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Agenda Item No 6

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee [Lifelong Learning]: 20th July 2015

 

Report of the Director of Learning and Skills

 

Regional Education Consortia: Reports by Estyn and Wales Audit Office (WAO)

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To inform the Scrutiny Committee of the conclusions of Estyn and the WAO following visits to the four regional education consortia.

Recommendations

1.         To consider the contents of the two reports and the work that is being progressed by the Central South Consortium Joint Education Service.

2.         To refer both reports to Cabinet.

3.         To refer the WAO report to the Audit Committee.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         The Scrutiny Committee scrutinises the work of the Central South Consortium and these reports include relevant comments about the development of regional education consortia across Wales: they also include recommendations specifically related to scrutiny arrangements.

2.         These reports include recommendations for local authorities as well as consortia and Welsh Government.

3.         The report includes recommendations that relate to the responsibilities of the Committee.

Background

2.         Estyn and the Welsh Audit Office (WAO) visited the four regional education consortia between November 2014 and January 2015 to report on the progress being made by the regional consortia to provide school improvement services.  The reports by both Estyn and WAO, which refer to the progress of the consortia collectively, were published on June 3rd and are attached as Appendices 1 (Estyn) and 2 (WAO).

Relevant Issues and Options

3.         The WAO report concluded 'that after an uncertain start, the foundations for regional school improvement services are being established and there are positive signs of progress but remaining weaknesses are hindering the development of the whole system and the effective governance and financial management of regional consortia'.  The main findings of the Estyn report are set out on pages 6 - 8 of their report (Appendix 1).

4.         Both reports contain recommendations for consortia, local authorities and Welsh Government.  The recommendations for local authorities are:

Estyn:

R6         Support their regional consortium to develop medium-term business plans and ensure that all plans take account of the needs of their local schools

R7         Develop formal working arrangements between scrutiny committees in their consortium in order to scrutinise the work and impact of their regional consortium

WAO:

R1         To clarify the nature and operation of consortia

  • Local authorities should clarify whether consortia services are jointly provided or are commissioned services (services provided under a joint committee arrangements are jointly provided services and are not commissioned services).

R4         To build effective leadership and attract top talent

  • Local authorities should collaborate to support the professional development of senior leaders and to ensure appropriate performance management arrangements are in place for senior leaders.

R5         To improve the effectiveness of governance and management of regional consortia

Local authorities and their regional consortia should:

  • Improve their use of self-evaluation of their performance and governance arrangements and use this to support business planning and their annual reviews of governance to inform their annual governance statements.
  • Improve performance management including better business planning, use of clear and measurable performance measures, and the assessment of value for money.
  • Make strategic risk management an integral part of their management arrangements and report regularly at joint committee or board level.
  • Develop their financial management arrangements to ensure that budgeting, financial monitoring and reporting cover all relevant income and expenditure, including grants funding spent through local authorities.
  • Develop joint scrutiny arrangements of the overall consortia as well as scrutiny of performance by individual authorities, which may involve establishment of a joint scrutiny committee or co-ordinated work by local authority scrutiny committees.
  • Ensure the openness and transparency of consortia decision making and arrangements.
  • Recognise and address any potential conflicts of interest; and where staff have more than one employer, regional consortia should ensure lines of accountability are clear and all staff are aware of the roles undertaken.
  • Develop robust communications strategies for engagement with all key stakeholders.

5.         The visit to Central South Consortium was carried out in November/December 2014 and tailored verbal feedback was provided to the consortium at that time.  The Estyn report comments that the consortia responded positively to their feedback and have already begun to address many of the issues raised in the reports.

6.         The Joint Committee of Central South Consortium agreed an action plan setting out the proposed actions in relation to the reports at their meeting on 25 June.  This report is attached as Appendix 3.  It should be noted that discussions are taking place nationally in relation to the recommendations relating to the scrutiny function.

7.         Estyn/WAO plan to inspect the individual consortia next year.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

8.         The recommendations will need to be addressed within existing resources.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

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

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

10.      A revised legal agreement has recently been put in place which reflects the revised governance arrangements that are operating in line with the National Model for Regional Working.

Crime and Disorder Implications

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

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

12.      There are no equal opportunities implications arising from this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

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

Policy Framework and Budget

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

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

15.      Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

16.      Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

None.

 

Contact Officer

Jennifer Hill, Director of Learning and Skills

 

Officers Consulted

Mike Glavin, Head of School Improvement and Inclusion

Paula Ham, Head of Strategy, Community Learning and Resources

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Director of Learning and Skills

 

 

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