Meeting documents

Education and Learning Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 3rd September, 2018 9.30 am

Date: Monday 3rd September 2018 Time: 9.30 a.m. Place: Council Chamber, Civic Centre

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

PresentAndReport toReport of
Item/Resolution Status Action
Tudalen Glawr Agenda Gymraeg/Welsh Agenda Coversheet (171K/bytes)

The Chair expressed condolences on the recent passing of Mrs. Sturdy a Teacher at Ebbw Fawr Learning Community, Primary Phase. The Committee stood as a mark of respect.


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


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors:

P. Baldwin, J. C. Morgan

Mr. T. Baxter - Co-opted Member


No declarations of interest or dispensations were reported.

Minutes (335K/bytes)
Cofnodion (136K/bytes)

The Minutes of the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee held on 9th July, 2018 were submitted, whereupon:-

The Committee AGREED that the minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.

Action Sheet (61K/bytes)

The Action Sheet arising from the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee held on 9th July, 2018 was submitted.

It was noted that the Meeting scheduled for 15th October, 2018 would now be held at the Ebbw Vale Learning Campus. Following a request by Members for a tour of the Campus Members were advised that this had been arranged for 29th October, 2018 and an informal notice would follow.

The Committee AGREED that the Action Sheet arising from the meeting held on 9th July, 2018 be noted.


The Chair explained that due to a Member having to leave the Meeting early he had agreed for the Member to request items on the Forward Work Programme.

- The Member referred to the number of paid Chairpersons and advisers being appointed to Governing Bodies and requested information on the cost to the Authority. The Member also referred to Officers who support governing bodies and enquired if there was a cost to the Authority in relation to time loss.

- He also requested the number of Headteachers, in both Primary and Secondary Schools that had left the Authority in the past 4 years.

The Officer explained that in relation to Officers who supported Governing Bodies, this was carried out on a voluntary basis and had no impact on the Authority.

He undertook to provide the information regarding the numbers of Headteachers leaving the Authority but explained that due to confidentiality he would not be able to share the reasons for their departure. The information regarding paid persons on Governing Bodies would be shared with the Committee.

Report (120K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (437K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director of Education which was presented to provide the opportunity for Members to scrutinise the Draft Children Missing Education (CME) Policy.

The Senior Education Welfare Officer spoke to the report and outlined the Supporting Evidence as well as the Policy.

A Member made reference to the inconsistencies throughout the Policy in relation to the mention of Parents, Guardians and Carers. He also referred to the Leaving School Form for Parents - Appendix 6, where it requests Mother's and Father's mobile telephone numbers and he felt that requesting this information could be inappropriate should the child not have parents. It was suggested more considerate wording be used. The Head of Education Transformation agreed that consistency was needed and requested the Senior Education Welfare Officer review the wording used with regards to parents, carers, etc.

Reference was made to Elective Home Education and it was felt by a Member that not enough checks were being carried out to ensure that children were being educated correctly. The Senior Education Welfare Officer responded that the Authority paid regular visits to properties and in fact had recently carried out a prosecution. A Member asked the Officer to define 'regular' and the Officer confirmed that the visits were carried out annually, however attempts were being made to increase the number of visits.

Another Member expressed concern and said that he did not feel annual visits were adequate. He felt that there was potential for many problems to occur in that time. The Inclusion Lead Officer explained that steps were being made to suggest termly visit, but assured Members that the service also worked closely with the Education Psychology Service which also supported EHE pupils. However, the Officer highlighted to Members that EHE had its own policy and was slightly different to the CME policy.

A question was asked as to whether there were links with Social Services and the children taken out of school for home education. The Officer confirmed that informal discussions were held with Social Services around EHE pupils however there were limitations in relation to Social Service's involvement that was allowed within legislation.

Following a question regarding whether there was a target to fully embed the CME policy as it had been drafted 8 years ago. The Officer responded that it was hoped the Policy would be fully embedded by the end of the year.

A Member requested for the current number of children being elective home educated. The Officer stated that there were currently 80 elective home educated children in Blaenau Gwent and the Inclusion Lead Officer emphasised that this figure was not out of proportion as numbers were rising across the whole of Wales and Great Britain. The Officer informed Members that Welsh Government is being lobbied to have a higher scrutiny of EHE and to have a mechanism in place to refuse applications for children to be Elective Home Educated.

A Member made reference to a mother residing in his Ward whose child was due to start School this week but had decided to elective home educate because she felt the child was too young to be in a school environment as in the Country she had emigrated from the school age start was 7. The Senior Education Welfare Officer explained that the Education Act required children within the UK to be educated from the age of 5 and that this information should be shared with the parent. Following discussion the Member said he would provide the necessary information regarding this case to the Education Department to enable contact with the mother.

A Member asked if it was felt that there was a trend in schools for the reason children were being elective home educated and whether children were spoken to in order to establish how they felt about being removed from school. The Officer responded that the reason a number of children were elective home educated was due to anxiety related issues however all children are offered the appropriate support with years 10 and 11 being offered support from the Youth Service and Careers Wales. The Member asked if the reasons for anxiety could possibly be due to school management or bullying, the Officer said that the reasons varied.

In relation to the 80 EHE children a Member asked how many, in percentage, were Looked After Children. The Officer explained that none of the 80 was Looked After Children.

Following concern by a Member on the increase in anxiety of children, and the CAMHS waiting lists, he requested that a report on how the Authority was dealing with this issue be brought to Committee. The Head of Education Transformation informed Members that the well-being of pupils is now high on the agenda and will be monitored and will be reported via the Education Department's Self Evaluation report.

The Chair felt it would be beneficial to have a report on performance and results of EHE visits and the Officer confirmed that The Senior Education Welfare Officer would include a section on this in the Attendance and Exclusion Report that is scheduled into the Forward Work Programme and could also include the results of those Home Educated children that have gained 5 GCSEs.

It was agreed to hold a Member Briefing Session on Elective Home Education in order to provide information on all the issues that have been highlighted in the discussion and the Advisor undertook to arrange this at the earliest convenience.

The Committee AGREED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that Option 1 be endorsed namely:

- The Scrutiny Committee scrutinise the Children Missing in Education Policy offering areas for improvement for consideration by the Executive Committee.

Report (89K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (50K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (64K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Chair of the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee which was presented for Members to consider the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee Forward Work Programme for the Special Meeting on 1st October, 2018 and the Ordinary Meeting on 15th October, 2018.

The Head of Education Transformation spoke to the report and explained that that there had been no significant changes to the previous report considered by Members.

Following a question regarding appropriate Officers from the EAS attending the meeting on 15th October, the Officer stated that the appropriate Officers would be in attendance to answer all questions.

The Chair requested congratulation letters be sent to four comprehensive Schools on the recent GCSE Exam results.

The Committee AGREED to recommend that the report be accepted and Option 2 be endorsed, namely:

- The Scrutiny Committee agree the Forward Work Programme for the meetings on 1st October and 15th October, 2018 as presented.