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Agenda Item No.

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 17TH JUNE, 2013

 

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING) – 23RD MAY, 2013

 

 

“           NEETS PROVISION IN THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN (CLSO) –

 

The Committee received a progress report on NEETs provision in the Vale which provided an update on developments with young people in both the Vale of Glamorgan and at a national level.

 

NEET levels for 16-18 had steadily been improving year on year both locally and nationally.  This was in contrast with the levels of NEET 19-24 which had been increasing due to the economic climate and its well publicised affect on youth unemployment globally.  It was therefore crucial that the Authority developed and improved training and employment opportunities for those young people in transition between full time education and work to thus attempt to reduce the continuing increase in the level of post 18 NEET.

 

A Youth Service Welsh Government Revenue Grant was currently being reconfigured to have a direct focus on those young people deemed at risk and to help reduce the number of NEETs in the Vale.  The Youth Service was currently developing working arrangements with schools to provide early intervention strategies for young people who are at risk of becoming NEET. Young people were identified in Years 8 and 9 by the school on attendance levels, behaviour, attitudes to learning and emotional literacy.  Support for schools was flexible and was driven by the needs of the learners.  The purpose of the intervention was to provide ongoing support for young people and to prevent them dropping out of mainstream provision and becoming NEET.  Through a partnership with Urdd Gobiath Cymru, support for Welsh Medium schools was also available.

 

Many young people aged 16-24 were NEET due to isolation and lack of services in rural areas.  Employment options, education services, training providers and Careers Advisors were based in the Barry area and transport costs for young people make accessing these services difficult.  Mobile provision was being developed to take information, advice and guidance (IAG) to young people in their communities.  The mobile service (VPOD) would be used in partnership with Job Centre Plus, and Careers Wales to engage with young people and provide IAG and links to education, training and employment services.

 

The 14-19 Network had been responsible for work which had been very significant in providing increased choice and progression opportunities for hundreds of learners in the Vale, helping to reduce the number of young people not engaged.  This included college courses shared and mixed classes in schools, expanding volunteering opportunities, extended work experience and pre and post 16 Learning Coach support.  From April 2013 this funding was being allocated on a regional basis rather than locally, a small increase in additional funds for provision and support had been secured for 2013-14.  However the future sustainability of this funding was uncertain beyond 2013/14.

 

Withdrawal of the above funding would have an effect on learners as some 2 year courses may not be able to be completed due to funding ceasing part way through periods of study.  The funding also supported two Learning Coach roles, one of whom intervenes pre 16 and directs young people at risk to alternative education other than school and one post 16 who was seconded to CW and worked directly with young people aged 16-19 identified as economically inactive.  It was reported that the support given was very successful, however the uncertainty of the future of 14-19 funding raised the question of whether this essential function and service could be sustained in the future.  Welsh Government had however not yet announced any indication on the way forward or offered any solutions to the issue. 

 

Many Families First funded projects support the work with NEETs. These included Gateway to Engagement (25-35 students per year) and the Partnership for Young Parents which targeted young mothers (15 per year) and was run in partnership with Flying Start.  The transition from Cymorth to Families First funding had changed the way the funding could be used and had led to a move away from individual projects to working around a whole family.

 

Through Communities First funding several initiatives had been approved to deliver targeted work within the cluster areas, the three main themes were: Learning Communities, Prosperous Communities and Healthy Communities. Within Learning Communities, 3 projects would commence to help target those not in education, employment or training.

 

The report stated that the Statutory Youth Service had a key role to play in its diverse project and centre based work which allowed formal and informal work with all young people with a specific emphasis on young people at risk.  In addition, the Youth Service had re-established a Youth Provider Network (YPN) with the aim of sharing information resources and expertise to provide a collaborative approach to addressing the NEET issues.  The Youth Service administered, developed, monitored and supported the network and helped ensure a more joined up approach to youth support services across the Authority.

 

With regard to the Education Welfare Service Members were reminded that the EWO’S addressed education and non-attendance issues and were based  in schools.  The Alternative Learning Support Programme Co-ordinator supported young people into appropriate learning provision with one of five local training providers and the officers identified and targeted those at risk pre 16, and have had a positive effect in significantly reducing the number of non-attendees.  In response to a query regarding whether the Council had sufficient education and welfare officers in place to deal with absenteeism and lateness etc., the Chief Learning and Skills Officer advised that the Council did not tackle the issue on its own.  The department worked with schools in order to tackle attendance and whilst noting that attendance and unauthorised absence data that was gathered needed improvement, particularly in primary schools she assured Members that the Council was committed to working with schools and to the use of EWOs to best effect. 

 

Following the presentation of the report a Member referred to the issue under paragraph 10 as to what support was in place that was driven by the needs of the learners.  In response Committee was advised that mobile provision provides a means to assist with engaging with pupils and a number of courses had also been made available, particularly in relation to behaviour issues.  There were also a number of bite size learning activities that took place which were referred to as learning by stealth with pupils having the opportunity to work on their literacy and numeracy skills. The Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme provided support for pupils in respect of life skills.

 

Following consideration of the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the progress to date, the reduction in the numbers of NEETS and the measures for further improvement be noted. 

 

(2)       T H A T six monthly progress updates on NEETs provision in the Vale of Glamorgan be presented to the Scrutiny Committee and the work programme be amended accordingly.

 

(3)       T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet for information advising of the  measures contained therein to secure further improvement.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       For Members to be aware of the priority being given to preventing young people in the Vale of Glamorgan from becoming NEETs and the framework responsibilities..

 

(2)       Members considered that six monthly reports were more reasonable than quarterly.

 

(3)       For information and or consideration.â€

 

 

Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning): 23rd May 2013

 

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