Cabinet had referred the draft Central South Consortium Business Plan for consideration which set out the Central South Wales Challenge vision, priorities of the Consortium, operating model, budget and performance monitoring arrangements.  The Business Plan evaluated progress in 2014/15 and included information about educational outcomes which had improved at every Key Stage on most outcome measures across the Consortium and in individual authorities since 2012.  The draft Business Plan was attached as an Appendix to the report and included information about progress of the first year of the Central South Wales challenge including

  • The launch of the School Improvement Groups (SIGs) to engage all schools to identify and build joint practice development.
  • The launch of two rounds of pathfinders including 60 schools.
  • The pilot of a 'peer review' leadership model.
  • The launch of the 'hubs' programme whereby schools provide quality assured and accredited programmes of support to other schools.

Members also noted that Estyn had recently carried out a Thematic survey of the work of the four consortia in Wales which was due to be published shortly and would provide further evaluation of work to date.  The Business Plan reiterated the targeted areas for improvement and incorporated updated targets for 2015/16 and 2016/17. 


The Director, in presenting the report, advised that every school in the Vale was part of a SIG. 


In considering the report Members referred to the Scrutiny of the Consortium and in particular the money the Vale paid for the service with a question as to whether the Council was receiving ‘value for money’.  It was noted that the Vale Councils contribution was £650,000 which it was reported was significantly less than the expenditure when the Council had its own improvement service.  It was also recognised that joined up learning approaches had been developed by the establishment of the Consortium with particular reference to paragraph 9 of the report and the roll-out of the peer review model which would be available to green level schools through the Challenge Framework.  Members of the Committee who had been part of the Schools Performance Panels within the Vale welcomed the increased focus in respect of teacher assessments and the support provided by the Consortium to the Foundation Phase.  However, Members reiterated in their view the need for co-ordinated scrutiny of the Consortium and although the Scrutiny Committee would be calling the Managing Director of the Consortium to account it was further suggested that Welsh Government be advised of the concerns of the Committee in relation to the need for co-ordinated scrutiny of the Consortium. 


It was also acknowledged that despite the initial scepticism by some schools when the Consortium had been established , the Director of Learning and Skills stated that since then schools were now advising that the support was better and that the Consortium was also working well in many respects.


Although aware that a thematic survey to provide details of Estyn’s and WAO’s view of the Consortium was awaited and that joint scrutiny arrangements of the Consortium had not been pursued by Welsh Government, it was subsequently




(1)    T H A T Cabinet be informed of the concerns of the Committee at the lack of co-ordinated scrutiny of the Central South Consortium.


(2)    T H A T the Central South Consortium draft Business Plan for 2015/16 be noted.”