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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 21 October 2013

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

Central South Consortium Joint Education Services

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To seek agreement to the legal agreement for the Joint Education Service (JES) and the provision of a Learning and Innovation Network for Schools (LINKs).

Recommendations

1.         That Cabinet agrees that the legal agreement in relation to JES be executed by the Head of Legal Services.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To enable the proper operation of the Central South Consortium Joint Education Service (CSCJES) following the expiry of the interim agreement.

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 CSCJES comprises Bridgend, Cardiff, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Vale of Glamorgan Councils. 

4.         The Joint Service is in two parts.  The first (JES), funded by Local Authorities delivers the statutory school improvement activities on behalf of local authorities to monitor, challenge and intervene as necessary to raise standards in schools.  The second part (LINKs) is a traded service providing training, development and support activities funded in the main through delegated school budgets and school effectiveness and pupil deprivation grants.

5.         Cabinet received a report in April 2011 about the principle of establishing a joint service and in July 2012 agreed an interim legal agreement.

Relevant Issues and Options

6.         The purpose of the Joint Education Service [JES] is to provide a School Improvement Service for the local authority areas of Cardiff, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taff and the Vale of Glamorgan, in order to deliver statutory school improvement activities on behalf of the five authorities to secure rising standards in schools.  The service will do this by providing all schools with an annual performance review and a package of further challenge, support and monitoring where performance issues are identified by the service itself, the local authority or Estyn.  The JES will develop a common strategy; support for key curriculum areas, work with Estyn and schools on pre- and post- inspection reports are the hold a single view of performance data for the parties so that an overall improvement strategy can be developed.

7.         Rhondda Cynon Taff as host authority will provide all support services needed for this service, the cost of which will be charged to the Central South Consortium by way of Service Level Agreements.  Rhondda Cynon Taff will employ staff; liability in relation to staff employed by the Joint Education Service will a cost to the Central South Consortium to be apportioned between the authorities.

8.         Financial Contributions and Liabilities will be based on the respective portion of the relevant Indicator Base Assessment (IBAs).  In relation to the Vale for year 2013/14, that represents 14.79%.  That arrangement is to be reviewed every three years.

9.         In terms of governance there is to be an Executive Board the purpose of which is to support the Director of the Consortium ensure that the strategies of the Central South Consortium align with the needs of the five authorities to raise educational standards, in short, to manage and oversee the JES.

10.      The Operational Management Group’s objective is to develop and support operational delivery of the Central South Consortium improvement activities and to raise educational standards.  This comprises of the Director and the Central South Consortium and Heads of Service. 

11.      The Central South Consortium Joint Education Committee will be the joint committee for the JES (and for the learning and development of schools (Links)).  It will consist of two elected members from each of the authorities; each authority having one vote, together with one senior officer representative who is responsible for education in each authority.  This committee will, on behalf of the parties, have all the powers of those parties with reference to the provision of the Joint Education Service and performance.  Decisions will be passed by majority vote but in the event of there being an equal number of votes, the Chair will have the casting vote. The terms of reference of the committee will be to agree the draft Joint Education Service annual budget, promote partnership working, receive progress reports on performance targets and service delivery.  The committee will also approve the statutory Council Agreement of any deficit of any service which is part of the Joint Education Service.  Its role is also to agree the apportionment of grants between the parties and to formally agree the appointment of the Director and any permanent increase to the staff.

12.      Financial contributions will be from each party for its share of the agreed annual budget and, as indicated above, are based on the respective proportion of the relevant Indicator Based Assessments of each party for that financial year (the arrangement reviewable on a 3 yearly basis).  It is important to note that the Joint Education Service is not authorised to operate nor budget for an overall deficit position. 

13.      There will also be a separate Central South Consortium Joint Scrutiny Committee to determine in particular whether the JES is in fact resulting in added value in making consortium schools outstanding places for learning, teaching and achievement, and generally monitoring the effectiveness of the arrangements.

 

14.      The Joint Education Committee will decide on how any deficit that does arise will be made good.  The Joint Education Committee is not authorised to incur capital expenditure nor to authorise any long term contract of a period greater than 2 years.  The Joint Education Committee must approve the annual accounts within statutory deadlines. 

15.      Any party seeking to withdraw will need to give 2 years notice and will remain liable in line with the IBA agreement which is referred to above for any financial or other obligation incurred during the period as a party to the agreement, including any redundancy costs associated with scaling down of requirements and the making good of any pension deficit.

The Links Agreement

 

16.      The purpose is to provide a discretionary service at cost by offering an innovative approach through sharing best practice between schools which will be offered through the circulation of a prospectus to schools including a range of programmes that are designed to meet national priorities and local and school needs.

17.      The service is to be fully compliant with the School Effectiveness Grant; Welsh in Education and Pupil Deprivation Grant funding criteria; the core function will be to develop high quality professional learning for teachers and also for school leaders who will be invited to become co-founders and will provide an initial financial investment to draw down Links services.

18.      Those schools that are not co-founders will have the opportunity to access Links on a non-discounted ‘pay as you use’ basis.  The Links Board of Management group objective is to provide a steer for the strategic direction of the service and then to provide support to the Head of Links and to agree priorities for Links to address the needs for schools in the Consortium.

19.      The Joint Education Committee will be the joint committee also for Links.  The Joint Education Committee’s terms of reference are described above.

20.      There is a financial protocol for the financial/administrative/accounting systems and associated support for the Joint Education Committee and Links.  In accordance with the agreed Service Level Agreements the Links Service will seek to recover all costs, fees and charges levied to Service Users and through specific service grants. 

21.      In the event that a deficit does arise it will be for the Joint Education Committee to deal with the matter.  In the event that a deficit position cannot be resolved, proportional contributions will be based on the IBAs as indicated above with a three year review of the basis of apportionment.  The Joint Education Committee will agree an actual budget for the service.

22.      A legal agreement to support and sustain the Consortium in the longer term is now needed.  This is a more complex document than the previous interim agreement and sets out accountabilities, governance arrangements and the apportionment of costs.  This document is attached asAppendix 1 .

23.      The Welsh Government recently consulted on 'The future delivery of education services in Wales' : Cabinet agreed a response to this document at the meeting on 9th September.  The proposals would bring about a number of changes to the four consortia in Wales in due course.  Linked to these proposals the Welsh Government is currently discussing a draft national model to strengthen regional educational consortia which, if implemented, will require changes to the attached legal agreement.  Taking into account the expiry of the interim agreement, the expectation of the Welsh Government that an agreement should be in place before grants are payable and the on-going development of the national model, it is important that legal arrangements are agreed promptly.  The attached document is likely to be superseded in due course by an agreement that is fully consistent with the emerging national model.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

24.      A contribution based on Indicator Based Assessment will be made by each Council in 2013/14 for the Vale this is 14.79% which equates to £653k, this approach to funding will be made reviewed every three years. The Joint Education Service is not authorised to operate nor budget for a deficit position.

25.      Links Service will be through fees and charges to service users and through specific grants.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

26.      None directly.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

27.      Each local authority shall retain its statutory responsibility for delivery of educational improvement.  The agreements are entered into under powers conferred by Section 101 and 111 of the Local Government Act 1972; Section 25 of the Local Government of Wales Act 1994; the Local Authorities (Goods and Services) Act 1970 and Sections 2, 19 and 20 of the Local Government Act 2000.

Crime and Disorder Implications

28.      None directly.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

29.      Employment arrangements are based on best equal opportunities practice and processes.

Corporate/Service Objectives

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

Policy Framework and Budget

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

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

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

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

33.      Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

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

 

Contact Officer

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer

Officers Consulted

Jodi Winter, Operational Manager - Legal Services

Lynette Jones, Head of Achievement

Clive Teague, Head of Financial Services

 

Responsible Officer:

Sian Davies, Managing Director