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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 14th March, 2016.

 

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

 

Co-Opted Member: Dr. C. Brown (Parent Governor – Secondary Sector) and Mr. P. Burke (Roman Catholic Church).

 

Non-Voting Observer: Mr. D. Treharne (Welsh Medium Education), Mr. N. Want (Vale Youth Forum) and Ms. T. Young (Secondary Sector).  

 

 

935     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillors Mrs. C.L. Curtis, T.H. Jarvie and A. Parker (Vale of Glamorgan Council); Mr. M. Conway (Vale Youth Forum) and Mr. L. Kellaway (Parent Governor – Primary Sector).

 

 

936     MINUTES –

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 8th February, 2016 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

937     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

Councillor C.P. Franks declared an interest in Agenda Item No. 7 Revenue and Capital Monitoring in that he was an LA school governor and, as his personal interest did not equate to a prejudicial interest, he was able to speak and vote on the matter.

 

 

938     CARDIFF AND VALE COMMUNITY LEARNING PARTNERSHIP –

 

Prior to the presentation, a Tutor Newsletter, a newsletter for Cardiff and Vale Learners, the Action Plan “Journey to Excellence” and a copy of the presentation was tabled at the meeting for Members’ information.

 

Mr. Phil Southard, Adult and Community Learning Manager, provided the Committee with details of the work of the Adult and Community Learning Partnership for the last 12 months.  He commenced by advising that following inspections in 2013, Estyn had returned to conduct a monitoring visit between 12th and 15th January, 2015 with the outcomes being :- 

  • improved success rates and accreditation for learners  - very good progress,
  • improved strategic leadership management and co-ordination of ACL -  very good progress;
  • review and revise the curriculum, improve the provision for developing literacy and numeracy skills – strong progress;
  • analyse data robustly and improve quality processes – very good progress;
  • improve the quality of teaching – strong progress;
  • improve the support available for learners – strong progress.

It had been expected that Estyn would conduct a full re-inspection of the Partnership 12 months later.  However, the previous judgements had been a very positive outcome for the Partnership and as a result Estyn had concluded that the Cardiff and Vale Community Learning Partnership had made such good and strong progress that they were confident that the Partnership would continue to improve and did not therefore need to carry out further monitoring visits or re-inspection.  Mr. Southard advised Committee that although no further visits were expected, it did not mean that the Partnership would be in any way complacent and had renewed efforts for further improvement through the action plan “Journey to Excellence”. 

 

Under the “Journey to Excellence” the following he stated would take place:

  • Achieve a Partnership success rate at or above the ACL national comparator in 2013/14, and an increase of 2% in 2014/15 (88%) and a further increase of 2% in 2015/16 (90%).
  • Produce and implement a marketing strategy which promotes ACL to priority learners.
  • Establish a baseline figure for the number of employment-related qualifications successfully completed across the Partnership.  Set and monitor annual targets for 2015/15 and 2015/16.
  • Develop and deliver Level 2 Volunteer Training for ESOL and ABE to provide in-class support.
  • Implement Course Performance Initiative to provide a mechanism for monitoring and managing underperforming courses.
  • Identify and pilot a model for judging value for money that is based on improved success rates and increased enrolments from priority learners.
  • Themes for cross partnership observations to include support ALN; use of ILPs; and embedding Essential Skills i.e. recorded in lesson plans, use of appropriate resources, use of literacy/numeracy marking schemes etc.
  • Production of regular learner and tutor newsletters.

Mr. Southard also took the opportunity to advise Committee of the grant increase of 2% that ACL had received which for 2016/17 would equate to an increase of £4,648.  A new Welsh for Adults contract had also been established for three years with Y Ganolfan Dysgu Cymraeg Genedlaethol and the following slide was presented to Committee for information:

 

Age Group

2014-15

 

Target

16 – 24 Years

101

3%

 

25 – 59 Years

1,018

31%

 

60+ Years

2,153

66%

 

Total No. of Enrolments

3,272

 

2,730

 

 

Fee Type

No. of Enrolments

%

Target %

Band A Full Fee

1,460

45%

30%

Band B Concession

1,812

55%

70%

 

In referring to other measurable improvements, Mr. Southard stated that the Vale ACL success rates for 2014/15 were 86.6%, the Partnership’s overall success rate was 92% and the increasing percentage of learners in deprivation deciles 1 and 2 had improved in the Vale from 10% to 35%.  Communities First area learners had increased from 6% to 34% and there had been a 20% increase in the percentage of male learners.

 

In welcoming the 2% funding increase, Members sought clarification on such use for this increase and were advised that it was important for the ACL to maintain its brand, that further work would be undertaken with Job Centres, Flying Start and Communities First and front line services.  Although anticipating that in the future the formula may change and regional partnership working was likely to be encouraged further the current work of the ACL was commended by the Committee with members also welcoming the work being undertaken in delivering services to Community First areas and the focus on need.

 

The Lead Officer for Youth and Community Learning advised that a tremendous amount of work had been undertaken through the Partnership and considerable effort had been made by staff which had resulted in the successes that were now being seen. 

 

The Chairman, in conclusion, advised that the good work being undertaken should be commended which was echoed by the Vice-Chairman and the Members of the Committee, with it subsequently being

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Committee’s congratulations on the success to date and the improvements being made on the “Journey to Excellence” be conveyed to staff.

 

(2)       T H A T an annual update on the work of the Cardiff and Vale Community Learning Partnership be added to the Committee’s work programme to be presented to the Scrutiny Committee on an annual basis for consideration.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To offer the Committee’s congratulations to the staff on the success of the Partnership to date.

 

(2)       In order that the Committee can be apprised of the work of the Partnership on an annual basis.

 

 

939     VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL ANNUAL SELF-ASSESSMENT (REF) –

 

Cabinet, on 8th February, 2016, had been provided with the strategic self-assessment of the Council’s performance for the period 2015-2016 that identified strengths, achievements, key challenges and areas for improvement. Self-assessments formed a core part of the statutory local government inspection processes in Wales.  Under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009, the Council was required to undertake a self-evaluation of all its services and use this information to inform planning for improvement. 

 

The Director of Learning and Skills, in presenting the reference and report stated that service plans would be created at Heads of Service level during February and March, with presentations to Scrutiny Committees in April by Directors and Heads of Service. 

 

The annual Council reporting framework for Social Services also required reporting annually on progress, outcomes and plans for improvement.  This would build on the Council’s internal assessment of performance.  Self-evaluation and reporting would also form the core element of Estyn’s Common Inspection Framework and annual self-evaluation.  The self-assessment report, detailed at Appendix 1 to the Cabinet report, demonstrated it was a refinement in the way annual performance was assessed.  The report moved away from a focus solely on service performance to one that incorporated aspects of governance, resource management and collaborative working for the Council as a whole.  It was intended that this provided a more balanced picture corporately of Council performance and the challenges being faced that would be used to inform future plans for improvement.  The report was based on the key themes of the Wales Audit Office’s Annual Improvement Report: Performance Management, Governance, Resource Management and Collaboration and Partnerships.  The report presented the strengths and the areas for improvement relative to each of these themes and draw upon an internal assessment of performance data, the Council’s Annual Governance Statement, Internal Audit reports, the Annual Improvement Report issued by the Wales Audit Office, and reports by other external regulators and service based information.  It also outlined the arrangements that were in place to support and identify any improvements in how the Council worked and delivered services.  Evidence sources were provided for each theme to support the judgements made.  This was detailed at Appendix D.  A summary of the Council’s key achievements to date in relation to the Corporate Plan was also provided at Appendix C.

 

Appendix A to the report contained individual self-assessments for each of the Council’s Directorates.  These provided an overview of performance over the past year against the 2015/16 Service Plans, which were written at a Directorate level.  The self-assessments contained a brief position statement and performance overview.  The self-assessment would then identify the key challenges, risks and priorities for services going forward into 2016/17. 

 

The purpose of the Annual Self-Assessment was to present an honest and balanced position statement on the Council’s performance over the past year in delivering its priorities in terms of achievement of outcomes for Vale citizens.  The Self-Assessment report also identified the Council’s key strengths, achievements, challenges and areas for improvement going forward. 

 

The Director advised of sections of particular note for Members as outlined below:

 

-         Position statement

-         Key service challenges and risks

-         Performance overview

-         Resource management which highlights the key cost pressures facing the Directorate

-         Directorate work force development themes for the coming year

-         Key areas of focus in relation to assets

-         Collaboration and priorities for 2016/17.

 

Members were further reminded that Service Plans would be reported differently in 2016/17 as in previous years the Self-Assessment had formed part of the Service Plan but in line with the proposed changes to the Council’s Performance Management Framework, this year the Council would be reporting the Self-Assessment separately to all the Scrutiny Committees in order to inform its improvement objectives, 2016/17 Service Plans as well as the annual work programmes of Scrutiny Committees.  By reporting the Self-Assessment separately, Service Plans would become more concise, focused and forward looking documents.  2016/17 Service Plans would comprise a brief overview of the challenges facing the service against each of the corporate health perspectives (risk, customer focus, resources, work force, finance, assets, ICT) and an action plan informed by the Self-Assessment. 

 

Following a query as to how the document would assist schools in the improvement agenda, the Director reiterated the view that the production of this corporate assessment would enable the Service Plan to be more concise and focused.  The Chairman, in response, advised that the document in his view was indeed more focused and in referring in particular to performance stated that the Committee recognised the issue of performance as one if it’s main responsibilities as well as other aspects, as outlined within the document. 

 

Following a query from a non-voting Observer as to the impact of the £5m savings on schools as detailed within the report, the Principal Accountant advised that the majority of the savings would be across the Council as a whole. The Head of Service for Strategy, Community Learning and Resources advised that the delegated schools budget had been increased year on year however, cost pressures like National Insurance contributions were having a significant effect on the original budget. 

 

A Member queried the budget for individual schools and being advised that the figures were available on the Council’s website a request was subsequently made for the link to the figures to be resent to all Members for their information. 

 

Following consideration of the Self-Assessment report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the use and contents of the Self-Assessment report as a basis for service planning for 2016/17 be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T the Council’s Annual Self-Assessment report and the Committee’s commitment to monitoring performance be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To meet the requirements of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 to undertake a self-assessment of all Council services and use the information as a basis to drive improvement.

 

(2)       In recognition of the work undertaken to date.

 

 

940     YOUNG CARER SERVICES: UPDATE REPORT (REF) –

 

The Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) had referred the report to the Committee at its meeting on 1st February, 2016 for consideration.  The report had provided an update on support services for young carers.  The background to the report advised that young carers were defined as children and young people under the age of 18 who had caring responsibilities for someone who had a physical or mental illness, a physical or learning disability or a drug or alcohol problem.  The person that they looked after may be a parent, a brother or sister, a grandparent or other relative.  They may provide practical or physical care, help with personal care, and assistance with domestic tasks and / or emotional support. 

 

It was further highlighted that regardless of age, all carers had the right to an assessment of their needs as a carer.  There was however no specific legislation which referred to young carers as a distinct category, although each Local Authority had a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in their area who were in need and to promote the upbringing of such children wherever possible by their families, through providing an appropriate range of services.

 

Where a child was providing a substantial amount of care on a regular basis for a parent, they would be entitled to an assessment of their ability to care and the Local Authority must take that assessment into account when deciding what community are services should be made available to the parent. 

 

Joint working arrangements had been established between the Cardiff and Vale UHB, the Vale of Glamorgan Council and Cardiff Council to meet responsibilities introduced by the Carers Strategy (Wales) Measure, especially in respect of improvement information to, engagement with, carers.  As a result, better support for young carers had been a key objective for this joint working. 

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council commissioned a Young Carers Project through Cardiff YMCA entitled “Time for Me”.  The service provided opportunities for young carers to participate in social activities, events and short breaks outside the school and home environment.  The service was jointly funded by the Children and Young People’s Partnership and by Social Services.  It builds on the previous delivery model by introducing more individual case work to support young carers to improve their educational attendance and attainment. 

 

The report advised that since April 2015 from Quarter 2, reports had shown that there were currently 47 young carers accessing the project, six of these had received one to one support in their home, 22 young carers had gained skills and a certificate by attending a sailing residential.  Evaluations to date showed a 100% positive feedback for the informal respite. 

 

Additionally, a fulltime Young Carers Project Worker for the Vale of Glamorgan had been working with the Council’s Carers Development Officer in delivering a series of young carer awareness raising presentations to practitioners across the statutory sector and other organisations. 

 

Staff from the Social Services Department had also been working with youth engagement workers from both the Vale and Cardiff, along with Cardiff YMCA, to consult with young carers. 

 

In November 2015, a group of young carers also came together from the Vale and Cardiff to hear an explanation of the aims of the Carers Measure and to discuss potential for further engagement.  As a result, 12 young people volunteered to be involved in the planning of a wider consultation, to include preparing and delivering a questionnaire, followed by a fun workshop to identify outcomes for statutory services to consider. 

 

It was hoped that this consultation would help establish a more regular dialogue between young carers, as a stakeholder group, and statutory services to help inform service delivery on an ongoing basis.

 

The Young Carers Project was a joint funded project between Families First and Social Services, with Families First contributing £40,000 per year until March 2017 and £10,000 was being made available from the Carers Service budget in Social Services.  Of note was the fact that the Carers Measure funding awarded by Welsh Government to the Vale and Cardiff for 2015/16 included a ring fenced sum of £11,800 allocated for young carers, however this funding would cease in April 2016 when the Measure would be subsumed into the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act. 

 

The Chairman commented that the report provided Committee with details of the current situation which outlined the good work that was being undertaken to date.

 

Another Member took the opportunity to request that the Committee ensures that the momentum for the issue was maintained, particularly in terms of the identification of young carers.  The Chairman, in response, stated that it was important that the Committee received regular updates on the work being undertaken, and as a result it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the work undertaken to support young carers in the Vale of Glamorgan to date be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) be thanked for referring the report for consideration and be advised that Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) would request that the update reports continue to be forwarded on an annual basis. 

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure that Members continue to exercise effective oversight of the important function being undertaken by the Social Services Directorate.

 

(2)       In order that further annual updates be presented for consideration.

 

 

941     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL 2015 TO 31ST JANUARY 2016 (DLS) –

 

The Principal Accountant, in presenting the report, advised that a graph and table setting out the variance between the profiled budget and actual expenditure to date was attached at Appendix 1.  Of note was the fact that there were significant pressures within the Inclusion Service in relation to inter-Authority recoupment, however, it was anticipated that the Learning and Skills Directorate could outturn within budget at the year end. 

 

In terms of Schools, the delegated budget relating to schools 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 £490k, but this amount could be offset by £66k funded from the Excluded Pupils reserves with an adverse variance of £424k being currently projected at year end.  An adverse variance on alternative curriculum placements of £66k was projected due to increased demand for the service, but this would be funded from the Excluded Pupils reserve.  With regard to inter-Authority recoupment, again an adverse variance of £456k was anticipated.  This had been as a result of increased demand for Vale pupils requiring placements in Ysgol y Deri which had resulted in fewer placements being available for other Authorities to purchase.  As in previous reports, Members were informed that the Directorate was seeking ways to mitigate the overspend as part of the longer term Reshaping Services agenda. 

 

For Service Strategy and Regulation, it was anticipated that this service would outturn with a £14k favourable variance due to efficiencies within the Business Support Section.

 

In terms of Strategy and Resources, a favourable variance of £408k was anticipated, which was reported as follows: 

  • favourable variance of £260k had arisen as a result of a rates refund due to the revaluation of school buildings, which had been backdated up to five years.  This underspend had been offset by the increased rates bill for St. Cyres of £161k.  There continued to be favourable variances on the transport budget of £211k, £37k on salaries due to part year vacancies, £30k due to payments to private nurseries as a result of a reduction in non-maintained nursery settings and other variances totalling £31k.  There were however significant pressures in relation to the Schools Long Term Supply scheme with an adverse variance of £278k anticipated and the Early Retirement and Voluntary Redundancy scheme was also projecting an adverse variance of £200k.  Both these overspends would be funded from the respective reserves. 

The Children and Young People’s Partnership was reporting a favourable variance of £2k due to a part year vacancy in the team and the Library Service was projecting to outturn within budget after a transfer from the Libraries reserve of £150k. The Youth Service was also anticipated to outturn within budget after a transfer of £3k from the Youth Service reserve. 

 

Adult Community Learning was anticipated to outturn within budget after a £94k transfer from the Adult and Community Learning reserve.  The overspend reported as 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. 

 

The Catering Service was anticipated to outturn within budget after a transfer of £187k from the Catering reserve which was to fund the final payment of the cashless catering system and the conversion of dining centres into kitchens in four primary schools.  In conclusion with regard to revenue monitoring, it was noted that the Arts Development section was anticipated to outturn within budget at year end.

 

Appendix 2 to the report detailed financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st January 2016 and the report detailed a number of proposed changes to the current Programme as highlighted in paragraphs 17 to 25 of the report. 

 

In referring to Sandstone Repairs detailed at paragraph 22 of the report, Committee was informed that these had now been incorporated into the Victorian Schools programme and would therefore be managed under this Programme for 2016/17.

 

The Chairman sought confirmation that the works at Ysgol Bro Morgannwg as outlined in Appendix 2 would be completed in the current financial year and was advised that there were no issues at present to believe that that would not be the case. 

 

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

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having been apprised of the position with regard to the 2015/16 revenue and capital monitoring relevant to the Scrutiny Committee.

 

 

942     QUARTER 3 LEARNING AND SKILLS PERFORMANCE REPORT 2015/16 (DLS) –

 

The Director commenced by advising that overall the Department was considerably on track to achieving the objectives contributing to its service outcomes, with 90% of actions currently either completed or on track during the quarter.  As outlined in the report, of the 40 actions, 11 had been completed, 25 were on track and four had slipped.  82% of the Corporate Plan actions had either been completed or were on track for completion, this equated to 11 Corporate Plan actions, two having been completed, seven on track and two having slipped during the quarter. 

 

The report also highlighted that the Estyn monitoring report of January 2016 had stated that the Council had made sufficient progress in relation to the recommendations made to no longer require Estyn monitoring. The Authority had been judged to have made very good and strong progress against the six Estyn recommendations.  Since the inspection the Department had worked well with headteachers, governors and the Central South Consortium to secure improvements which had led to targeted improvements in leadership, provision and standards in many of the Authority’s schools.

 

The Committee, in recognising the work that had been undertaken to date, subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the service performance results and remedial actions to be taken to address service underperformance for Quarter 3 be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the progress to date in achieving key outcomes as outlined in the Corporate Plan 2013-17, the Outcome Agreement 2013-16 and the Improvement Plan Part 1 20115-16 be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       Having considered the report and assessed the performance in line with the requirements to secure continuous improvement as outlined in the Local Government Measure (Wales) 2009.

 

(2)       In noting the progress to date in achieving the key outcomes.

 

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