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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 9 September 2013

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

Response to the Welsh Government's proposals for The Future Delivery of Education Services in Wales

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To provide Cabinet with an overview of the key themes in Robert Hill's report 'The future delivery of education services in Wales' and to agree the Council's response to the Welsh Government's consultation on the report.

Recommendations

1.         To note the executive summary of Robert Hill's report.

2.         To agree the draft response to the Welsh Government's consultation for submission by 13 September (do we need urgency arrangements to avoid call-in?).

3.         To refer the report to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) for information.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         The Hill report contains options for significant changes to the delivery of education that if implemented will introduce significant changes to the way that education is delivered in the Vale.

2.         The Welsh Government is consulting stakeholders including local authorities.

3.         Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) will wish to be aware of the proposals and the Council's response.

Background

2.         Cabinet received a report at their meeting on 3 December 2012 providing information about the planned review of the delivery of education services including the text of the ministerial 2012 announcement.  At that time the detailed scope of the review was not confirmed but it was evident that it had the potential to alter radically the Council's responsibilities for education and impact on the governance of schools, the Council's role as an employer and landlord, the services provided by the Council and budget and financial management that represent a significant proportion for the Council's spending.  The report also included the WLGA's response to the statement.

3.         At the meeting on 4 February, Cabinet received further information about the review including the appointment of Robert Hill and the aims, principles, process and outcome objectives and outputs of the review.

4.         Following meetings co-ordinated by the WLGA of Leaders and Cabinet Members responsible for education, a joint submission to the review was made by the WLGA on behalf of all local authorities.

Relevant Issues and Options

5.         Robert Hill's report was published by Welsh Government in June.  Whilst the media coverage focussed on the options for addressing the difficulties currently experienced by authorities judged unsatisfactory by Estyn, by reducing the number of education services by a third by April 2014, the report is wide-ranging.  It includes more than 80 options organised under the headings:

·           Options for improving classroom teaching and learning

·           Options for strengthening school leadership

·           Options for increasing school partnership within a context of greater autonomy

·           Improving accountability

·           Options for organising school improvement functions.

6.         The Executive summary is attached as Appendix A.  The Welsh Government are consulting on the report until 13th September.

7.         The wide-ranging options in the report seek to improve classroom teaching and learning by a system-wide set of changes including changes to classroom practice, school leadership and organisation, and changes to the arrangements for providing school improvement services.  Whilst some of the options refer to initiatives and developments which are already being delivered if, following consultation, the remaining options are implemented there would be very considerable change.  The chapter relating to the organisation of school improvement functions includes references to the current wider review of the delivery of public services : a definitive set of proposals about the organisation of the local authority's role in relation to education services would be linked to the wider review.

8.         A draft response to the consultation is attached as Appendix B.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

9.         There are no immediate financial implications as result of the publication of the report or the submission of the response.  However, if the options in the Hill report are all implemented there would be a number of significant changes including:

·           Increased delegation of responsibilities and budgets to schools including delegation to federations and 'hard clusters' of schools : the functions could include education welfare, provision to meet additional learning needs, human resource advice, business and financial management (these latter are substantially delegated in the Vale).

·           Allocating school capital funding through federations and hard clusters.

·           Increasing the standardisation of school funding formulae between local authorities and commission a study on the potential implications of a national funding formula for schools.  This could create winners and losers at individual school and at local authority level.

·           Top slicing revenue support grant to directly fund the regional school improvement consortia.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

10.      There are no sustainability and climate change implications identified in the Hill report.  The delivery of high quality education services is vital to the sustainability of local communities and the Welsh economy.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

11.      There are no legal implications arising from this report although the implementation of some options could require legislation or regulation by the Welsh Government.

Crime and Disorder Implications

12.      There are no crime and disorder implications arising from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

13.      There are no equal opportunity implications arising from this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

14.      People of all ages are able to access coordinated learning opportunities and have the necessary skills to reach their full potential, helping to remove barriers to employment.

Policy Framework and Budget

15.      This report is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

16.      Officer consultation only.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

17.      Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

None.

 

Contact Officer

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

Officers Consulted

Lynette Jones, Head of School Improvement and Inclusion

Paula Ham, Head of Strategic Planning and Performance

Huw Isaac, Head of Performance and Development

Clive Teague, Head of Financial Services

Sian Davies, Managing Director

CMT

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer