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Agenda Item No

 

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet : 8th April 2013

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

School and Community Based Counselling Service for Young People.

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To report to Members the results of a tendering exercise and to seek member approval to enter into a contract for the delivery of a School and Community Based Counselling Service in line with the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013.

Recommendations

1.             That. Cabinet consider the information provided, noting the positive impact of the service on young people since its inception, and request an annual update to Cabinet

2.             That Cabinet agree the procurement of the service and authorise the Head of Legal Services to execute a contract with the successful bidder.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To ensure Members are kept informed of the counselling service and its impact on young people.  

2.             To ensure contract standing orders and financial regulations are followed and that officers enter appropriate arrangements to procure and deliver a service.

Background

2.             Following the Clywch report in 2004, issued by the Children's Commissioner Peter Clark, a key recommendation was the establishment of a counselling service for young people.

3.             Following a broad consultation, the Welsh Assembly Government launched its National Strategy for School-Based Counselling Service for Wales in April 2008. The benefits to young people of such a service are well documented.

4.             During 2008 the Vale of Glamorgan was successful in its proposed model to deliver a counselling service. Following confirmation of the grant a full tendering exercise was undertaken, resulting in Barnardos Cymru Ltd being the preferred service deliverer.

5.             Funding allocated in 2008/09 was £42K, which has risen to £192K in 2012/13. The increase each year was in order to grow the service slowly and ensure all secondary and special schools received a service.

6.             The guidance ensures that all 8 mainstream secondary schools currently receive a service of either 1 or 2 days per week. Additional days are allocated for special schools, out of school provision and some primary provision.  The service also covers pupil referral units, those receiving home tuition and so forth.

7.             In 2012 the Welsh Government Education Minister confirmed that funding would be devolved within the Revenue Support Grant (from April 2013). The devolved funds, now slightly increased, have also expanded reflected a broadening of the remit to include provision for young people up to 19 years old.    

8.             In March 2013 the School Standards and Organisational (Wales) Act set in place a legal requirement for all local authorities to secure 'reasonable provision' for an 'independent counselling service' in respect of health, emotional and social needs.

9.             A multi-agency Management Board oversees development in the Vale of Glamorgan, including members of the Education Service, head teachers and members of the Local Health Board.

10.        The procurement exercise has now been conducted and a preferred provider has been identified.   

Relevant Issues and Options

11.        An open procurement process has been undertaken in line with the Council's Standing Orders and Financial Regulations to identify a suitable provider of a School and Community Based Counselling service (see Appendix 1), save that the tendering exercise was not reported to Cabinet beforehand for approval.

12.        Robust monitoring and evaluation systems remain in place to comply with Welsh Government requirements, and a Management Board will continue to oversee the service. The service will continue to report to Welsh Government as required and be part of any Estyn inspection that takes place of the local authority or individual schools.  Feedback from school staff and pupils has been very positive. 

13.        Over 300 young people have accessed the service in the last year with over 1500 sessions being attended. The main issues for referral (presenting issues) are often highlighted as family, anger and bullying issues. Predominant issues highlighted during counselling include family, pupil self worth and anger. 

14.        'YP-Core', a psychological tool used to measure stress levels of young people, shows a significant 10 point reduction in pre and post counselling intervention. 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

15.        Welsh Government has allocated funding, which is part of the Revenue Support Grant. The Learning and Skills Department seeks to utilise this funding to procure a service from May 2013 for £185,000 per year for 3 years (until May 2016).

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

16.        The Community Based Counselling Service contributes to the Sustainable Development principle of ensuring a Strong, Healthy and Just Society.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

17.        Under the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 local authorities are required to make reasonable provision for counselling services for registered pupils at secondary schools in their area, and for other young people aged 11-19 who belong to the local authority’s area.

18.        Inspections of local authorities are carried out under Section 38 of the Education Act 1997 which provides that Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education and Training Wales (HMCI) 'may, and, if requested to do so by the Secretary of State, shall, arrange for any local authority to be inspected'. Estyn’s Common Inspection Framework includes learner well being as a reporting feature.

19.        The inspectorate has powers relating to section 51 of the Children Act 2004, namely in co-operating to improve the wellbeing of children. 

Crime and Disorder Implications

20.        In delivering an effective Counselling service vulnerable young people are listened to, supported and helped to deal within their own issues, thereby reducing the risk of negative and anti social behaviour and reducing the risk of entering into criminal activity now and in the future.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

21.        Welsh Government guidance on the development of a universal counselling service will ensure all young people aged 11-19 have equal access to the service regardless of perceived need. 

Corporate/Service Objectives

22.        There is a commitment in the Children and Young People section of the Corporate Plan, under Safeguarding Vulnerable Children and Young People: "To increase access to counselling and advocacy services for children and young people, in particular with other agencies and on a regional basis where this is possible. (2013/14)"

Policy Framework and Budget

23.        This is a matter for executive decision 

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

24.        Not applicable

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

25.        Lifelong Learning

Background Papers

Procurement Process Appendix 1

Barnardos Cymru - School Based Counselling review 2012

Barnardos Cymru - YP Core review 2012

 

Contact Officer

Mark Davies, Children and Young People's Partnership Manager

 

Officers Consulted

Huw Isaac, Head of Performance and Development

Mark Davies, Children and Young People's Partnership Manager

David Davies, Head of Pupil Support Service/Principle Educational Psychologist

Operational Manager, Legal Services

Carolyn Michael, Senior Group Accountant

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

 

 

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