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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting: 12 May, 2014

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services  

 

Central South Consortium Business Plan

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To inform Members of the Business Plan of the Central South Consortium.

Recommendations

1.         To endorse the Business Plan.

2.         That the Business Plan is referred to the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) for consideration.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         The work of the Central South Consortium plays a vital role in the delivery of the Council's statutory responsibilities in relation to schools.  The business plan explains how school improvement services will be delivered on behalf of the Council.

2.         The Scrutiny Committee will wish to be aware of the contents of the Business Plan to inform its scrutiny of the work of the Consoritum.

Background

2.         The Joint Committee of the Central South Consortium agreed a business plan for 2014/15 at its meeting on 25th March.  The business plan is attached as Appendix A.

3.         The National Model of Regional Working stipulates the areas that the business plan must cover: the plan was submitted for consideration to Welsh Government as required by the model and was subsequently endorsed.

4.         The business plan sets out the Central South Wales Challenge vision, priorities for the consortium, operating model, budget and performance monitoring arrangements.  Local authority-specific appendices are presently being finalised.

Relevant Issues and Options

5.         The Central South Wales Challenge vision marks an important shift where improvement activity is led by schools for schools.  The vision will require a systematic shift in ownership of school improvement activity which is built from the school level.  The Consortium has engaged Professor Mel Ainscow who advised the successful Manchester Challenge to provide leadership for this work.  A strategy group of headteachers has been established, a successful launch event has taken place, pairs of pathfinder schools have been set up and all schools have been invited to participate in School Improvement Groups.  The business plan reflects that this new approach will need time to mature.  The Welsh Government is launching Schools Challenge Cymru and discussions are taking place with a view to securing coherence between these two programmes.

6.         The business plan refers to the re-structuring of the Consortium to accommodate the new vision, to respond to the National Model and to reflect the lessons of the first eighteen months of operation.  For example, the new structure will increase the capacity for the effective use of data and intelligence.  The current role of system leaders will be replaced by a smaller number of challenge advisors who will be held accountable within the organisation for the progress of schools.  There will be a senior challenge advisor linked to each local authority.  The LINKS brand and function will no longer exist but schools will still be able to access support from the programme function of the Consortium.  There will be a new post of Managing Director.

7.         The Vale-specific annex is currently being finalised and will be circulated to members when finalised.  Alongside the business plan this will provide a useful tool for the Scrutiny Committee to use when holding the Consortium to account.  The Committee will wish to incorporate an annual meeting with senior Consortium officers into its work programme following the meeting during the autumn term 2013.

8.         The governance arrangements of the Consortium are being revised in line with the National Model.

9.         Work will take place during the year to plan for the transfer of the following functions from the Council to the Consortium in April 2015: support for governing bodies, aspects of HR practice which enable schools to progress and leadership of 14-19.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

10.      The business plan will be delivered using funding provided by the Council at the same level as in 2013/14 pending the transfer of additional functions in April 2015 from retained grant funding and from income from schools.  The business plan provides more information.  The reorganisation of the consortium is expected to result in some current posts being made redundant: in the event that staff are not redeployed into other posts, redundancy payments will be payable.  In the first instance these costs will be charged to the consortium's accumulated reserves.  The transfer of additional functions to the consortium may have employment implications which will be clarified when detailed proposals are developed.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

11.      High performing schools make a significant contribution to economic prosperity and to vibrant and sustainable communities.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

12.      There will be a need to develop a revised legal agreement to reflect key changes in the business plan including the revised governance arrangements and the cessation of LINKS.

Crime and Disorder Implications

13.      None.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

14.      The business plan continues to prioritise support for Welsh language development.

Corporate/Service Objectives

15.      Improving outcomes and well-being for all learners.

Policy Framework and Budget

16.      The recommendations of this report are within existing policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

17.      Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

18.      Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

National Model for Regional Working

 

Contact Officer

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

Officers Consulted

Lynette Jones, Head of School Improvement and Inclusion

Paula Ham, Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill

Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

 

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