To receive the report of the Corporate
Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director of Education and the Director – Resources, Business and Governance (EAS) who presented the report which described the outcomes of an external report on the value for money (VfM) of the Regional Service in 2018/19.
A Member referred to the external consultants conclusion and felt that assurances were needed that to achieve the desired educational outcomes a collective effort from Executive and Scrutiny Members, the EAS and Schools was needed to drive further improvements. The responsibility and accountability rested with everyone. The Executive Member for Education offered a level of assurance and confirmed that a collective approach would be used.
The Director of Education gave examples of performance improvements such as language and literature for 7 year olds, A* grades and level 6 English had improved. Working jointly in an holistic way had demonstrated clear improvements with the Directorates Service Plan. There was a range of services committed to joint working and raising pupil ambitions.
A Member enquired if the emerging picture of Blaenau Gwent was mirrored across the whole EAS region and felt that concerns needed to be addressed. The Director of Education said regular monthly meetings were held and any emerging concerns could be raised. Discussions also included areas that needed additional challenge to schools. Wider group meetings were held every half term between EAS officers, Inclusion officers, Youth Service, Legal officers and officers from Organisational Development, all shared relevant information to provide additional support where needed and hold the EAS to account.
The EAS representative commented that communication and information was shared at half termly meetings between the five regions with a view to a shared strategy and shared knowledge of individual schools to ensure that appropriate support and challenge had been provided to secure the necessary pace of improvement. The meetings were recorded and actions reviewed at the next meeting.
The Member referred to the differences in school performance. The Director of Education said that the Governor structure included the five local authorities Directors of Education to consider and challenge EAS inspection reports.
In response to a Member’s question regarding the 2% ISB being put in the general reserve, the Executive Member for Education advised that this would be part of the wider discussion on the Council budget.
A Member commented that he welcomed the report but expressed concerns regarding educational outcomes in the EAS regions and enquired regarding the proportion of Challenge Advisors appointed to primary and secondary schools and the Mentor support for secondary schools and requested a breakdown of these figures. The EAS representative said
· there was a commitment to capacity building through Mentor support demonstrated by the spending of some £167,000 to fund the programme;
· there was an acknowledgment of secondary school performance.
· National categorisation - the EAS was accurate and robust in their categorisation with five local authorities support.
· Challenge Advisors – changes within secondary schools had been owing to national changes as well as strategic decisions.
· Significant strength in leadership in primary schools.
A Member requested percentages and numbers of Challenge Advisers supporting primary and secondary schools. The EAS representative would provide the numbers requested.
A Member raised concerns around the ISB budget for schools, PDG and FSM had dropped and felt that the Executive Member needed to be aware of this issue. A Member commented that these issues would be considered at a future budget meeting.
The Committee AGREED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that the report be accepted and endorse Option 1; namely that Members provided feedback thereby engaged in self-evaluation processes prior to recommending for approval by the Executive.