The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 19 October, 2015

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services & Schools

School and Community Based Counselling Service for Young People

Purpose of the Report

1.    To seek approval to undertake a tendering exercise and enter into a contract for the delivery of a School and Community Based Counselling Service in line with the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013.


1.    That Cabinet consider the information provided, noting the positive impact of the service on young people since its inception, and that an annual report is provided to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning).  


2.    That Cabinet delegate to the Director of Learning and Skills, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Children's Services and Schools, to prepare and issue tender documents in order to procure a new contract for the provision of counselling services.


3.    That Cabinet delegate to the Director of Learning and Skills, in consultation with the Cabinet Member of Children's Services and Schools, to accept a tender for a counselling service and authorise the Head of Legal Services, in consultation with the Director of Learning and Skills, to execute a contract with the successful bidder.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.      To ensure Members are kept informed of the counselling service and its impact on     young people.


2-3.       To ensure contract standing orders and financial regulations are followed and that     officers enter appropriate arrangements to procure and deliver a service.


2.    Following the Clywch report in 2004, issued by the Children's Commissioner Peter Clark, a key recommendation was the establishment of a counselling service for young people.


3.    Following a broad consultation, the Welsh Assembly Government launched its National Strategy for School-Based Counselling Service for Wales in April 2008. The benefits to young people of such a service are well documented.


4.    During 2008 the Vale of Glamorgan was successful in its proposed model to deliver a counselling service. Following confirmation of the grant a full tendering exercise was undertaken, resulting in Barnardos Cymru Ltd being the preferred service deliverer.


5.    Funding allocated in 2008/09 was £42K, which had risen to £192K by 2012/13. The increase each year was in order to grow the service slowly and ensure all secondary and special schools received a service.


6.    The provision ensures that all 8 mainstream secondary schools currently receive a service of either 1 or 2 days per week. Additional days are allocated for special schools, out of school provision and some primary provision. The service also covers pupil referral units, those receiving home tuition and so forth.


7.    In 2012 the Welsh Government Education Minister confirmed that funding would be devolved within the Revenue Support Grant (from April 2013). The devolved funds, were slightly increased, this increase reflected a broadening of the remit to include provision for young people up to 19 years old.


8.    In March 2013 the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act set in place a legal requirement for all local authorities to secure 'reasonable provision' for an 'independent counselling service' in respect of health, emotional and social needs.


9.    A multi-agency Management Board oversees development in the Vale of Glamorgan, including members of the Education Service, head teachers and members of the Local Health Board.


10.    An open procurement process took place in 2013 complying with the new requirements in line with the Council's Standing Orders and Financial Regulations to identify a suitable provider of a School and Community Based Counselling service. On the 1st of June 2013 the Council entered into a 3 year Contract with the successful bidder 'Action for Children'.  


11.    Robust monitoring and evaluation systems are in place to comply with Welsh Government requirements, and a Management Board oversees the service. The service reports to Welsh Government as required and is part of any Estyn inspection that takes place of the local authority or individual schools. Feedback from school staff and pupils has been very positive and was reflected in a report to the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee on 20th July 2015.


12.    Over 380 young people have accessed the service in the last year with over 2700 sessions being attended. The main issues for referral (presenting issues) are often highlighted as family, anger and stress issues. Predominant issues highlighted during counselling include family, pupil self-worth and anger.


13.    'YP-Core', a psychological tool used to measure stress levels of young people, shows a constant 5/6 point reduction in pre and post counselling intervention. YP Core is used as a tool to assess psychological wellbeing. Outcome data continues to show significant positive progress for the young people undertaking counselling. The YP Core tool shows a consistent 5 to 6 point reduction in pre and post counselling intervention on a scale of 0 (healthy) to 40 (severe). The annual report demonstrates areas covered within the YP Core scale. The reduction in outcome scores pre and post counselling from previous years is partially down to counsellors working with the young people to complete the outcome tool (previously this was self-scored) and it is felt that by having a better understanding of the questions, young people are scoring themselves more appropriately.

Relevant Issues and Options

14.    The Council has an option to extend the current contract with Action for Children for an additional two years, but has decided that it would be timely to revisit, revise and incorporate new safeguards, i.e. liquated damages prior to initiating an open procurement process to start in January 2016 and undertaken in line with the Council's Standing Orders and Financial Regulations allowing us to identify a suitable provider of a School and Community Based Counselling.


15.    It is intended that refreshed documentation for procurement would be completed between October to December and an OJEU advert would be posted (due to the funds available) and an advert be posted on the 'Sell to Wales' procurement site. The closing dates for applications and evaluation of applications would be completed by the end of February 2016 with interviews conducted and contract awarded by the end of March 2016. Following the formal 10 day stand still process (following a preferred provider being identified) and assuming this is not challenged the contract would be entered for legal engrossment for an official start on 1st June 2016.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

16.    Welsh Government previously provided a specific grant for this service: the funding is now included in the Revenue Support Grant. The Learning and Skills Directorate seeks to utilise this funding to procure a service from June 2016 for £185,000 per year for 3 years (until May 2019).

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

17.    The Community Based Counselling Service contributes to the Sustainable Development principle of ensuring a Strong, Healthy and Just Society.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

18.    Under the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013, sections 92 and 93, local authorities are required to make reasonable provision for independent counselling services for registered pupils at secondary schools in their area, and for other young people aged 11-19 who belong to the local authority’s area.


19.    Inspections of local authorities are carried out under Section 38 of the Education Act 1997 which provides that Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education and Training Wales (HMCI) 'may, and, if requested to do so by the Secretary of State, shall, arrange for any local authority to be inspected'. Estyn’s Common Inspection Framework includes learner well-being as a reporting feature.


20.    The inspectorate has powers relating to section 51 of the Children Act (Wales) 2004 to review the authority's performance.

Crime and Disorder Implications

21.    In delivering an effective counselling service vulnerable young people are listened to, supported and helped to deal within their own issues, thereby reducing the risk of negative and anti-social behaviour and reducing the risk of entering into criminal activity now and in the future.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

22.    Welsh Government guidance on the development of a universal counselling service will ensure all young people aged 11-19 have equal access to the service regardless of perceived need.

Corporate/Service Objectives

23.    There is a commitment in the Children and Young People section of the Corporate Plan, under Safeguarding Vulnerable Children and Young People: "To increase access to counselling and advocacy services for children and young people, in particular with other agencies and on a regional basis where this is possible. (2013/14)"

Policy Framework and Budget

24.    The recommendations of this report are within existing policy framework and budget; and is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

25.    Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

26.    Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers


Contact Officer

Mark Davies, Children and Young People's Partnership Manager

Officers Consulted

Mike Glavin, Head of School Improvement and Inclusion

Gill Toon, Principal Educational Psychologist

Operational Manager, Legal Services

Nicola Monckton, Finance Manager

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill

Director of Learning and Skills