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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 27 January, 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

National Model for Regional Working

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To inform Cabinet of the publication of the National Model and the anticipated impact on school improvement services.

Recommendations

1.         To note the publication of the National Model for Regional Working.

2.         To note that further reports will be presented at a future meeting to agree aspects of its implementation.

3.         To refer the report to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) noting the references in paragraphs 6 and 11.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         The regional school improvement services (Central South Consortium Joint Education Services (CSCJES) plays a key role in supporting and challenging schools to raise standards of pupil attainment.  The National Model will introduce changes to the working of the CSCJES which will also affect schools and the local authority.

2.         Following further work decisions will be required including the transfer of functions and staff, in relation to governance arrangements and changes to the legal agreement.

3.         The National Model refers to the future responsibility and expectations of the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning).

 

Background

2.         'The future delivery of education Wales' review undertaken by Robert Hill included 'key short term options' to fund regional consortia directly by top slicing Revenue Support Grant subject to:

·               All consortia covering a standard set of key functions

·               Consortia obtaining Ministerial consent for their organisational structures, annual business plans, outcomes targets and appointment of their Managing Director

·               Consortia governance being vested in a board of local authority leaders, a Ministerial appointee, an education improvement expert and three headteachers (one primary, one secondary and one special school)

·               Attending a twice yearly stocktake with the Minister for Education and Skills

·               Moving as quickly as practicable to a core staffing model, supplemented by buying in a range of school improvement expertise

3.         The National Model for Regional working has been constructed by schools, local authorities, regional consortia and Welsh Government.  It is 'based on a vision of regional school improvement consortia working on behalf of local authorities to lead, orchestrate and co-ordinate the improvement in the performance of schools and education of young people'.

4.         The National Model is attached as Appendix A.

Relevant Issues and Options

5.         The National Model introduces a number of changes to the current working arrangements in schools, the CSCJES and the Learning and Skills Directorate.

6.         The National Model describes key principles of school improvement emphasising the importance of schools taking responsibility for their own improvement with schools that are positioned to do so having greater levels of autonomy.  In this context the Model proposed a national school categorisation system and refers to a consortia staffing model comprising a core staff of 'challenge advisers' (rather than 'system leaders') and drawing on the skills of the best headteachers.

7.         The scope of consortia services is to be consistent across the four consortia.  In addition to the functions currently undertaken by the CSCJES, work to align 14-19 strategy, for governor training and advice and for specialist HR advice dealing with performance and capability issues would transfer from the Council.  Other functions referred to in the Hill report including SEN provision, education welfare services and business support services would remain with the Council.  The Council would continue to be responsible for all other existing functions including the statutory accountability for school performance and responsibility for exercising statutory power of intervention and the organisation of schools.

8.         Local authorities will consider the progress of schools within their area through their member-level scrutiny arrangements.  The model includes no reference to joint scrutiny arrangements.

9.         The work of each consortium will be overseen by a Joint Committee comprising the leader of each constituent local authority (or a nominated, named deputy) supported by a lead chief executive.  This will require changes to the current arrangements.

10.      Operational oversight of the consortium will be delegated to an Executive Board who will oversee, support and challenge its work.  Its membership would consist of a representative of the Joint Committee, a Welsh Government nominee, a lead director of education and no more than five experts, including at least one local headteacher, from a pool assembled by WLGA and welsh Government.  Again this will require change to the current arrangements.

11.      The Model sets out its expectations that each constituent local Authority designates a Lead Officer to undertake the 'intelligent client role' and point of contact with the Consortium.

12.      The consortium is required to submit an annual business plan to Welsh Government.  The current Joint Committee considered a draft business plan for 2014/15 at its December meeting which will when finalised be submitted in February.  The business plan must include draft annexes for each local authority within the consortium explaining what the overarching business plan means in terms of schools, school improvement priorities, school improvement services and school improvement targets for each constituent authority: the agreed annex will form an SLA between the consortium and the Council.  Each authority will provide information about their vision and economic development priorities of proposed changes to school organisation and planned arrangements for delivering services that relate to schools including SEN/ALN and EWO services, youth engagement strategy safeguarding arrangements and business support services.

13.      The model stipulates that the Council's Scrutiny committee for children's and education services will meet at least once a year to consider performance and progress in local schools.  Senior employees of the regional consortia will attend these meetings and answer questions.  The recent attendance at the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) by CSCJES officers anticipated this aspect of the model.

14.      The Managing Director of each consortium will meet regularly with Welsh Government officials.

15.      The current round of stocktakes (meetings between local authorities, consortia and Welsh Government officials to review school progress) will be replaced by challenge and review sessions.  The scope and regularity of these sessions will vary according to need and risk but as a minimum will be twice a year.  Once a year the Minister for Education and Skills will chair a challenge and review session for each consortium to review progress.

16.      Each consortium will establish two panels to consult respectively with school leaders and school governors.  The most recent meeting of the CSCJES Joint Committee considered draft revised governance arrangements incorporating proposals for such panel and which also included a regular meeting of the five directors of education.

17.      Estyn will undertake a remit on the progress being made by consortia from late summer 2014 for publication in spring 2015.  Inspections of Consortia will begin in autumn 2015 through to autumn 2016.

18.      The National Model describes the key roles of the Managing Director of each consortium which include the publication of an annual report as part of the following year's business plan.  Welsh Government will have the opportunity to observe the appointment process for a Managing Director and to comment on the proposed appointment.  CSCJES is currently seeking to recruit a Managing Director and in the interim has appointed Hannah Woodhouse from ISOS Partnership as interim Managing Director.

19.      The aim of the model is to transition through the next months in order to implement the model by 1 April 2014: business plans will set out which school improvement services will be delivered by April 2014 and which will remain to be delivered by April 2015.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

20.      The model confirms that the school improvement element of the Council's RSG will be identified separately and ring fenced for direct transfer to the consortium: the cash values for 14/15 are published in an annex to the Model and the funding for future years will be subject to negotiation.  The major Welsh Government grants and local authority matched funding will be passported to the consortium, apart from those elements delegated directly to schools.  Centrally retained elements will be passported in full and retained by the consortium.  Consortia can provide services on a paid for basis.  The model sets out a minimum ring fenced contribution of £799,973 from the Vale of Glamorgan to the CSCJES in 2014/15 compared with the current contribution of £651,860, an increase of £148,113.  In order to manage within existing budgets it will be important that the transfer of additional functions (see paragraph 5 above) is associated with the transfer or reduction of costs of a similar value.  Work on these aspects is at an early stage and it is not yet clear how the transition period described in paragraph 17 is fully consistent with the financial arrangements.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

21.      The delivery of high quality school improvement services underpins a high performing education system which, in turn, drives and supports a vibrant and sustainable economy.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

22.      The National Model will require changes to the recently agreed legal agreements that establish the consortium including revised appointments to the governance boards.

Crime and Disorder Implications

23.      There are none

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

24.      The CSCJES has an important role to play in ensuring high quality educational opportunities for all and for supporting the development of the welsh language including provision in welsh-medium schools.

Corporate/Service Objectives

25.      Improving outcomes and wellbeing for all learners.

Policy Framework and Budget

26.      The National Model will require changes to the current legal agreement and further work is required to ensure the National Model is delivered within existing budgets.  Members are asked to note this report and to consider future reports to agree its implementation.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

27.      None.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

28.      Lifelong Learning

Background Papers

The future delivery of education services in Wales: review undertaken by Robert Hill consulting 2013.

 

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

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer

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