Agenda Item No.












Cabinet had referred the report to the Committee to inform Members of the publication of the National Model and the anticipated impact on school improvement services.  It was noted that the National Model introduced a number of changes to the current working arrangements in schools, the Central South Consortium Joint Education Services (JES) and the Learning and Skills Directorate.  The National Model described 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 referred to a consortia staffing model comprising a core staff of “challenge advisors†rather than “system leaders†and drawing on the skills of the best headteachers.  The scope of the consortia services was to be consistent across the four consortia.  In addition to the functions currently undertaken by the JES on work to align the 14-19 strategy for Governor training, advice and for specialist HR advice, dealing with performance and capability issues would transfer from the Council.  Other functions referred to in the Robert Hill report including SEN provision, education welfare services and business support services would remain with the Council. 


The Future Delivery of Education in Wales review undertaken by Robert Hill included key short term options to fund regional consortia directly by top slicing the Revenue Support Grant.  A copy of the National Model for Regional Working constructed by schools, local authorities, regional consortia and Welsh Government was also attached as an appendix to the report.  Local authorities would consider the progress of schools within their areas through their Member led scrutiny arrangements.  The Model therefore included no reference to joint scrutiny arrangements.  The work of each consortium would be overseen by a joint committee comprising the Leader of each constituent local authority or a nominated named deputy, supported by a lead Executive.  This would require changes to the current arrangements.  The Model also set out its expectations that each constituent local authority designate a lead officer to undertake the “intelligent client role†and point of contact with the consortium.


The consortium was also required to submit an annual business plan to Welsh Government and a draft business plan for 2014/15 had been considered by the current joint committee at its meeting in December.  The Model further stipulated that the Council’s Scrutiny Committee for children’s and education services would meet at least once a year to consider performance and progress in local schools.  Of note was the fact that the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) had itself instigated a meeting with representatives of the Consortia which had taken place in December 2013.  The Committee had also agreed that future meetings take place and that a programme for such be drawn up.  


With regard to resources the report further highlighted that larger financial contributions from all the local authorities within the consortium would be expected, with the intention that the functions be transferred by April 2015.  Accountability for the spend would rest with Leaders of the councils who would hold the consortium to account for how the money was spent.  The Rhondda Cynon Taff S151 Officer also had responsibility and accountability for the consortia and would work closely with the Managing Director.  The Consortium would also be accountable to the Wales Audit Office in relation to the use of public funds.


In response to a query as to when the consortium was likely to be inspected by Estyn, Members were advised by the Chief Learning and Skills Officer that Estyn would be carrying out a remit review and a survey in late 2014, with the intention that a review report was produced in Spring 2015.


During consideration of  the report reference was also made to the role of Governors in the performance process and the support and training that may be required.  The Chairman confirmed that he had requested that the Scrutiny Committee considers the role of Governors at a future meeting to include details of the level of training and support that would be required. 


Following consideration of the report it was subsequently




(1)       T H A T the report be noted.


(2)       T H A T Cabinet be advised that it was the intention of the Scrutiny Committee to consider the role of Governors and the training and level of support required at a future meeting.


Reasons for recommendations


(1)       In view of the contents of the report.


(2)       In recognising the increasing role of Governing Bodies.