Meeting documents

Education and Learning Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 23rd October, 2017 3.00 pm

Date: Monday 23rd October 2017 Time: 3.00 p.m. Place: Council Chamber, Civic Centre

Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

PresentAndWithReport toReport of
Item/Resolution Status Action
Tudalen Glawr Agenda Gymraeg/Welsh Agenda Coversheet (190K/bytes)

It was noted that no requests had been received for the simultaneous translation service.


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor:

B. Thomas


Councillor J. Holt declared an interest in Item 6 - Inspire 2 Achieve / Inspire 2 Work Project Update.

Report (152K/bytes)
Appendix (3M/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Principal Educational Psychologist which was presented to provide an overview of the Draft Well-Being in Education Strategy and how it supports the overall Blaenau Gwent Vision for Education.

The Principal Educational Psychologist spoke to the report and highlighted key points contained therein:

- Background and Context
- Performance Evidence and Information
- Risk Implications
- Financial Implications

At the invitation of the Chair the Deputy Head Teacher of Brynmawr Foundation School was asked to provide a presentation by Brynmawr pupils. The Presentation was carried out verbally owing to the IT system being unavailable.

The Pupils of Brynmawr Foundation School provided an update on their processes and outcomes of the Well-Being in Education Strategy and Good Practice Guide for Schools and explained how it had impacted on the school for the better.

A Member congratulated the Deputy Head Teacher and pupils for an excellent presentation and expressed sincere apologies for the lack of IT facilities to enable the slides to be presented.

Reference was made to the Financial Implications of the report and a question asked that when the Well-Being in Education Strategy comes into practice, would funding roll out across all schools. The Deputy Head Teacher responded that the initial work had been funded through an EAS Funding Bid and there had been no funding implications for schools. Regarding further roll out the funding would cover costs for the Brynmawr Deputy Head Teacher to work with other schools.

A Member asked the pupils of Brynmawr whether, in their opinion, the School Council had made a difference and they responded that the School Council held regular meetings and had been consulted on any changes and those discussions had been taken into consideration when decisions were made.

Another Member asked the pupils what had surprised them the most when carrying out their investigations? A pupil responded that it had been quite alarming that some pupils did not think that they were entitled to have a voice or give opinions, but thankfully that mind-set had subsequently changed and pupils now realised that everyone had an opportunity to have their voices heard.

Congratulations were again expressed by a Member who noted that it was very pleasing that the pupils felt their opinions and voices counted. He felt that the Head Boys and Head Girls of schools played a major contribution in representing their peers at school councils and wished to thank them very much.

A Member assured the Committee that a copy of the Brynmawr Foundation School pupil presentation would be provided for information.

A Member requested that the Education Department and the Council review the School Budgets to ensure that they included the financial implications of rolling out the Well-Being Strategy to all schools.

Another Member requested an amendment to page 25 of the Strategy document - Aims and Objectives, namely that 'and Partners' be added at the end of the last bullet point.

The Chair concurred that there would be financial implications as this was currently a living document.

RESOLVED to recommend accordingly.

FURTHER RESOLVED, to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the preferred Option 1 be agreed namely:

- To consult on the Strategy and Good Practice Guide and offer constructive comments and improvement and support the significant work undertaken by the Well-Being Working Party in preparing schools to meet the challenges ahead; and to also include;

- That the School Budget be reviewed to ensure that money was available for the provision of the Well-Being in Education Strategy.

Members thanked the Education Department for the work carried out on the Strategy.

Report (211K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (131K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (46K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Education Transformation and Performance which was presented to provide Members with an update of progress made in relation to:

- 21st Century Schools Band A Programme and Band B developments
- Blaenau Gwent Gateway Review 2017

The Education Transformation Manager spoke to the report and highlighted key points therein:

- Background and Context
„ Investment Objectives
„ Current Programme Status
„ SEWC 21st Century Schools Regional Group

- Performance Evidence and Information

At the invitation of the Chair the Headteacher of Tredegar Comprehensive School spoke to the Committee on the developments and progress at the school and referred to the pupils to receive questions.

The Chair asked what the pupils thought had been the most difficult and the most rewarding part of the remodelling. The Head Girl responded that it had initially proved quite difficult but it had certainly resulted in a better working and learning environment with rewards being improvements in technology.

A Member asked if the pupils felt that they had been heavily involved in the project and the Head Boy explained that the school council had been consulted on a number of issues relating to the colour scheme used for the wall panels, as well as the furniture etc. It had also been evident that less vandalism had occurred and it was felt that this was because the pupils had more ownership of the school and therefore valued and respected the improvements. The pupils also felt that safeguarding in the school had significantly improved.

It was noted that there were still a number of classrooms that needed to be upgraded and refurbished should funding be available, as it had been evident that learning had improved in the areas where the remodelling had taken place.

The Head of Education Transformation and Performance referred to the 21st Century Schools Band B Programme, part of which included the remodelling of Secondary Schools across the County Borough and was currently awaiting feedback on the level of funding from the Welsh Government.

A question was asked in relation to sporting facilities that were shared between the Leisure Centres and Schools and which were the responsibility of the Leisure Trust, if any upgrading work had been carried out to these facilities. The Head of Education Transformation and Performance noted that the sports pitches at Tredegar Comprehensive School had been upgraded in 2002 by Sport Lot funding, however they would need to be further upgraded and following dialogue the Welsh Government had indicated that 21st Century funding could be used for dual school/leisure usage facilities.

A Member asked if all schools were graded A to D and the Officer explained that schools were categorised based upon suitability and condition with A being good to D being poor, however, Blaenau Gwent had no schools categorised as D for either suitability or condition. He advised that a Managing the School Estate Report would be presented to the Scrutiny Committee on 27th October, 2017.

Six Bells Primary New Build Project

A Member referred to the Six Bells Primary New Build Project and requested an update. The Education Transformation Team Leader confirmed that there was currently a process of undertaking an evaluation exercise to determine the costs for the project with Technical Services. It was anticipated work would commence in April, 2018 and would be a 52 week project with the school being operational from the Summer 2019, or at the start of the academic year 2019.

Financial Implications

A Member highlighted the difference in the figures stated in paragraph 2.4 and 4.2 and the Officer noted that there was an amendment to 4.2 - Figure 1, Financial Overview and the Forecast expenditure for Ystruth Primary School which should read 636,000.

Sincere thanks were expressed to the pupils and Headteacher of Tredegar Comprehensive School and it was agreed that the calibre of pupils in Blaenau Gwent was to be commended.

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the Scrutiny Committee acknowledged the progress made against the 21st Century Schools Band A Programme and the outcomes from the Gateway Review.

Report (160K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Education Transformation and Performance which was presented to update Scrutiny Members on the Inspire 2 Achieve (I2A) and Inspire 2 Work (I2W) Projects funded by the European Social Fund (ESF).

The Youth Service Manager spoke to the report and highlighted the key points therein:

- Background and Context
- Performance Evidence
„ ESF Grant for Sustainability of the Service
„ The Breakdown of I2W
- Financial Implications
- Impact and Assessment

Councillor J. Holt declared an interest and remained in the meeting.

Youth Engagement and Progression Framework

Reference was made the reduction in young people becoming NEET from 8.7% (74 young people) in 2009/10 to 2.49% in 2015/16 and a Member asked what the 2.49% equated to in the number of children. The Officer explained that it was 15 young people.

A Member referred to the Early Intervention Toolkit and enquired if a case study could be developed to show the journey of a student.

A Member raised concerns regarding identifying pupils in early years as possible NEET and that circumstances of those pupils could change. The Officer responded that the toolkit was used as an early indicator to ensure that staff had been in place to support those children to not become NEET.

A Member felt that it was very interesting to see how youth workers were working in schools and how this had improved the attendance, attainment and behaviour of pupils.

A Member enquired if the apprenticeship scheme was part of the project. The Officer responded that the Aspire Apprenticeship Project was a separate project to the Inspire Project, but would link together if a student wanted to undertake an apprenticeship.

A Member raised concerns that certain courses were not available at the Ebbw Vale Campus. Another Member felt that pupils were not being approached early enough to allow them sufficient time to plan a career. The Officer responded that the availability of courses had been identified through the Raising Aspirations Group (RAG); and that next year the Youth Service would be holding an employability event in February, with Careers Wales for Year 9 pupils prior to them taking their Options and to link them with employers to support the pupils in planning their future careers. It is intended that these events will take place on an annual basis and would enable the service to influence the curriculum.

It was noted that Mr. J. Sexton of Coleg Gwent would provide a presentation to Members on 28th November, 2017.

A question was raised regarding the demise of Communities First and whether any plans had been made in relation to moving forward. The Officer said that close work had been carried out and meetings had been held with Managers of the Ebbw Vale and Tredegar Clusters where a majority of youth provisions had been picked up by the Youth Service or other voluntary sectors. With regards to the Ebbw Fach teams these were still in existence and are meeting to establish what could potentially be lost and intended to look into the Legacy Fund to support any projects.

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted, namely:

- To scrutinise the impact and contribution of the Youth Service's Team to reducing the numbers of young people becoming NEET, and;

- Agree to continue to scrutinise the performance of both Inspire to Achieve/Work projects via annual monitoring reports.