Meeting documents

Education and Learning Scrutiny Committee
Friday, 15th December, 2017 10.00 am

Date: Friday 15th December 2017 Time: 10.00 a.m. Place: Council Chamber, Civic Centre

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

PresentAndWithReport toReport of
COUNCILLOR HAYDN TROLLOPE (CHAIR)
Item
No
Item/Resolution Status Action
PUBLIC
1. TUDALEN GLAWR AGENDA GYMRAEG/WELSH VERSION OF AGENDA COVERSHEET
Tudalen Glawr Agenda Gymraeg/Welsh Agenda Coversheet (95K/bytes)
Noted
2. MINUTE SILENCE

A minute silence was held for the recent passing of ex-Councillor Don Wilcox.

Noted
3. SIMULTANEOUS TRANSLATION

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

Noted
4. APOLOGIES

Apologies for absence were received from:

Councillors P. Baldwin, M. Day and J. Holt.

Noted
5. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND DISPENSATIONS

There were no declarations of interest or dispensations reported.

Noted
6. SPECIAL EDUCATION & LEARNING SCRUTINY COMMITTEE MEETING
Minutes (200K/bytes)
Cofnodion (138K/bytes)

The Minutes of the Special Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee held on 23rd October, 2017 were submitted.

RESOLVED that the Minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.

Agreed
7. ACTION SHEET
Action Sheet (39K/bytes)

The Action Sheet arising from the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee held on 23rd October, 2017 was submitted, whereupon:

RESOLVED that the Action Sheet be noted and the information contained therein be acknowledged.

Agreed
8. EDUCATION & LEARNING SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Minutes (306K/bytes)
Cofnodion (242K/bytes)

The Minutes of the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee Meeting held on 27th October, 2017 were submitted.

RESOLVED that the Minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.

Agreed
9. ACTION SHEET
Action Sheet (42K/bytes)
Attachment 1 (44K/bytes)
Attachment 2 (35K/bytes)

The Action Sheet arising from the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee held on 27th October, 2017 was submitted, whereupon:

Item 5 - Action Sheet

It was requested that a letter of thanks be sent to Mr. J. Sexton for the excellent briefing session that had been carried out.

Following a discussion it was agreed to hold a future Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee meeting at the Learning Zone and to invite a delegate from the School Council to attend the meeting.

Item 7 - Managing the School Estate

A Member requested the number of Blaenau Gwent learners attending Out of County schools and the Head of Education Transformation and Performance undertook to provide the information but indicated that the numbers of applications for Caerphilly schools were reducing significantly.


A question was raised regarding Education Sub-Committees, e.g. Admissions Forum and whether the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee could have sight of the Minutes and Terms of Reference of these meetings as it was unsure what the Forums did and who the groups reported to. The Officer explained that the terms of reference had been established and he would undertake to share this information as well as the representation on the groups.

Item 9 - Agenda Items

A Member expressed disappointment that the LA does not currently have a policy specifically on Transgender in Schools, and felt that Governing Bodies could be challenged on this. Following a discussion it was moved that the Scrutiny Committee look at a Policy on Transgender. The Corporate Director responded that the LA can provide a paragraph on Transgender for schools to include in their Strategic Equality Plans.

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the Action Sheet be noted and the information contained therein be acknowledged.

Agreed
10. PUPIL ATTENDANCE AND EXCLUSIONS DATA
Report (573K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director which was presented to provide Members with the opportunity to scrutinise attendance and exclusion data for Blaenau Gwent at Primary School and Secondary School level for the academic year 2016/17.

The Senior Education Welfare Officer spoke on:

Attendance - Performance Evidence and Information

Following a question regarding the different authorities being used for comparative data in the report, the Corporate Director of Education explained that until 4 years ago there had not been a benchmark in Blaenau Gwent to compare to similar local authorities, however Blaenau Gwent was now able to compare its performance against its family of authorities, those that were similar in deprivation and it was the ambition to become the highest performing in the family of local authorities.

Reference was made to the School Late Gate Project and parents being challenged for late attendance.

A question was asked as to whether figures could be supplied of the number of parents that had been fined for non-attendance. The Senior Education Welfare Officer explained that in the past two and half years fixed penalties had been issued primarily to parents of pupils in secondary schools, however there had also been penalties issued for Primary school pupils. The Officer undertook to provide the figures.


Following a question on the variation of attendance across schools and whether good practice was shared between schools, the Officer explained that weekly reports were sent to schools which were broken down into code analysis to enable comparisons of good practice. A Member requested that individual school data be provided for Members and the Officer undertook to supply the information.

The Inclusion Lead Officer spoke on:

Exclusions

The Officer explained that the numbers of incidents outlined in the report could relate to one child being excluded on more than one occasion and undertook to provide information on the number of incidents in relation to the number of pupils.

A Member expressed concerns regarding training requirements for staff as Members felt that staff were unsure of their role in this area.

A question was asked whether consideration would be given to those pupils in schools that may be affected by excluded pupils. The Officer explained that this would need to be taken up with the individual schools as exclusions were only determined by the Headteacher.

The Inclusion Lead Officer informed Members that the PRU had reached capacity for 2016/17 and this had reduced the capability of the PRU to support schools through the provision of an alternative to permanent exclusions.

Evaluation

A Member referred to the exclusions being too high and the establishment of the Safer Schools Partnership approach to support improved partnership work to reduce exclusions in the long term.

The Officer responded that there are a number of ways in which partnership can be encouraged. One example for schools is the Manage Move Protocol. The Protocol supports the manage move process and clearly sets out the responsibilities of all involved, what information should be shared and how the process operates.


In terms of exclusion targets he explained that targets are set with schools and the EAS and determined based on all the necessary information.

A Member asked, of the pupils that are excluded on more than one occasion how many are Manage Moved and how many are permanently excluded. The Officer undertook to provide this information.

Reference was made to the current morale of front line staff being extremely low and the possibility of losing good staff due to appropriate support not being in place. The Corporate Director explained that this situation was very difficult and challenging as no member of staff wanted to exclude pupils and Blaenau Gwent was very fortunate that the Principal Educational Psychologist worked proactively with the staff facing these circumstances. She stated that work was being undertaken on staff wellbeing.

A Member asked if a pupil was referred for a Manage Move could a school refuse to accept the pupil. The Inclusion Lead Officer responded that for pupils moving via an in year transfer request, apart from pupils permanently excluded twice, there was not an option to refuse placement. For Manage Moves, moves can only take place with the full support of both schools and the parents.

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that Option 1 be endorsed, namely:

- To consider the information contained in the report and provide challenger/and or further action for consideration to make improvements, and;

- To ensure the Well-Being and Safeguarding in schools.

Councillor P. Edwards left the Meeting at this juncture.

Agreed
11. ADRODDIAD DIWEDDARU CYNLLUN STRATEGOL CYMRAEG MEWN ADDYSG (2017/2020) BLAENAU GWENT / BLAENAU GWENT WELSH IN EDUCATION STRATEGIC PLAN (2017/2020) UPDATE REPORT
Report (185K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (568K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (77K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (28K/bytes)
Appendix 4 (352K/bytes)
Appendix 5 (166K/bytes)
Report (187K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (587K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (81K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (29K/bytes)
Appendix 4 (302K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director of Education which was presented to provide Members on the progress update in relation to the statutory requirement placed upon Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council to consult upon and submit a Welsh Education Strategic Plan (WESP) to Welsh Government for the period 2017/20.

Councillor J. Collins left the Meeting at this juncture.

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

- Purpose of the Report
- Scope of the Report
- Background and Context
- Risk Implications
- Conclusion

A Member referred to the low percentage of residents in Blaenau Gwent that use the Welsh language and felt that the finance used for producing Welsh translation documents could be utilised in areas of higher priorities in Education e.g. child poverty, numeracy and literacy. He also commented that schools were struggling to appoint Welsh speaking teachers. The Corporate Director responded that Welsh medium provision in Education was a national priority.


The Chair expressed his concern that this report had been printed in Welsh and the costs associated with the printing; for future reference he requested that a Welsh copy is only printed if required by a Member. The Officer responded that to comply with the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 and in line with the Welsh Language Standards, the Council is required to ensure that all WESP and WEF documentation is bi-lingual, and therefore, must be translated and printed.

The Chair also referred to page 125 of the report and raised concerns of a risk that main stream English medium schools could suffer with the increased transition rates from Welsh-Medium nursery provision to Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Helyg. The Corporate Director explained that decisions had not yet been made on how Welsh Medium provision would be delivered but discussion on a Welsh medium seedling provision would be taking place going forward.

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

- To scrutinise the progress made in relation to the development of the Blaenau Gwent Welsh in Education Strategic Plan throughout 2017; and,

- Offer comments on the content of the draft in Blaenau Gwent Strategic Plan (WESP) document, prior to seeking approval from the Executive Committee and then being signed off by the Lead Director with the statutory responsibility for Education within the Council.

Agreed
12. STATUTORY MAINTAINED SCHOOLS PARTNERSHIP AGREEMENT
Report (123K/bytes)
Appendix (579K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director of Education which was presented to provide Members with the opportunity to contribute to the development of the Statutory Partnership Agreement and influence the way in which the Council Works with schools and Governing Bodies in order to improve.

The Education Transformation Team Leader left the meeting at this juncture.

The Corporate Director spoke to the report and highlighted the Background and Context as well and the Performance Evidence and Information.

A Member raised concerns regarding the deficits that could possibly result in school budgets being cut. The Corporate Director explained that schools would need to produce a deficit reduction plan which would be signed by the Corporate Director and Chief Finance Officer and regularly reviewed.

Reference was made to page 252/253 of the report regarding the Admission Forum and a question was asked as to whether the statement applied to all schools, including grant maintained. The Corporate Director responded that it applied to all schools other than Foundation schools.

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the forgoing, that Option 1 be endorsed, namely:

- To consider the information contained in the report and appendices and to provide comments to further the development of the Statutory Partnership Agreement and in doing so, influence the way in which the Council works with schools and Governing bodies in order to improve them.

Agreed
13. CORPORATE SAFEGUARDING POLICY
Report (118K/bytes)
Appendix (861K/bytes)

The report of the Head of Children's Services was presented for Members of the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee to consider the updated Corporate Safeguarding Policy prior to adoption by Council.

Councillor J. P. Morgan left the Meeting at this juncture.

The Service Manager spoke to the report and highlighted information contained within the Policy.

The Corporate Director explained that as well as the Corporate Safeguarding Policy there was also an Education Safeguarding Policy.

RESOLVED to recommend that Option 1 be endorsed, namely:

- To consider and support the updated Corporate Safeguarding Policy for approval by Council.

Agreed
14. AGENDA ITEMS FOR THE NEXT MEETING OF THE EDUCATION AND LEARNING SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Agenda Items (54K/bytes)

The Chair made reference to the ICT Plan Business Case for Schools and felt it important to have a pre-scrutiny to enable discussion and ideas prior to decisions being made.

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the Agenda Items for the next meeting be accepted, namely:-

- Youth Service Progress and Youth Engagement Framework Report (January, 2016 - March, 2017)

- Education Achievement Service (EAS) and Local Authority (LA) Business Plan for 2018/19

- Achievements of pupils in out of county Overview of Independent Special School Placements and Education Other than at School (EOTAS) Provision in Blaenau Gwent

- ICT Plan Business Case for Schools

Agreed