Meeting documents

Education and Learning Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 13th March, 2019 9.30 am

Date: Wednesday 13th March 2019 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

COUNCILLOR MARTIN COOK (VICE-CHAIR)

Councillors: P. Baldwin
D. Bevan
J. Collins
G. A. Davies
P. Edwards
L. Elias
J. Hill
J. Holt
J. C. Morgan
J. P. Morgan
L. Parsons
T. Smith

Corporate Director � Education & Learning
Head of Education Transformation - Education
Inclusion Lead Officer � Education
Education Transformation Manager - Education
Scrutiny Advisor
CHAIR & MEMBERS OF THE COUNCILDEMOCRATIC SERVICES OFFICER - DEMOCRATIC & CORPORATE SUPPORT
Item
No
Item/Resolution Status Action
PUBLIC
1. TUDALEN GLAWR AGENDA GYMRAEG/WELSH VERSION OF AGENDA COVERSHEET
Tudalen Glawr Agenda Gymraeg/Welsh Version of Agenda Coversheet (168K/bytes)
Noted
2. SIMULTANEOUS TRANSLATION

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

Noted
3. APOLOGIES

Apology for absence was received from Councillor M. Day

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Co-Opted Members � A. Williams and T. Baxter
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Noted
4. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND DISPENSATIONS

No declarations of interest or dispensations were reported.

Noted
5. SCHOOL ADMISSIONS POLICY CONSULTATION OUT-TURN REPORT
Report (115K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (635K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (170K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Head of Education Transformation which was presented to provide Members with the outcome of the Annual Review and Consultation Process associated with the Blaenau Gwent Admissions Policy for Nursery and Statutory Education.


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

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� Purpose of the Report
� Scope and Background
� Options for Recommendation
� Evidence
� Implications Against Each Option

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In response to a question regarding complex admissions the Education Transformation Manager explained that where this occurred, a number of stakeholders would become involved to ensure that relevant places were allocated at the appropriate schools and carried out on the context of each particular case, ensuring support was in place for each pupil.

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A Member referred to pupils who were unable to be allocated a place within the school of their choice and asked that if, or when, a vacancy at the preferred school became available would that child be notified. The Officer stated that the process differs dependent on the type of admission and that notification of vacancies would not be given if it had not been requested that the pupil remains on the waiting list for the school in question, as it was felt important to maintain stability for the pupil upon admittance. If a place became available and a pupil was on a waiting list, then the offer of a place would be made in line with the oversubscription criteria. The Member felt that financially it would be more beneficial for the pupil to be offered a placement at their nearest school. It was explained that the next nearest placement considers transport and other implications.

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Following a question regarding admission numbers and whether staffing would be taken into account. The Officer confirmed that it would be and explained that in terms of capacity assessment, there was a set formula in line with the Measuring Capacity of Schools in Wales Guidance (2011), to determine schools capacity and admission numbers for nursery, reception and secondary. Capacities were reviewed and approved by Headteachers in line with their requirements i.e. staffing, facilities etc., on an annual basis

A Member expressed surprise at the reduction in the birth rate on figure 3 of the report and asked if this was primarily due to migration. The Officer explained that the birth rate reflects the number of live births in a year, which is updated twice annually. Migration is not a factor in line with the decrease in birth rate; it is reflective of the number of births which have slightly declined in recent years; however, in line with in-year transfers, migration is on the up with over 200 pupils moving into Blaenau Gwent during the 2018/19 academic year.

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Concern was raised in relation to the low number of Nursery applications received in-time and a question asked whether the Department would be looking at ways of improving the rate of in-time applications. The Officer agreed that this had been an ongoing issue across the region for a number of years and various methods had been attempted to look at early engagement with parents by way of leaflets delivered to all houses in Blaenau Gwent, drop-in sessions at schools, admissions team support offer, online applications, school support etc. Options were also being explored to improve the quality of two-way engagement via online admissions. Discussions have taken place with both Capita One and CACI; however, this may have cost implications. Negotiations with CACI are still underway.

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A Member referred to the Supporting Evidence � 6.2 of the report regarding the allocation of schools and asked what the procedure would be for siblings attending different schools. He also asked if there was evidence that parents selected schools because of categorisation. The Officer responded that in relation to siblings, which forms part of the oversubscription criteria whereby siblings are given priority in line with the standard admission round. In-year transfers however, are based upon place availability and wherever possible the team look to manage and prioritise siblings. She continued that with regard to selecting a school there appeared to be an ongoing trend of pupils wanting to access schools outside of their catchment area; however there was no evidence to support the reasons being related to categorisation, this has not been mentioned as a reason for application.


A Member asked on 6.6 of the report, how many appeals had been received in the last year, of these how many had been upheld; and what would be the cost to the authority to contest these. The Officer discussed the appeals process and detailed the two types of appeal and how they are heard. The Officer confirmed that there had been 8 appeals during the past year, where one of the 8, a class size appeal, had been upheld in favour of the authority. She discussed that the financial implications for the Council relate to expenses and agreed to provide the expenses associated with appeals for 2018/19.

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A question was asked regarding the make-up of the Appeals Panel and the Officer explained that this was an independent panel shared with Caerphilly and had 3 members including 2 former headteachers and a lay person as well as a legal Clerk from Blaenau Gwent Council, whose job was to advise on compliance with the Welsh Government Admissions and Admissions Appeal Codes and prepare paperwork on behalf of the panel detailing the outcome of the appeal.

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A Member referred to 6.7 � Integration Across Service Areas and asked if sufficient places were available for pupils of nursery age. The Officer confirmed that there were no sufficiency issues at present, with the Beaufort Hill being the only School at capacity.

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A question was asked about what procedure would be used regarding double applications, and the Officer explained that in relation to dual applications, conversations were held with the other authorities and schools who act as their own admission authority i.e. the faith and foundation schools in line with allocations. Parents of the pupils are then asked to confirm their preference.

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Congratulations were given to the Education Transformation Manager for her professionalism and the excellent in-depth report.

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The Committee AGREED to recommend, subject to the foregoing that Option 1 be endorsed, namely that the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee recommend that the Executive endorse the Policy Document and its subsequent publication.
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Noted
6. SCHOOL CATEGORISATION
Report (142K/bytes)
Appendix 1 (47K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (69K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director of Education which was presented to provide Members with the new National School Categorisation System and Blaenau Gwent School Categorisation Profile for 2019.

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The Committee AGREED that this Item be DEFERRED.

Noted