Agenda and draft minutes

Education & Children Scrutiny Committee
Monday, 26th November, 2018 10.00 am

Venue: Chamber, - County Hall, Carmarthen. SA31 1JP.. View directions

Contact: Michelle Evans Thomas  01267 224470

Items
No. Item

1.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

Minutes:

Apologies for were received from Councillors L. Bowen and I.W. Davies and from Mrs G. Cornock-Evans and Mr J. Davies (Parent Governor Members) and from Councillor K. Davies, A. McPherson and E. Morgan (members of the Social Care & Health Scrutiny Committee).

2.

DECLARATIONS OF PERSONAL INTEREST INCLUDING ANY PARTY WHIPS ISSUED IN RELATION TO ANY AGENDA ITEM.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of personal interest

 

Councillor

Minute Item(s)

Nature of Interest

B.W. Jones

6 – Carmarthenshire Admissions Forum – Review of Admissions Round 2018/19 and Admission Arrangements 2019/20 and 2020/21

Her son teaches at Ysgol Parc-y-Tywyn

B.W. Jones

7 – MEP School Organisation Code 2018

Her son teaches at Ysgol Parc-y-Tywyn

D. Jones

5 – Early Voluntary Retirement and Redundancy Budget

Her sister and brother-in-law work in the Education Department

D. Jones

8 – Revenue and Capital Budget Monitoring Report 2018/19

Her sons are members of the Carmarthenshire Music Service

G. Jones

5 – Early Voluntary Retirement and Redundancy Budget

His wife works in the Education Department

E. Schiavone

5 – Early Voluntary Retirement and Redundancy Budget

His wife works in Q.E. High School

 

 

There were no declarations of prohibited party whips.

 

3.

PUBLIC QUESTIONS

Minutes:

The Chair advised that no public questions had been received.

4.

CARMARTHENSHIRE YOUNG CARERS AND YOUNG ADULT CARER SERVICES. pdf icon PDF 125 KB

Minutes:

The Committee received a presentation providing an overview of the services available for young carers and young adult carers across Carmarthenshire, which included the following:-

 

-  a young carer is someone under 18 whose life is restricted because of the

   need to take responsibility for a family member due to sickness, disability,

   mental health or alcohol and drug problems;

-  a young adult carer is someone who is between 16 and 25;

-  there are 11,500 young carers in Wales;

-  the average age of a young carer is 12 years old;

-  64% of young carers have been caring for 3 or more years and 1:5 miss

   school because of their caring responsibilities;

-  1 in 3 young carers spend between 11 and 20 hours per week caring;

-  1 in 12 secondary aged pupils are young carers;

-  there are many issues which may affect young carers including loneliness,

   depression; lack of sleep, educational difficulties, social isolation, trust

   issues, bullying and suicidal thoughts.

 

Carmarthenshire Young Carers Service currently supports approximately 40 young carers up to the age of 18.  This support includes holiday activities, referral onto appropriate agencies, a break from caring, focussed support, advocacy and peer support. 

 

The following questions/observations were raised on the presentation:-

 

·       Asked how the service in promoted in colleges, the Committee was advised that it is mainly the Young Adult Carer Service which is involved with colleges where they do drop-in sessions twice a week.  The service has excellent links with the mentors in the colleges in the county;

·       Asked how the service supports home educated children, the Committee was advised that, as an Authority, we have an Elective Home Education policy and those children who are home educated and have been identified as being carers and may be vulnerable are monitored and supported by the service.  Any children who have enrolled in a school but then opt out must inform the Local Authority, however, if a child has never enrolled in a school there is no requirement to register and it is more difficult to identify these children.  In the past, forms used by the service in relation to parental mental health have only asked if there are any children in the home.  These forms are being amended to ask if the children are in full time education which will assist in this regard;

·       Reference was made to the importance of identifying young carers and offices were asked if they attend school assemblies and ask those who care for a family members to raise their hands.  The Committee was advised that this is no longer done as many young carers do not want people to know.  Other initiatives are used instead such as competitions to identify which celebrities were young carers.  This involves the young person including their name on the form which includes a tick box asking if they are a young carer and if they need help;

·       Asked what elected members can do to support the service, the Committee  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

EARLY VOLUNTARY RETIREMENT AND REDUNDANCY BUDGET. pdf icon PDF 103 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

[NOTE:  Councillors D, Jones, G. Jones and E. Schiavone had earlier declared an interest in this item.]

 

The Committee considered a report providing an update on the Early Voluntary Retirement and Redundancy Budget, following a request by the Committee earlier in the year for further details on the approach taken and progress made in relation to School Redundancy and Early Voluntary Retirement (EVR).

 

The School Funding (Wales) Regulations 2010 established that expenditure in respect of the dismissal or premature retirement of any person and expenditure in respect of teachers’ emoluments are part of the Local Authority budget.  These costs are outside the direct control of the Department but the Department will seek to work with schools and trade unions to reduce the overall impact of staff termination costs.

 

School based staff are recruited by Governing Bodies and are employees of Carmarthenshire County Council.  Schools can have a budget shortfall due to a range of issues but predominantly it is due to a falling pupil roll.  When that happens it can lead to a review of staffing and potential reductions in the school workforce.  When staff become surplus to requirements the costs of releasing the staff are borne by the Council. 

 

The budget allocated to address Early Voluntary Retirement and Redundancy costs is held by the Department of Education & Children’s Services.  The majority of the budget is locked in as it relates to pension contributions and other costs for staff released in previous years.  Elements of these costs will continue until pensioners die.  There is less than £100k budget available to meet new expenditure arising within the year, which is giving rise to a significant projected over-spend in the current year.  For a number of years this budget has been under considerable pressure and has persistently over-spent over recent years by significant amounts.  Current predictions are that the budget will overspend by £300k in 2018/19.

 

With further significant rationalisation of the schools network planned through the MEP, some rural primary schools experiencing a continuing decline in forecast pupil numbers despite a generally increasing birth rate, and with secondary school pupil numbers forecast to decline for a couple of years yet, there is little prospect of the pressures on this budget easing in the foreseeable future.  Officers have been reviewing processes and practice in order to better manage expenditure and ensure that all business cases presented are robustly challenged.  Some changes made to date include:-

 

- the Premature Retirement and Redundancy Discretionary Compensation

  and School Safer Recruitment Policies have been reviewed and updated;

- the discretionary “added years” element has been removed;

- regular meetings are held between Finance, Human Resources and

  Education to consider this agenda;

- all current school structures have been analysed in order to develop a

  “Carmarthenshire Model School Staffing Structure” for different sized

  Schools;

- a “Change Review Panel” process has been developed to challenge schools

  on their plans which aligns the school process with the corporate process.

 

The following questions/observations were raised on the report:-

 

·       Reference  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

CARMARTHENSHIRE ADMISSIONS FORUM - REVIEW OF ADMISSION ROUND 2018/19 AND ADMISSION ARRANGEMENTS 2019/20 AND 2020/21. pdf icon PDF 127 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

[NOTE:  Councillor B.W. Jones had earlier declared an interest in this item.]

 

The Committee considered a report providing a review of the Admission Round 2018/19 and Admission Arrangements 2019/20 and 2020/21, following a request by the Committee earlier in the year for a report on the school admissions and appeals process.

 

The Committee considered a report providing a detailed overview and position statement with regard to school admission arrangements.  This report is presented to the Admissions Forum for consideration and review every year.   

 

It was noted that Local Authorities, Governing Bodies of maintained schools, Admission Appeals Panels and Admissions Forums have school admission functions assigned to them under the School Standards and Framework Act 1988.  Each of these bodies has a statutory duty to act in accordance with the School Admissions Code and the School Admission Appeals Code.

 

The following questions/observations were raised on the report:-

 

·       Asked if there was any intention to move from three admissions per year to one for 3 and 4 years, the Committee was advised that this is being currently being discussed as part of the review of the Authority’s admission arrangements;

·       Reference was made to the fact that when a child with SEN joins a school there is no additional support for the school and officers were asked if there are any plans to change that because it puts a lot of stress on the school.  The Committee was advised that in such instances each case is considered on an individual basis.  There is no funding available, however, resources are used as effectively and efficiently as possible;

·       Reference was made to capacity within the sector and officers were asked if the MEP and WESP are factored in.  The Committee was advised that with regards to primary schools it is fundamentally around investment.  For secondary schools, if a significant increase or decrease in capacity is proposed then there is a statutory process which must be followed.

 

RESOLVED that the report be received.

 

 

7.

MODERNISING EDUCATION PROGRAMME - SCHOOL ORGANISATION CODE 2018. pdf icon PDF 150 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

[NOTE:  Councillor B.W. Jones had earlier declared an interest in this item.]

 

The Committee considered the Modernising Education Programme School Organisation Code 2018.  The previous Code came into force on 1st October, 2013.  Following three years of operation the Welsh Government reviewed the Code, reflecting on learning and feedback received.

 

From the 1st November, 2018 the Welsh Government implemented an updated School Organisation Code.  These changes alter the requirements to take forward proposals which involve changes to schools, new schools or school closures.  The most substantial change is the strengthening of the code in respect of a presumption against closure of rural schools.

 

The following questions/observations were raised on the report:-

 

·       The definition of a “rural school” was queried and officers were asked if the schools included in the list have been validated to make sure that they are in fact rural schools.  The Committee was advised that the information has not been validated by the Authority as the Welsh Government has utilised a “rural and urban” classification formula for identifying schools across Wales;

·       Reference was made to the list of rural schools included in the report and officers were asked why Llanddarog is not included in the list.  The Committee was advised that officers have taken the step to include the additional stage in the consultation process for all schools to keep the process as fair as possible.

 

RESOLVED that the report be received.

 

 

 

 

8.

REVENUE AND CAPITAL BUDGET MONITORING REPORT 2018/19. pdf icon PDF 147 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

[NOTE:  Councillor D. Jones had earlier declared an interest in this item.]

 

The Committee considered the Revenue and Capital Budget Monitoring Report in relation to the Education and Children Service which provided an update on the latest budgetary position as at 31st August, 2018, in respect of the 2018/19 financial year.

 

The Education and Children Service was projecting an overspend of £1,905k on the revenue budget and a variance of +£756k against the 2018/19 approved capital budget. 

 

The following questions/observations were raised on the report:-

 

·       Reference was made to the fact that schools set their budgets in March but they do not receive their grant allocation until October and concern was expressed that by the end of the year they are in deficit because they did not receive as much as they were expecting.  The Committee was advised that officers are also frustrated at this situation.  Last year was the longest delay experienced, however, it was totally beyond the Authority’s control;

·       Officers were asked about the current position with regard to additional funding for the music service. The Committee was advised that between £52k-£58k will be allocated to the service in the next financial year.  A paper is being produced on the future of the service which will be presented to the Corporate Management Team for consideration in the first instance;

·       Reference was made to problems with the Health Service not contributing their share and officers were asked about the current position.  The Committee was informed that the Authority is continuing to face difficulties in trying to convince health colleagues to part with their contribution.

 

RESOLVED that the report be received.

 

9.

EDUCATION & CHILDREN SCRUTINY COMMITTEE ANNUAL REPORT 2017/18. pdf icon PDF 147 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received an Annual Report detailing the work of the Committee during the 2017/18 municipal year.  The report had been prepared in accordance with Article 6.2 of the Council’s Constitution which requires Scrutiny Committees to prepare an annual report giving an account of the Committee’s activities over the previous year.

 

The report provided an overview of the Committee’s work programme and the key issues considered during the year including those issues referred to/from the Executive Board and other Scrutiny Committees.  The report also provided details of development sessions and site visits arranged for the Committee as well as attendance data.

 

RESOLVED that the Education & Children Scrutiny Committee’s Annual Report 2017/18 be endorsed.

 

10.

EDUCATION & CHILDREN SCRUTINY COMMITTEE ACTIONS AND REFERRALS UPDATE. pdf icon PDF 139 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report detailing the progress achieved in relation

to actions, requests or referrals emerging from previous meetings of the Committee.

 

RESOLVED that the report be received.

 

 

11.

EXPLANATION FOR NON-SUBMISSION OF SCRUTINY REPORTS. pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted the reasons for the non-submission of the following reports:-

 

-  Youth Support Service Business Plan

-  Local Authority Education Services Self Evaluation

 

RESOLVED that the information be noted.

 

12.

FORTHCOMING ITEMS. pdf icon PDF 114 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the list of forthcoming items for the next meeting. 

In view of the need to allocate sufficient time for effective scrutiny of the revenue budget and departmental business plan, it was felt that the number of other items on the agenda should be limited.  It was therefore proposed that the Healthy Schools Initiative be moved to the January meeting and consequently, the New Children’s Zone be moved from January to the March meeting.

 

RESOLVED that the list of forthcoming items to be considered at the next scheduled meeting to be held on 20th December, 2018, minus the

Healthy Schools Initiative report, be agreed.

 

13.

TO SIGN AS A CORRECT RECORD THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE COMMITTEE HELD ON THE 27TH SEPTEMBER, 2018. pdf icon PDF 192 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on the 27th September, 2018 be signed as a correct record.