Agenda Item No.
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
CABINET: 9TH SEPTEMBER, 2013
REFERENCE FROM AUDIT COMMITTEE : 8TH JULY, 2013
174 JOINT EDUCATION SERVICE (MD) –
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.
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.
A 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.
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?
The Wales Audit Office's review of the governance arrangements of the Joint Education Service was attached at Appendix A to the report.
Overall, the WAO had concluded that at this early stage of implementation, the arrangements in place to manage the changes in school improvement services were still in the process of development, and the Council could not currently be confident that the JES was representing value for money for the Council.
The report concluded that:
· The Council’s plan for managing the change in delivery of the schools improvement Service needed to be strengthened.
· There was, currently, no formal, systematic means of testing whether or not the changes brought about by the introduction of the JES were working effectively.
· Monitoring and reporting arrangements were in the process of being established but had yet to be fully implemented.
· At a strategic level, work was needed to create a robust governance framework, particularly in respect of effective risk and performance management arrangements.
The report made a number of proposals for improvement.
During the discussion the Head of Democratic Services updated the Committee on progress towards the establishment of a Joint Scrutiny Committee in respect of the Central South Joint Education Consortium. Proposed Terms of Reference drawn up were to be submitted to the Council’s Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) in July. He also referred to the work which had been carried out with colleagues in the other constituent authorities regarding the submission of a bid for Welsh Government Scrutiny Development Fund assistance to employ a designated support officer for the Joint Scrutiny Committee.
(1) T H A T the contents of the report and, in particular, the proposals for improvement, be endorsed and referred to Cabinet for approval.
(2) T H A T a copy of the report be referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning), who be asked to consider the likely intended outcomes for the Joint Education Service.
Reason for recommendations
(1&2) To provide for review of the Wales Audit Office governance review of the Joint Education Service.
Attached as Appendix - Report to Audit Committee: 8th July, 2013