inspection, it was outlined that the Authority had worked well with headteachers, governors and the Central South Consortium to secure improvements.  These had led to targeted and worthwhile improvements in leadership, provision and standards in many of the schools in the Authority. 

 

The Committee noted that strong progress had been made in addressing Recommendation (3) around the use of the full powers available to the Authority to improve schools that were underperforming.  Estyn had recognised that the Directorate had used its powers well overall in order to improve schools that were underperforming.  During the inspection, Estyn had evaluated minutes from School Progress Panels and inspectors had noted that these were effective and did add value around challenging performance.   However, Estyn had reported that intervention at one primary school could have been earlier and Estyn considered that the Directorate should consider what aspects trigger formal intervention in primary schools.

 

In terms of Recommendation (4) which was around the need to make sure that planning for improvement was thorough and consistent throughout all services, Estyn had recognised that the Authority had made very good progress in addressing this recommendation.  The highlight within this recommendation was the Directorate’s plan which included a detailed review of the previous year’s outcomes.  Furthermore, Estyn had recognised an improvement around the planning of services within the Directorate which was carried out systematically, coherently and consistently.  The use of evidence by the Directorate was good and this led to the Directorate undertaking actions that were well informed and based on factual evidence.  In addition, it was noted that the Directorate measured performance well and that it was effective at monitoring school progress.  Estyn had found that the Directorate was outward looking and they had commended the Authority’s ambition to match the performance of similar Authorities within England. 

 

There was also a reflective culture within the Directorate, and this was evident through well designed processes for monitoring progress around the implementation of actions and assessing initiatives.  Esytn also reported that the Authority worked well with stakeholders, who effectively contributed to the development of service plans and so understand the future priorities of the Authority.  This was evidenced through regular team meetings, ongoing reviews, impact evaluations and thorough formal reporting mechanisms. 

 

In terms of Recommendation (5) around the need to ensure that robust systems were in place for evaluating the outcomes of initiatives to ensure that they demonstrated good value for money, it was noted that the Authority had made strong progress in addressing this recommendation.  Since 2013, the Directorate had improved how it evaluated the outcomes of its capital programmes, its education services and learner support initiatives.  Estyn had found that impact evaluation assessments were good and that the Directorate was effective at assessing the impact of any proposals.  Evidence also showed that the Directorate was able to make informed judgements about which initiatives should be supported or continued and which of these may need to be changed, reduced or decommissioned. 

 

With regard to Estyn's sixth recommendation which related to the need to strengthen arrangements for monitoring and evaluating the wellbeing of children and young people, the Committee heard that the Authority had made strong progress in addressing this recommendation. 

 

Highlights around this included the implementation of the Wellbeing Strategy that was now well embedded and had been revised to provide direction for the next three years. In addition, the Authority’s effective use of data and intelligence was recognised as was the development of school data packs.  Estyn had also found that the Authority monitored attendance effectively and Estyn had looked at how well the Authority had used the ‘Callio’ initiative to manage poor attendance.  Furthermore, the Committee was advised that the Authority has improved the work to reduce the number of young people not in employment, education or training and mention was made of how the Directorate had revised its safeguarding processes which now fell under the same monitoring arrangements.

 

A Committee Member commented that it would be useful for the Committee not to lose sight of the issues raised within the inspection and for the Committee to look again at this during the summer months.  The Member then raised a number of queries.  In reply to the Member’s first query, around how the inspection report related to three secondary schools in the Vale that required improvement, the Committee was advised that this was something that the Directorate and the Scrutiny Committee should pick up as specific areas to drill down into. 

 

The Member’s second query related to improvements observed around governor training.   Mr Bate responded by stating that Estyn had been able to engage with a number of governors and Estyn had wanted to hear their views on how well the Council worked with schools.  The Committee noted that Estyn had heard a lot of positive aspects around the training provided to governors and they noted that the information held by the Directorate was much clearer and easier to understand.  Overall, Mr Bate commented that Estyn had been happy with evidence it had seen.  Mr. Kerslake further advised the Committee that it was fair to say that Estyn had been able to collate a range of evidence around governor support from their visits to schools and they were provided with a balanced view that showed that improvements had been undertaken to address the Estyn recommendations. 

 

The Committee Member’s third query related to the performance of children with English as a secondary language.  In reply to this, Mr. Bate advised the Committee that this was not a specific area that the monitoring visit had focused upon.  This would however be something that was considered under Estyn’s first recommendation, which related to raising standards in schools.  Further to this query, the Director of Learning and Skills advised the Committee that Members would have been previously provided with a report on the Directorate’s progress against recommendation 1 which had included information about the attainment of learners for whom English is an additional language and pupils from minority ethnic backgrounds.

 

In response to a Member’s query regarding the gap in performance between boys and girls, Mr. Kerslake advised that it was important for the Directorate to analyse trends and patterns over a period of time as the performance of boys and girls could fluctuate between years and also within schools.  This was important in order to assess the impact of any extra provisions and resources that a school had allocated.  It was also important to understand that it had been generally observed that in some cases, where it was expected boys would outperform girls, the opposite could occur during certain years and therefor schools needed to understand the patterns around performance.   He confirmed that over time, the rate of progress for boys had improved and the gap had narrowed with girls, but it was worth looking back at previous year’s performance trends, especially between the single sex and mixed education schools.

 

The Chairman commented the he was pleased with the inspection report and the outcomes of the Estyn inspection.   He went on to query whether the use of Progress Panels was a good idea and whether the Panels should do more around the identification of best practice.  In reply, Mr. Bate stated that from what they had observed the Panels appeared to be working well and the Panels were an important part in helping to raise the bar of school improvement.  He went on to state that resources was also an important consideration and so it was important to ensure that the process was not ‘diluted’.   Mr. Kerslake added that the sharing of best practice may not necessarily require a ‘Panel’ and that as resources and the time of the schools was limited it would be important for the Scrutiny Committee to be selective and to focus on specific areas of improvement.  He also commented that there was a lot of intelligence and data available and it was important for the Council to make use of it and to consider areas of improvement in more depth.  As an example, he cited the effectiveness of school governing bodies as one area to possibly consider.

 

Further to these comments on the use of Panels and the identification and sharing of best practice, the Director of Learning and Skills indicated that a report would be presented once the process of school categorisation had been completed.

 

A Committee Member questioned whether the Estyn inspectors had identified any issues in how the Authority was working with Looked After Children.  In response, Mr. Kerslake advised that in terms of the education outcomes for Looked After Children, they were not in a position to make any direct comments.   One aspect that had been identified from working with other Local Authorities was the idea of providing work opportunities within the organisation for Looked After Children as would be the case for children and their actual parents.  This could be something that the Council could consider.  Further to this, the Chairman confirmed that the Committee had received update reports on Looked After Children in the past to which the Cabinet Members added that the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) would discuss this cohort of children in more detail. 

As a final point, the Committee was advised that further monitoring of the Directorate’s progress around implementing the Post Inspection Action Plan will continue as part of the main improvement planning process.

 

Having considered the report, the Committee

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Committee’s thanks be forwarded to the representatives from Estyn.

 

(2)       T H A T the Committee welcomes Estyn judgement that the Learning and Skills Directorate had made sufficient progress which has resulted in the Authority no longer requiring monitoring.

 

(3)       T H A T Estyn’s feedback letter and the comments of the Committee be referred to Cabinet in order to report the findings from the Estyn Monitoring visit.

 

(4)       T H A T the Committee’s thanks and appreciation be forwarded to staff as a result of the good work and the improvements made in addressing the recommendations of Estyn.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To offer the Committee’s thanks.

 

(2)       To highlight the work undertaken in respect of the Estyn inspection.

 

(3)       In order to update Cabinet of the Estyn inspection and the removal from Estyn monitoring.

 

(4)       To convey the Committee’s thanks and appreciation to staff for their hard work and dedication.

 

 

741     DRAFT CORPORATE PLAN 2016-20 (REF) AND PERFORMANCE MANAGEMENT FRAMEWORK (REF) –

 

The Chairman had decided that the references from Cabinet on the Corporate Plan and the Performance Management Framework were closely aligned and therefore, agenda items 5 and 6 could be considered at the same time.

 

For these items, the Managing Director presented the reports which advised that on 14th December, 2015, Cabinet had endorsed the draft Corporate Plan 2016-20 and had approved changes to the Council’s Performance Management Framework.  This was therefore the basis for both of these items being referred to all Scrutiny Committees for their comments. 

 

In April 2015 Welsh Government passed the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act and the new Corporate Plan had been developed to be closely aligned to this.  The Act placed a duty on Councils to carry out sustainable development which meant the process of improving the economic, social and cultural wellbeing of Wales.  The Act required the Council to set and publish wellbeing objectives by April 2017 that maximised its contribution to achieving the wellbeing goals which were attached as Appendix A to the report.  In addition, supplementary information on the Corporate Plan was attached as an appendix and this provided Members with an overview on which of the existing Scrutiny Committees would be responsible for scrutinising the proposed Corporate Plan actions. 

 

The draft Plan, attached at Appendix B to the report, had been drafted in parallel with the Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP).  The priorities for the next four years had been developed in full recognition of the financial climate and achievability of the actions associated.  There was also recognition that in light of future budgetary decisions, there would be a need to review and potentially amend the Plan.  Increasingly, the Council would need to work with its partners and communities to identify alternative ways of delivering services.

 

The draft Plan contained a revised vision and set of values for the Council.  The vision was for the Vale of Glamorgan to have “strong communities with a bright future”. The values were described as ambitious, open, together and proud. 

 

The Plan had been drafted to ensure the Council’s contribution to the well-being goals was demonstrated and had taken account of a range of performance and engagement information to ensure it reflected what customers and partners were telling the Council.  The proposed wellbeing outcomes being:

 

•           An inclusive and safe Vale

•           An environmentally responsible and prosperous Vale

•           An aspirational and culturally vibrant Vale

•           An active and health Vale.

 

The Committee was advised that for each of the four wellbeing outcomes there would be two wellbeing objectives together with a series of actions. These outcomes, objectives and actions would be reviewed through the consultation process

 

The Plan also stated the Council’s approach to integrated strategic planning and recognition of the need to have robust arrangements in place.  This was followed by details of actions linked to the internal workings of the Council which would be instrumental in ensuring that there were foundations in place to promote sustainable development.  The Plan concluded with details of how the Plan would be monitored.

 

In terms of the Performance Management Framework, the relevant Cabinet report outlined that the Council had a strong performance management track record which had been evidenced in previous Annual Improvement Reports (AIR) by the Wales Audit Office.  However, the recent AIR for 2014/15 identified the following two proposals for improvement:

  • P1 Refine performance reporting arrangements to ensure data was presented in a way that provided a balanced picture of performance and of the outcomes being achieved
  • P2 Improve reporting so that cross-directorate / cross-service activity was considered in the context of delivery of priorities rather than completion of service-based actions.

The Council’s Performance Management Framework (PMF) set out the way in which the Council undertook performance management across the Council.  This Framework enabled the Council to regularly asses, report and scrutinise performance in order to support continuous improvement of tis activities.

 

The PMF brought together the Council’s key planning, monitoring and evaluation processes through an integrated suite of documents.  These included the Community Strategy, Corporate Plan, Service Plans, Team Plans and Personal Development Plans and demonstrated the contribution made at a variety of levels of the organisation to the Council’s priority outcomes. 

 

The report outlined that the Corporate Plan would be monitored on a quarterly basis by an overall corporate health scorecard report and supplemented by specific quarterly reports for each of the four wellbeing outcomes. 

 

“Corporate Health” would be illustrated from a number of perspectives:

 

•           Performance against wellbeing outcome / objectives

•           Resources (finance / savings, people, assets and ICT)

•           Customer focus and risks. 

 

Future reports would incorporate a Red, Amber and Green status for each of the wellbeing outcomes to give a snapshot of overall progress.  A brief position statement would be provided for the quarter covering the wellbeing outcomes and corporate health performance overall.  A brief summary of achievements by outcome would be provided as well as areas of underperformance / key challenges across the corporate health perspectives being highlighted with remedial actions to address these going forward.  These quarterly overview reports would be presented in a dashboard / scorecard format designed to make the information contained in it as accessible as possible. 

 

The report outlined that four quarterly wellbeing outcome and objectives scorecard reports would demonstrate progress against each of the wellbeing outcomes and associated objectives.  Informed by performance data collected from Service Plans, these reports would demonstrate the cross-cutting nature of the well-being outcomes and draw together evidence from the wide range of service areas involved in completing the various actions associated with each well-being outcome.  A brief position statement from the sponsoring Director would be provided for the quarter.  A brief summary of achievements by objective would be provided and areas of underperformance / key challenges highlighted, including a description of any remedial actions required to address these going forward.

 

These proposed developments included amending the Scrutiny Committee structure from May 2016 to align it with the well-being outcomes of the Corporate Plan.  It was proposed that the Terms of Reference for the existing “service based” Scrutiny Committees be reviewed to reflect the Council’s four well-being outcomes and to support the cross-cutting nature of the new Plan.

 

In addition to the four well-being outcome-based Scrutiny Committees, the existing Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) would be replaced with a committee responsible for Corporate Resources and Performance.  In addition to this, the Council would therefore have the following Scrutiny Committees in operation:

 

•           An Inclusive and Safe Vale Scrutiny Committee

•           An Active and Healthy Vale Scrutiny Committee

•           An Environmentally Responsible and Prosperous Vale Scrutiny Committee

•           An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale Scrutiny Committee.

 

The proposals were not merely a change in the name of Committees, but rather they represented a refocusing of scrutiny activity on the way in which the Council’s actions were delivered against its intended outcomes.  Quarterly wellbeing outcome and objective reports would be reported to the relevant committee, with the overall corporate scorecard report being presented to the Corporate Resources and Performance Committee.

 

A Committee Member queried why the Council had decided to renew the Corporate Plan.  In response, the Managing Director commented that the need for further development of performance management was acknowledged and had also been highlighted by external auditors.  It had been acknowledged that the Council had been good at monitoring a wide range of performance indicators, but it had been recognised that there was a need to understand why performance monitoring was important.  To illustrate this, he cited the example of Disability Facilities Grants and he stated that it was important to monitor this, not because the Council could deliver the service in a particular timescale but more because this helped people to live more independently.  He explained that the proposals represented a step up from simply monitoring indicators and asking how these performance indicators actually impact on outcomes. 

 

In reply to a Member’s question regarding reports being presented to more than one Scrutiny Committee, the Managing Director advised that the new arrangements would seek to limit dual reporting and would result in each Committee having a particular focus.  He once again highlighted the area of Disability Facilities Grants in which performance monitoring had been undertaken by three Scrutiny Committees, which was being viewed as unnecessary, especially following the improvements made in recent years.  He also stated that the proposals being discussed were specific to performance monitoring and that each Committee would still have control of its forward work programme and Committees would still be able to look at specific topics in the same way. 

 

With regard to the work programme, the Chairman commented that there was opportunity to consider the way that information was reported to Scrutiny which would allow the Committee to focus on the more important areas such as school performance.

 

A Committee Member indicated that he welcomed the proposals but he did have some reservations about the names of the future Scrutiny Committees.  He asked whether subtitles could be added to give the public a better understanding of what each Committee was responsible for.  In reply, the Managing Director explained that some of the names were more straightforward than others.  For example, an Active and Healthy Vale was relatively easy to understand.  Furthermore, the names related, in part to the Wellbeing of Future Generations (Wales) Act from which the same terminology had been used.  He also advised that the names could be looked at again along with the specific actions for which each new Committee would have responsibility for scrutinising.

 

The Committee also heard that other Local Authorities, both in Wales and England, were heading in the same direction and developing similar performance arrangements which reflected a more outcome-based focus.  In addition, to this, the Head of School Improvement and Inclusion commented that, from his perspective, the new arrangements would be welcomed.  He added that the proposals would improve clarity and that it was important to remember that children were not just within schools. 

 

In considering new areas of responsibility, the Committee noted that the Art Strategy would, if the proposals were agreed, come under the remit of the new Committee.  This would mean that the Cabinet Member would also have responsibility for this area and overall, the Director of Learning and Skills would be the lead officer for the new Committee.

 

Finally, the Chairman queried the style and format of the new well-being scorecard reports, to which the Managing Director advised that the outcome based scorecards would replace current arrangements for service plan monitoring.  He went on to state that where the big difference would come was in relation to the monitoring of progress against the wellbeing outcomes and the actions contained within the objectives.  The information would contain detail on how the service was contributing to the two objectives within the Committee’s remit and if there was a particular area of work that was not, or where performance was not acceptable the relevant service officer would be brought to the Committee and called to account accordingly.  Work on the scorecard reports was still ongoing.

 

Having considered the Corporate Plan, the Committee

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the Corporate Plan be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the views of the Committee, as outlined in the minutes, be forwarded to Cabinet.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       So that Members are aware of the revision and changes to the Corporate Plan.

 

(2)       To inform Cabinet of the Committee’s view and suggested amendments to the Corporate Plan as part of the consultation process.

 

 

With regard to the Performance Management Framework, the Committee

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the proposals for changes to the Council’s Performance Management Framework be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the views of the Committee, as outlined in the minutes, be forwarded to Cabinet.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       That Members are aware of the proposed changes to the Performance Management Framework.

 

(2)       To inform Cabinet of the Committee’s views and suggested amendments to the new Framework.

 

 

742     PROPOSAL TO AMALGAMATE CADOXTON NURSERY AND CADOXTON PRIMARY SCHOOLS AND EXTEND THE AGE RANGE OF CADOXTON PRIMARY SCHOOL FROM 4 TO 11 TO 3 TO 11 YEARS (REF) –

 

Cabinet, on 14th December 2015, had approved a report which requested to consult stakeholders on proposals to create a 3 to 11 year primary school through the amalgamation of Cadoxton Nursery and Cadoxton Primary Schools. 

 

A previous report requesting approval was considered by Cabinet on 19th October, 2015.  At that meeting, the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools tabled a statement from the Chair of Governors of Cadoxton Nursery School, and in light of the tabled information, the report was deferred for further consideration of the proposals.  These reports had been revised in response to comments put forward in the statement. 

 

The Cabinet report advised that over the past ten years the Council had sought to move towards a primary school model for 3 to 11 years education by amalgamating separate infant and junior schools where there had been an opportunity to do.  Cadoxton Primary School was established following the amalgamation of the infant and junior schools in 2002.  At that time it had been decided that the nursery should not be included as part of this process of amalgamation.  In the light of experience in other primary schools which had nursery classes, the development of the Foundation Phase curriculum and continuing pressures on the schools’ budget, the report suggested reconsideration of this decision should be made. 

 

The report stated that the proposal would provide the following benefits: 

  • The establishment of a single leadership team and governing body which would result in the removal of duplication of management and governance functions.
  • The streamlining of management and administrative functions, as well as the ability to arrange joint contracts and service level agreements for building and other support services that would result in available funding being utilised more effectively.
  • Duplication of specialist posts such as Additional Learning Needs Co-ordinator and Child Protection Officer would be removed enabling more effective use of resources.
  • Where parents had children of both nursery and primary ages, amalgamation of the nursery and primary school would make it easier to engage with parents, parents would therefore only need to familiarise themselves with one set of policies and one set of communications.
  • An amalgamation would enable strengths present in the existing separate schools to be combined and contribute to the already high quality provision offered at both schools.  A consistent education philosophy would be put in place for children for up to nine uninterrupted years of education, thereby minimising the potential for disruption during the transition from nursery to the school.
  • There would be consistent behavioural management strategies resulting in clear expectations and a shared ethos which would be understood by parents, children and carers throughout the primary and early years’ stages.
  • The provision for pupils with Additional Learning Needs (ALN) would continue to be identified at an early age.  The proposal would support a co-ordinated approach to planning for the needs of vulnerable pupils across the Foundation Phase.
  • The proposals would provide staff with continuing professional development opportunities by enabling them to gain experience in al “all through” Foundation Phase and Key Stage 2 school thereby improving their career options.

The report further advised that changes should not have any negative effect on the children at any stage of their education at the school.  At this very early point, it would provide them with a consistent approach to their learning which would follow them all through their time at the school and would help them to understand their place within the school family. 

 

There were two options for amalgamation.  One option was to close both the nursery school and the primary school, which was the approach taken in relation to the proposals to amalgamate Eagleswell and Llanilltud Fawr Primary Schools in Llantwit Major.  A new governing body for the school would be established which would decide the staffing structure for the new school, including appointments to the post of headteacher. 

 

An alternative option would be to extend the age range of one school and discontinue the other, this could be achieved either by extending the age range of the primary school or the nursery school.  This was the preferred option.  The proposal therefore outlined that the amalgamation was to extend the age range of Cadoxton Primary School, with the substantive headteacher of the primary school to continue as the headteacher of the newly amalgamated school.  It was likely that the staff of the nursery school would be assimilated into the primary school.  The governing body of the primary school would continue as the governing body of the amalgamated school and could elect to increase its membership from 14 members to 18 which could include members from the governing body on the nursery school.  The report advised that there would not be any need to realign the catchment area of the primary school as a result of this proposal, the catchment area of the nursery and the primary school were coterminous. 

 

The Chairman in considering the proposals stated that the report was thorough and was factually based.  He also made mention of the School Surplus Places report which had made similar recommendations.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Scrutiny Committee fully supports the Cabinet proposal to amalgamate Cadoxton Nursery and Primary School by extending the age range of Cadoxton Primary School from 4-11 to 3-11 years.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In light of the potential benefits of amalgamating Cadoxton Nursery and Primary School.

 

 

743     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 30TH NOVEMBER 2015 (DLS) –

 

The Principal Accountant presented the report, the purpose of which was to advise the Scrutiny Committee of the position in respect of revenue and capital expenditure for the period 1st April to 30th November, 2015. 

 

Members were advised that it was anticipated that the Learning and Skills Directorate would outturn within budget at year end.  A graph and table setting out the variance between the profiled budget and the actual expenditure to date was attached at Appendix 1 to the report. 

 

For Schools, the delegated budget was expected to balance as any under / over spend would be carried forward by schools.

 

For School Improvement and Inclusion, the service was projecting an adverse variance of around £688,000, however, this amount could be offset by £67,000 funded from the Excluded Pupils reserves and therefore and adverse variance of £621,000 was currently projected at year end.  The adverse variance on alternative curriculum placements of £67,000 was projected which was due to an increase in demand for the service, however, this would be funded from the Excluded Pupils reserve.  An adverse variance of £457,000 was anticipated on inter-Authority recoupment income.  Increased demand for Vale pupils requiring placements in Ysgol Y Deri had resulted in fewer placements being available for other Authorities to purchase.  An adverse variance of £197,000 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.  An adverse variance of £20,000 was due to increased numbers of pupils accessing the Pupil Referral Unit.  These overspends would be offset by a favourable variance of £53,000 on staffing costs and other income.  The Directorate was seeking ways to mitigate this overspend as part of the longer term Reshaping Services agenda.

 

Other service areas reported as follows.

 

Service Strategy and Regulation – it was anticipated that this service would outturn with a £11,000 favourable variance due to efficiencies within the Business Support section.

 

Strategy and Resources – this service was anticipating a favourable variance at year end of £598,000.  A favourable variance of £240,000 had arisen as a result of a rates refund due to the revaluation of school buildings, which had been backdated up to five years.  There continued to be favourable variances on the transport budget of £225,000, £54,000 on salaries due to part year vacancies, £49,000 due to payments to private nurseries as a result of a reduction in non-maintained nursery settings and other small variances of £30,000.  However, significant pressures in relation to the Schools Long Term Supply Scheme were noted with an adverse variance of £221,000 anticipated.  The Early Retirement and Voluntary Redundancy Scheme also projected an adverse variance of £200,000.  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 £12,000 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 £698,000 per annum, with any favourable variance on debt repayments being directed into the Schools Investment Strategy.

 

Libraries – this service was projected to outturn within budget after a transfer from the Libraries reserve of £103,000 to fund one off costs in relation to the implementation of the Libraries Review.

 

Youth Service – it was anticipated that this service would outturn within budget after a £13,000 transfer from the Youth Service Reserve.  This additional expenditure would be used to fund engagement work in schools.

 

Adult Community Learning – it was anticipated that this service would outturn within budget after an £85,000 transfer from the Adult and Community Learning reserve.  This overspend was due to redundancy and notice payments to staff, which had arisen as a result of reductions in funding from Welsh Government and the Cardiff and Vale College.

 

Catering – this service was anticipated to outturn within budget after a transfer of £221,000 from the Catering reserve.  This transfer from reserve would fund the final payment of the cashless catering system and the conversion of dining centres into kitchens in four primary schools.

 

Arts Development – it was anticipated that this service would outturn within budget at year end.

 

Attached at Appendix 2 to the report was a statement showing the progress made to date against the 2015/16 Capital Programme, with reference being made to the following areas: 

  • Penarth Library Damp Proofing – it had been requested that this scheme be renamed “Penarth Library Damp Proofing and Lift Works” to allow damp proofing work to be undertaken.
  • Llantwit Learning Community – the Vale of Glamorgan Council had received £41,479 as its share from surplus fees following costs associated with managing the South East Wales Schools Capital Working Group Framework.  It had been requested that the Llantwit Learning Community budget be increased by this amount with funding being used towards the main works carried out within the Learning Community.
  • Overboarding Ceilings – the virement of £97,000 to the Sandstone Repairs budget.
  • Victoria Primary External Refurbishment Works – an underspend of £50,000 be vired to the Sandstone Repairs Budget.
  • St. Helen’s Infant School Works – an increase to the Capital Programme by £28,531.
  • Rhws Primary Guttering – Emergency Powers had been used to increase the scheme budget by £22,000.
  • Llanfair Demountable – Emergency Powers had been used to increase the scheme budget by £69,000.

Appendix 3 to the report provided non-financial information on capital construction schemes with a budget of over £100,000.  Where a budget shown in Appendix 2 was more than £100,000 but was made up of several schemes that individually were less than £100,000, the scheme was not included in Appendix 3.

 

A Committee Member queried how a saving of £221,000 had been made within the Transport Budget.  In reply, Members were advised that specific details for this would be sent via e-mail.  The Director of Learning and Skills also advised that savings within this budget had been reported in previous years and that a lot of the good work in this area would be down to the efforts of the new Integrated Transport Unit. 

 

With regard to the use of £103,000 from the Library Reserves, the Committee heard that this related to implementation of the Library Review and costs associated with staff reduction for which the Council had made a decision to implement changes in one single step.  Members were also advised that a report on proposals for community libraries would be shortly presented before Cabinet.  It was therefore anticipated that reserves would be utilised to support those groups interested in running a local library service. 

 

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 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Committee endorses the Cabinet decision around the use of emergency powers to increase the capital budgets for Rhws Primary school and Llanfair Primary school.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

(1)       So that Members are aware of the position with regard to the 2015/16 revenue and capital budgets.

 

(2)       To endorse Cabinet’s decision to use the emergency powers procedure.

 

 

744     SUMMARY OF SCHOOL INSPECTION REPORTS FOR AUTUMN TERM 2015 (DLS) –

 

The Head of School Improvement and Inclusion advised that Wenvoe Playgroup and Albert Primary School had been inspected during the Autumn term 2015 with a summary of the inspection findings for each of the named school / playgroup appended to the report. 

 

The report advised the school inspections were governed by the Education Act 2005 and related regulations.  The purpose of inspections was to: 

  • Provide accountability to the users of the services and other stakeholders through public reporting on providers
  • Promote improvement, education and training
  • Inform the development of national policy by Welsh Government.

The report advised that the overall judgement achieved by the Vale of Glamorgan schools which were inspected was as follows:

 

 

Current Performance

Prospects for   Improvement

Albert Primary

Excellent

Good

Wenvoe Playgroup

Good

Good

 

When undertaking the inspections, Estyn recognised the unique position to showcase some of the excellent practice identified across the education and training sectors that it inspects.  One way it did this was by asking schools in which it had identified excellence to write case studies, outlining how excellence had been achieved in identified areas.  Following recent inspections, Vale schools had produced the following case study:

 

School

Case Study

Albert Primary

“Pupils Shape Their   Curriculum”

 

During the Autumn term 2015 Estyn monitored Llanfair Primary School and Barry Comprehensive School.  The results being:

 

School Name

Overall Judgement

Outcome

Barry Comprehensive

Satisfactory Progress   against 2 recommendations and limited progress against 4

Placed in Significant   Improvement

Llanfair Primary

Strong Progress against   4 recommendations and Very Good Progress against 2 recommendations

Removed from follow-up   activity

 

The details of the progress in each of the progress made against each of the recommendations was provided at Appendix 3. 

 

The Vale of Glamorgan also had two schools in Estyn monitoring, namely Bryn Hafren Comprehensive and Wenvoe Playgroup.  In addition, three schools were monitored by the Local Authority.  These were Albert Primary, Romilly Primary and Y Bont Faen Primary.

 

Appendix 4 to the report provided an overall summary of Estyn activity for the period September 2015 to December 2015.

 

The Chairman in referring to the identification of schools with excellent practice queried whether a report on this would be provided to the Committee.  In response, the Head of School Improvement and Inclusion explained that the termly report to Scrutiny on inspection outcomes, always highlighted any excellence identified by Estyn.  This together with the forthcoming report on the outcomes of national categorisation and previously reported school performance data would help inform the Committee and facilitate the identification of good practice that they may wish to learn more about.

 

The Cabinet Member added that Cabinet had approved an additional £900,000 for Barry Comprehensive School.  He explained that this money would help implement some parts of the school’s Post Inspection Action Plan and would be used as a capital spend on both internal and external building works.  In querying the progress of improvement made within Barry Comprehensive School, the Director of Learning and Skills advised the Committee that the summer inspection by Estyn took place before an improved set of GSCE results were published.  Estyn had therefore considered the school’s results and benchmarking from 2014 and the Director indicated that Estyn’s outcomes may have been different if the latest results had been available although it was not possible to be certain about this.  Furthermore, and in terms of intervention at the school, the Director explained that following the formal warning letter, additional Governors had been appointed, she therefore assured Members that all powers of intervention were being used.  She also made mention of the support that was being provided to the school, which included the work of School Challenge Cymru and the mentoring role provided by Treorchy Comprehensive School.  She further stated that a lot was in place and that the Directorate was working closely with the school from which encouraging signs had been observed.  She finally added that the Directorate would continue to monitor, challenge and support the school. 

 

Further to the Director’s comments, the Cabinet Member explained that the issues around the culture within Barry Comprehensive School had not been a new thing and that this was something that had been inherited by the new Headteacher.  He commented that both the Head and the Chair of Governors had challenged the culture and that a new ethos had been brought into the school.  He went on to state that improvement had been made within the school which he believed was sustainable. 

 

A Committee Member, in querying the improvement recommendation around providing a daily act of collective worship, was advised that limited progress had been made by the school.  This was because the strategy around daily worship had been developed but had not been fully implemented.  The Head of School Improvement and Inclusion was able to confirm, that since Estyn had carried out its inspection, he had been to the school and had witnessed that daily worship had taken place.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the inspection judgements about schools inspected during the Autumn term be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the judgements made by Estyn in its monitoring visits with regard to schools in the Local Authority be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T the judgements made by Estyn with regard to schools in Local Authority monitoring be noted.

 

(4)       T H A T a letter of congratulations be forwarded on behalf of the Scrutiny Committee by the Chairman to Albert Primary School.

 

(5)       T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet for its consideration, highlighting the overall judgements for the schools visited in the autumn term.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1-3)    In order that Members are aware of Estyn judgements about local schools.

 

(4)       To offer the Committee’s congratulations.

 

(5)       For Cabinet’s consideration.

 

 

745     3RD 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’s recommendations and to confirm the updated/amended Work Programme Schedule for 2015/16.

 

Appendix A to the report detailed progress to date for the 2nd Quarter July - September 2015, Appendix B showed progress for the 3rd Quarter October - December 2015 and Appendix C outlined the Work Programme Schedule for the work of the Committee for the forthcoming months. 

 

With reference to Appendix B and the Committee’s recommendation from 12th October, 2015 around School Progress Panels, the Scrutiny Support Officer advised the Committee that a revisit to Barry Comprehensive School would take place during the final week of February 2016 and was in the process of arranging visits to St. Richard Gwyn and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools. 

 

The Scrutiny Support Officer also advised Members that in regard to the Committee’s recommendation around the Welsh Public Library Standard that Cabinet had received the report on 11th January, 2016 and Cabinet had agreed that a further report addressing the issues raised by the Committee would be provided over the forthcoming months.  The Committee agreed that this action would remain ongoing until the findings of the report were presented.

 

Finally, the Committee was advised that following discussion at the previous Agenda Conference it had been agreed that reports concerning engagement with Young People Not in Education, Employment, Training or School would be presented at the Committee’s meeting set for 8th February, 2016 as would an update on the report on the Barry Elim Church ‘Can Do Project’. 

 

Having considered the report the Committee

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the actions identified as completed as detailed at Appendices A and B 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

 

(3)   That the WAO report be referred to the   Audit Committee.

Referred   to Audit Committee meeting on 21st September 2015, which

RESOLVED   – T H A T a further report be brought before a future meeting of the Audit   Committee outlining:

(i)   The Vale of Glamorgan Council issues for   the Audit Committee to consider;

(ii)   Central South Consortium issues for the   Audit Committee to consider;

(iii)   How the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Audit   Committee related to Rhondda Cynon Taf’s Audit Function in relation to the   Consortium.

(Min.   No. 404 refers)

Completed

 

12 October 2015

 

Min. No. 494 –  Corporate Safeguarding Update (REF) – Recommended

 

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

 

Added   to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 495 – Revenue   and Capital Monitoring for the Period 1st April to 31st   August 2015 (DLS) – Recommended

 

(2)   That 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.

 

Added   to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 496– School   Performance Report 2014-15: Foundation Phase and Key Stages 2 to 5 (REF) – Recommended

 

(3)   That 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.  

 

Added   to work programme schedule.

Completed

Min. No. 497– Proposal to   Transform Secondary Education in Barry (REF) – Recommended

 

(2)   That 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. 

 

Cabinet,   on 16th November, 2015, resolved that the contents of the   reference be noted, and that Cabinet take on board the concerns raised in   resolution 2 of the same.

(Min.   No. C2970 refers)

Completed

(3)   That 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.

Cabinet,   on 16th November, 2015, resolved that the contents of the   reference be noted, and that Cabinet take on board the concerns raised in   resolution 2 of the same.

(Min.   No. C2970 refers)

Completed

 

Min. No. 498 – Governor   Training Report 2014/15 and Update on Strategic Appointment of LA Governors   (DLS) –   Recommended

 

(2)   That 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.

 

Added   to work programme schedule.

Completed

(3)   That 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.

Cabinet,   on 16th November, 2015 noted the changes in the appointment of   Governors and the Governor training requirements, including the progress made   so far.

(Min.   No. C2969 refers)

Completed

 

Min. No. 500 – 2nd Quarter   Scrutiny Decision Tracking of Recommendations and Work Programme Schedule   2015/16 (MD) – Recommended

 

(2)   That 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.

 

Work   programme schedule amended.

Completed

(3)   That the amended work programme schedule   be uploaded to the Council’s website.

 

Work   programme schedule uploaded to website.

Completed

9 November 2015

 

Min. No. 572 – Letter to   All Chairs of Scrutiny Committees in the Central South Consortium – Recommended

 

(2)   That the Scrutiny Committee’s work   programme be amended to reflect the attendance of the Managing Director and   representatives of the Central South Consortium to Scrutiny Committee   meetings in January of each year.

 

Work   programme amended.

Completed

Min. No. 573 – Local   Authority Education Services for Children and Young People Inspection Report:   Fourth Progress Report (DLS) – Recommended

 

(1)   That   following the Estyn monitoring visit in November 2015, any further report by   Estyn be referred to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration.

 

Added   to work programme schedule.

Completed

7 December 2015

 

Min. No. 651 – Initial   Revenue Budget Proposals 2016/17 (DLS) – Recommended

 

(2)   That the Cabinet be requested to give   consideration to making available an additional £4m revenue funding   specifically for secondary sector schools in the Vale of Glamorgan and to   increase the Education Revenue Base budged by this amount in future financial   years.

The   Committee’s comments were tabled at the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate   Resources) meeting on 8th December 2015, being the Lead Scrutiny   Committee. 

Scrutiny   Committee (Corporate Resources) recommended

(1)   That    no action be taken with regard to the recommendations from the   Scrutiny Committees (Social Care and Health) and (Lifelong Learning) in view   of the cost pressures facing the Council overall and as the details of the   financial settlement from WG had not yet been received.

(Min   No 660 refers)

Completed

 

 

(2)       T H A T the Work Programme Schedule be uploaded onto the Council’s website.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

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

 

(2)       For information.

 

 

Share on facebook Like us on Facebook