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URGENT BY REASON OF THE NEED TO ENSURE THAT CABINET MEMBERS ARE AWARE OF SIGNIFICANT AND RECENT DEVELOPMENTS WHICH WILL AFFECT FUTURE EDUCATION STRUCTURES WITHIN THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN

 

 

Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet meeting: 18th April 2012

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Education and Lifelong Learning

 

Central South Consortium

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To apprise Cabinet of the progress achieved in developing Education Consortia arrangements (the Central South Consortium (CSC)) to deliver a Joint Education Service on behalf of the five Authorities of Central South i.e. Bridgend, Cardiff, Rhondda Cynon Taff, Merthyr Tydfil and the Vale of Glamorgan.

Recommendations

That Cabinet:-

 

1.             Note progress.

2.             Endorse the actions taken to date and the proposals to establish joint Governance arrangements.

3.             Grant the delegated power to the Chief Executive in consultation with the Director of Legal, Public protection and Housing Services and the Director of Finance ICT and Property to make a decision on any matter relating to the CSC for reasons of urgency or due process.

4.             Request a further report on progress to be brought to Cabinet at the appropriate time.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1 and 2  To note the position

3          To allow appropriate progress in view of tight timescale for delivery

4          To update Cabinet

 

Background

2.             On 29th November 2011 a report was presented to Cabinet apprising members of the progress in developing the Central South Consortium.   Cabinet:

·               Noted the progress , and

·               Instructed the Director of Learning and Development to submit a further report on the implications for the Council of the draft business case and the Welsh Government response.

A copy of the report and Cabinet Minute (C1543) is attached as Appendix 1.

3.             On the 23 January 2012 the Director provided Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) with an update on Consortium development.  A copy of the Committee minute is attached as Appendix 2 (minute 812).

4.             On 29 February 2012 Cabinet considered the Leader's report on the Finance Proposals for the Revenue Budget 2012/13 (Cabinet Minute C1637).  Recommendation 2 (iv) stated that:

·               The Director of Learning and Development report to Cabinet at the earliest opportunity with the details of the transfer of the School Improvement Service to the Central South Consortium Joint Education Service including a comprehensive assessment of the financial, human resource, and risk implications for this Council.

5.             Members will also recall the Leader's report to Cabinet on 18 January 2012 on the Compact for Change between the Welsh Government and Welsh Local Government.  A copy of the relevant Cabinet minute (C1590) is also attached as Appendix 3.

6.             The Consortium is expected to achieve two key objectives through partnership working:-

·               To raise standards:

·               To sustain key services within available resources:

7.             Following the decision of Caerphilly to leave the current ESIS structure to join the South East Consortium and for Cardiff to leave the South East Consortium to join CSC, a business case was developed and presented on behalf of the five Central South Local Authorities to Welsh Government in November 2011.

8.             Following submission of the business case and presentation to the Minister by the Consortium Leaders and Chief Executives, considerable effort has been committed by staff across the five Authorities to create and ensure delivery of an operational model by September 2012.

9.             The key components of the new model are:-

·               A Joint Education Service fulfilling Local Authority statutory functions for School Improvement Services:

·               A high quality Data Service which will enable forensic analysis of pupil level data to inform and support monitoring and challenge processes:

·               Clearly defined Strategy Lead Officers to deliver national strategies [e.g. numeracy and literacy] and also local priorities:

·               A Consortium Traded Service providing high level support to Local Authorities and schools on a self-financing basis:

Relevant Issues and Options

10.        Current priority work streams to deliver this major project include:-

·               Joint Education Service final design:

·               School Improvement process design:

·               Traded Services modelling:

·               Management of Caerphilly departure assets/liabilities:

·               Staffing arrangements:

·               Teaching Associations/Trade Union consultation:

·               Governance arrangements design:

·               Communication consultation arrangements:

·               Financial modelling:

11.        The project management arrangements are supported by Rhondda Cynon Taff staff.  It has also been agreed that RCT will undertake holding Authority functions to provide Legal, Finance and HR support to the project.  The former Director of Learning and Development from the Vale of Glamorgan has been appointed as an interim Regional Director to establish the new organisation and interim Head of Traded Services has also been appointed.

12.        Staff from across the five Authorities are involved in detailed design work.  The project management arrangements include involvement of all Chief Executives in a senior stakeholder group chaired by the Chief Executive of Bridgend.  The Chief Executive Group is supported by the Local Authority Section 151 Officers.

13.        Headteachers are involved in a reference group reviewing design proposals and also in shaping the Traded Services offer.  Teaching Associations and Trade Unions are being consulted on progress and staff have been invited to briefing meetings.  School Governor representatives have also been briefed on the proposals.

14.        The five Authority Chief Executives have made clear their expectations that the Joint Education Service should have clear arrangements for governance which reflect a commitment to protect democratic accountability.  This will require the establishment of a Joint Committee to oversee the functions and the proposed stages up to June 2012 are as follows:-

·               Submission of report to each Local Authority that forms the CSC to inform Members of the proposals to establish a CSC Joint Committee.

·               Development of Constitution and Terms of Reference for the CSC Joint Committee.

·               Agreement of Constitution and Terms of Reference for the CSC Joint Committee by each respective Local Authority that forms the CSC.

·               Initiate contact with each representative Local Authority that forms the CSC to arrange nomination of Members to sit on the CSC Joint Committee.

·               Nominations and appointments for Members to sit on the CSC Joint Committee be made by each respective Local Authority that forms the CSC at their respective AGM's.

 

15.        Section 58 of the Local Government Measure 2011 outlines the considerations that will need to be given to Joint Scrutiny arrangements.  It is envisaged that guidance from Welsh Government will not come into force until late 2012.  Whilst this does not prevent Local Authorities establishing such arrangements, scrutiny activity taking place prior to this date would not have any legal power until the regulations are made.  It is not advisable, therefore, to proceed with such arrangements at this stage.

16.        The establishment of a robust and fit for purpose CSC Joint Committee will ensure that the interests of each respective Local Authority that forms the CSC are equally and democratically represented in the decision making processes of the new CSC.

17.        In order to achieve the challenging timescale and Welsh Government requirements it is recommended that delegated power be granted to the Chief Executive to make a decision on any matter relating to the CSC for reasons of urgency or due process.  It is also recommended that the progress be reported back to Cabinet at the appropriate time.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

18.        The resource implications of the Consortium arrangements are outlined in the business case. It is anticipated the Vale will achieve savings as a result of the Consortium arrangement.

19.        The draft Consortium Capacity Grant was received on 16th March.  The Welsh Government support for project development costs up to £1million is welcomed by all partners.  The Consortium was required to confirm acceptance of the grant terms urgently in order for the funding to be released.  The funding can be used to offer project costs already incurred and must be spent by end of August 2012.

20.        Proposals to allocate this funding were submitted following consultations with Section 151 Officers.  This has been accepted by Welsh Government and the funding has been released.  Chief Executives have agreed that RCT would act as the holding Authority for resource management purposes.  This means that Consortium procurement, audit and financial procedure are overseen by the RCT Section 151 Officer.

21.        it is the aim of the Consortium (CSC) to ensure that existing employees of the 5 Local Authorities and ESIS staff employed by Bridgend CBC, Merthyr Tydfil CBC and RCT CBC are fully aware of the proposals and to be engaged with Trade Union and Teacher Associations.  The CSC will conduct an Equality Impact Assessment as part of the change process.  The CSC business case has identified that the existing staffing levels within the 5 Local Authorities and ESIS will be reduced although the need for redundancy will be minimised wherever possible as part of the change process CSC has already actioned the "expression of interest" process for any staff who are eligible and wish to explore the possibility of VER, or alternatively VR for those who are not eligible.  Each LA has its own individual schemes which will apply in each case.

22.        Consultation with staff and their representatives has commenced, and has included the preparation and circulation of proposed organisation structures, job descriptions and person specifications to affected staff and Trade Unions and the opportunity to feedback upon these proposals.  Following the consultation period the proposals, including any amendments made through the consultative process will be implemented.  Recruitment is timetabled to take place in May and June of 2012.

23.        Initially staff appointed to the new posts will be allocated back to one of the five consortium Local Authorities, whereby staff will be recruited to a standard set of terms and conditions.  Longer term, the appointed staff will transfer to one host LA which will become the staff employer in law.  Employees who are unsuccessful with an application for a post and have not taken up the offer of VER or VR will return to their current Local Authority which will have the responsibility of dealing with the staff in terms of any redeployment opportunities.  Whilst Local Authorities will make every effort to find redeployment opportunities prior to the point of termination, each Local Authority will apply its own redundancy process to any displaced staff.

24.        Work is already underway to develop a draft risk register for the project which should be available by the end of this month.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

25.        The governance funding and organisational arrangements will be finalised in a Legal agreement to be agreed between the partner Authorities based on the principls attached as Appendix 4

26.        Scrutiny arrangements will be developed in accordance with the Local Government Measure 2011.

Crime and Disorder Implications

27.        None directly.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

28.        Implementation arrangements will be based on best equal opportunities practice and processes.

Corporate/Service Objectives

29.        This report is consistent with the Councils priorities for Education and Lifelong Learning.

Policy Framework and Budget

30.        This report is for a matter of executive decision by the Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

31.        Progress on the development of the Consortium has been reported to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning)

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

32.        Lifelong Learning

Background Papers

Previous reports to Cabinet and Scrutiny Committee as referred to in the report.

 

Contact Officer

Chief Executive

 

Officers Consulted

Director of Finance, ICT and Property Services

Head of Strategic Planning and Performance

Head of Achievement

 

Responsible Officer

Chief Executive

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