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Agenda Item No 10

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Audit Committee: 8 July 2013

 

Report of the Managing Director

 

Joint Education Service

 

Purpose of the Report

1.            To advise members of the results of the review of the governance arrangements of the Joint Education Service.

Recommendations

1.             That Audit Committee consider the contents of the report and in particular the proposals for improvement be endorsed and referred to Cabinet for approval.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To provide for review of the Wales Audit Office governance review of the Joint Education Service.

Background

2.            In September 2012, a new Joint Education Service (JES) was established, to provide school support and traded services to the Vale of Glamorgan, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Bridgend Councils.  This development was driven by the need to reduce costs and to respond to the drive of the Welsh Government towards regional service provision.  Previously, the Vale of Glamorgan and Cardiff councils each had their own service, whilst the other three Councils shared a service, but within a less formal and more limited structure.

3.            As well as providing a more financially sustainable, regional offering, the JES was also designed to address a number of acknowledged weaknesses within the previous arrangements and these are set out in Paragraph 2 of the attached Appendix A.

4.            The review undertaken by the Wales Audit Office (WAO) sought to answer the question:

·               "Has the Council got arrangements in place to manage the changes in delivery of school improvement services and can it be confident that the JES provides a service that represents value for money for the Vale of Glamorgan".

5.            In examining this, the WAO also considered the following three sub-questions:

·               Does the Council have effective plans to manage the change in schools improvement service delivery?

·               Are the changes to the schools improvement service being implemented effectively?

·               Are monitoring and reporting arrangements in place to track implementation progress and manage any issues arising?

Relevant Issues and Options

6.            The Wales Audit Office's review of the governance arrangements of the Joint Education Service is attached at appendix A.

7.            Overall, the WAO has concluded that at this early stage of implementation, the arrangements in place to manage the changes in school improvement services are still in the process of development, and the Council cannot, currently be confident that the JES is representing value for money for the Council.

8.            The report concludes that:

·               The Council’s plan for managing the change in delivery of the schools improvement Service needs to be strengthened.

·               There is, currently, no formal, systematic means of testing whether or not the changes brought about by the introduction of the JES are working effectively.

·               Monitoring and reporting arrangements are in the process of being established but have yet to be fully implemented.

·               At a strategic level, work is needed to create a robust governance framework, particularly in respect of effective risk and performance management arrangements.

9.            The report makes a number of proposals for improvement.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

10.       Audit and inspection fees for the Council are met from existing budgets.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

11.       None as a direct consequence of this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

12.       The work performed is in accordance with statutory functions, the Code of Audit Practice and the Statement of Responsibilities issued by the Auditor General for Wales.

13.       The Council has a duty to improve under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009.

Crime and Disorder Implications

14.       None directly.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

15.       None directly.

Corporate/Service Objectives

16.       The Corporate Plan 2013/2017 outlines community leadership as a priority for the council.

Policy Framework and Budget

17.       This is a matter for executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

18.       Not applicable

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

19.       Corporate Resources

Background Papers

Appendix A: Wales Audit Office, Review of Governance Arrangements of the Joint Education Service.

Contact Officer

Alan Jenkins – Head of Accountancy & Resource Management

 

Officers Consulted

All relevant Officers have been consulted on the contents of this report:

 

Responsible Officer:

Sian Davies, Managing Director

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