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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting : 30th July 2012

 

Report of the Leader

 

Central South Consortium for Education Services

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To update Cabinet Members on the progress achieved in establishing the Central South Consortium (CSC) Education Service.

Recommendations

1.             It is recommended that Cabinet considers the progress achieved.

2.             That Cabinet agrees the interim legal agreement attached as Appendix 1.

3.             That Cabinet receive a further report on the establishment of the Consortium in September 2012.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.      Members are aware of the position regarding the development of the Central South Consortium for Education Services.

2.      To enable the establishment of the CSC Education Service to progress pending finalisation of the full legal agreement.

3.      Cabinet is apprised of progress to date and any outstanding issues.

Background

2.             Local Authorities across Wales have agreed to establish Consortium arrangements for the delivery of Education Services.  In the first instance the focus has been on developing collaborative arrangements for the delivery of school improvement.

3.             The Central South Consortium comprises Bridgend, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Vale of Glamorgan Councils.  Cabinet received and endorsed a report on the establishment of the joint arrangements on April 13th 2011.

4.             In November 2011 the five authorities submitted a business case proposal to the Welsh Government to set up a Joint Education Service.  The Joint Service was in two parts.  The first, funded by Local Authorities will deliver the statutory school improvement activities on behalf of local authorities to monitor, challenge and intervene as necessary to raise standards in schools.

5.             The second part is a traded service providing training, development and support activities funded in the main through delegated school budgets, school effectiveness and pupil deprivation grants.

6.             The Business Case submitted by the Consortium was supported by Welsh Government.  In the interim period significant progress has been achieved in finalising organisational structures, operational design based on best practice and the HR, financial, legal, ICT, property and governance arrangements necessary to deliver the new model.

7.             This work has been progressed by officers of the five councils working in partnership (HR Officers, Section 151 Officers, Legal Officers, Education Officers and Chief Executives).  Progress was reported to Cabinet on 18th April 2012.  Headteacher and Governors have been kept informed on progress and extensive consultation arrangements have been established across the Consortia to ensure engagement of key stakeholders.

Relevant Issues and Options

8.             The design and operational processes for Monitoring Challenge and Intervention with schools has been completed and agreed between the authorities.  Schools will be subject to termly visits as a minimum, report profiles have been agreed and will be presented to Governing Bodies and Local Authorities.  School categories for support have been agreed and criteria drafted.  Casework services to manage Estyn Inspection processes, recruit Headteachers and fulfil obligation for professional development of staff have been drafted.  Arrangements to manage follow up visits and targeted support for schools in Estyn or Local Authority follow up categories are in place and the data and intelligence service necessary to ensure focus have been agreed.

9.             The model and components of the traded service arm have been agreed and a prospectus circulated to schools to encourage “sign up”.  The focus on national priorities is clear and a development system based on sharing of good practice between schools has been agreed.

10.        Extensive consultation with Trade Unions and Teaching Associations has underpinned a major and complex HR process to appoint staff to the agreed structures.  Posts have been filled on a ring fenced basis in the first instance in order to deliver the Local Authorities commitment to seek to avoid compulsory redundancies.  The process has been a particular challenge in circumstances where the number of posts has reduced and the skills and experience required for the future is markedly different from the post.

11.        Partners are currently developing Transition plan arrangements to ensure that key priorities and existing support structures for schools are delivered through the change process.  These plans will be concluded on Consortium, Local Authority and individual school levels to ensure effective transition (e.g. for schools currently in Estyn follow up categories or facing inspections in the Autumn Term).

12.        A model Governance structure has been developed as part of the Outline Business Case.  This is being refined through the legal agreement.  The expectation is that the direction of the Joint Service will be set and monitored by Elected Members of the five authorities working through a Joint Committee.

13.        Local Authority Legal and Finance Officers are working to conclude Legal Agreements to support the new organisation model.  The intention is to agree two documents:-

·               An interim legal agreement which will commit local authorities to a commitment basis for sharing costs of set up in circumstances where the resources necessary to deliver the new structure are not being provided equally between Councils.  The proposed legal agreement to allocate costs and responsibilities is attached as Appendix 1.

·               A formal agreement to support and sustain the Consortium in the longer term.  This is a far more complex document which will confirm accountabilities, governance arrangements and the apportionment of costs.  This document is currently in draft but has not been finalised by Legal Officers or Chief Executives.

14.        Local Authorities working in partnership have achieved significant progress in establishing Consortium arrangements. This progress needs to be maintained in the establishment of Governance arrangements and in concluding the necessary legal agreements.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

15.        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 arrangements.

16.        The draft Consortium Capacity Grant was received on 16th March.  The Welsh Government support for project development costs up to £1 million 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 cover project costs already incurred and must be spent by the end of August 2012.

17.        Proposals to allocate this finding 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.

18.        It is the aim of the Consortium (CSC) to ensure that existing employees of the 5 Local Authorities and ESIS staff who are 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 Voluntary Early Retirement (VER) or Voluntary Retirement (VR) for those who are not eligible.  Each Local Authority has its own individual schemes which will apply in each case.

19.        The recruitment process is nearing completion. In terms of the 9 Vale staff 'in scope' for phase 1 of the new service, 7 have secured posts with the CSC Education service, 1 has secured a post in a Vale School and 1 has secured a 2 year secondment with the Welsh Government. 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 Local Authority 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 apply their own redundancy process to any displaced staff, an in principle agreement has been reached that statutory costs relating to redundancy and the associated pension strain will be aggregated across the consortium and then shared on the basis of IBA).

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

21.        Each Local Authority will pick up pay protection for its staff where appropriate and in accordance with Local Authorities own policy.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

22.        None directly

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

23.        The governance, funding and organisational arrangement will be finalised in a Legal Agreement to be agreed between the partner authorities.

Crime and Disorder Implications

24.        None directly.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

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

Corporate/Service Objectives

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

Policy Framework and Budget

27.        This report is a matter for Executive decision by the Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

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

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

29.        Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

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

 

Contact Officer

Paula Ham, Head of Strategic Planning & Performance

 

Officers Consulted

Sian Davies, Director of Finance, ICT and Property Services

Lynette Jones, Head of Achievement

 

Responsible Officer:

John Maitland Evans, Chief Executive

 

 

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