Agenda and draft minutes

Education, Young People & the Welsh Language Scrutiny Committee - Monday, 23rd January, 2023 10.00 am

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

Contact: Julie Owens  01267 224088

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE

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Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from co-opted member D. Elias and Councillor L. Bowen.

2.

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

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Minutes:

Member

Minute Item(s)

Nature of Interest

Cllr. Llinos Davies

5. Revenue Budget Strategy Consultation 2023/24 to 2025/26

 

Husband teaches music in a secondary school.

Carys Jones

5. Revenue Budget Strategy Consultation 2023/24 to 2025/26

2.              

Daughter in Law works under the Council’s Education and Children’s Services Department in a school within the County.

Betsan Jones

5. Revenue Budget Strategy Consultation 2023/24 to 2025/26

Son is a Headteacher in a school within the County.

 

There were no declarations of party whips.

3.

PUBLIC QUESTIONS (NONE RECEIVED)

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Minutes:

The Chair advised that no public questions had been received.

4.

THE CURRICULUM FOR WALES AND SUPPORT PROVIDED FOR SCHOOLS pdf icon PDF 109 KB

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Minutes:

The Committee considered a report which provided an overview of the support available to Carmarthenshire’s schools, specialist settings and Pupil Referral Units from the County Council and from the regional consortium, Partneriaeth, to facilitate the implementation of the Curriculum for Wales. In accordance with the Curriculum and Assessment (Wales) Act 2021, primary schools had implemented the new curriculum in September 2022, whereas Carmarthenshire secondary schools would introduce the new curriculum from September 2023.

 

The Committee thereupon received a presentation on the development of the new Curriculum for Wales which sought to ensure robust and effective pedagogy to meet the needs of individual pupils at all levels to enable schools to effectively progress in line with the aims of the National Mission. Accordingly, the new Curriculum for Wales had been organised around 6 Areas of Learning and Experience (AoLE) underpinned by the Cross Curricular Responsibilities of Literacy, Numeracy, Digital Competence and the Wider Skills.

 

The presentation detailed the nature of support provided to address the challenges faced by schools in adhering to the range of complex and mandatory elements required in the development and provision of the new curriculum. In this regard, an overview of the Partneriaeth Business Plan was provided to the Committee which had embedded the new curriculum into its strategic objectives and Professional Learning Offer, in addition to the provision of bespoke, localised support for schools. 

 

The Committee received a synopsis of the Authority’s Education and Children’s Services department Improvement Strategy which was aligned to the Welsh Government Guidance for School Improvement and aimed to work alongside schools to reflect upon the progress achieved by pupils as a result of the curriculum provision.  Consideration was also given to the Carmarthenshire Professional Learning offer for schools.  The presentation concluded that the priority areas for 2022 2023 focussed upon the following areas:

 

  • Welsh government and cross regional meetings; sharing key focus areas and expectations in a timely manner
  • Strategy and professional learning in relation to Curriculum Design; translating the theory into practice
  • Effective use financial resources
  • Skill progression
  • Cluster working 
  • Transition 
  • Assessment and progression (within each AOLE) 
  • Sharing effective practice across schools

 

The Committee welcomed the positive work being developed across the schools within Carmarthenshire, however it was acknowledged that the level of progress varied across schools.

 

The issues/observations raised by the Committee were addressed as follows:-

 

Committee considered the challenges within the context of the low uptake of professional learning offered by Partneriaeth and the perceived lack of support to schools for curriculum development.  Capacity issues within schools had been identified as a key barrier to accessing training and the level of progress varied across schools.  Accordingly, a bespoke Local Authority level approach had been implemented for Carmarthenshire to support the needs of schools and which focussed upon the provision of training to understand pupil progression (age 3-16years) in the Curriculum for Wales and to address the mandatory elements pertaining to the ‘what matters’ statements.  It was reported that training and development sessions were available to schools  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

REVENUE BUDGET STRATEGY CONSULTATION 2023/24 TO 2025/26 pdf icon PDF 90 KB

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Minutes:

[NOTE:  Councillors L.M. Davies and A.C. Jones, having earlier declared an interest in this item remained in the meeting during its consideration.  Furthermore, at this point, Councillor B.W Jones declared a personal interest on the basis that her son was employed as a Headteacher in a school within the County.  Councillor B. Jones remained in the meeting during consideration of the item].

 

The Committee considered the Council’s Revenue Budget Strategy 2023/24 to 2025/26 which provided a current view of the revenue budget for 2023/2024 together with indicative figures for the 2024/25 and 2025/26 financial years.  The report was based on officers’ projections of spending requirements and took account of the provisional settlement issued by Welsh Government (WG) on 14 December 2022.

 

It was emphasised that whilst significant work had already been undertaken in preparing the budget, the report represented an initial position statement which would be updated following the consultation process.  Accordingly, Members were reminded that the report had been considered by the Cabinet at its meeting on 09 January 2023 and members of the Committee had attended recent consultation events which had provided an opportunity to analyse and seek clarification on various aspects of the budget.

 

The report indicated that, after adjustments for WG, identified transfers, the increase in the provisional settlement for Carmarthenshire was 8.5% (£26.432 million). The Aggregate External Finance (AEF) had therefore increased to £338.017 million in 2023/24.  Whilst the settlement represented a significant increase to the indicative figure of 3.4%, the financial model forecasted a requirement for £20m savings over the three year Medium Term Financial Plan (MTFP) period.

 

Committee’s attention was drawn to section 3.5 of the budget strategy whereby an overview of the schools’ delegated budgets was provided to Members. It was noted that many service-specific grants would remain at a broadly similar level (cash value) to previous years which would, in reality reduce outputs given the impact of pay awards and general inflation.  The Cabinet Member for Resources was however pleased to report that the Additional Learning Needs Transformation Grant and the Pupil Development Grant had been enhanced, and furthermore, WG funding had been provided to flatline the Recruit Recover Retain Standards (RRRS) grant, instead of the planned reduction, and this would enable schools to continue with their post-covid recovery activities.

 

Reference was made to the independent pay review body’s recommendation of a 5% increase for all Teachers which had been accepted by WG; however, it was acknowledged that the National Education Union (NEU) members had voted in favour of industrial action in a bid for a 12% pay uplift. Committee noted that the draft budget included the 1% “catchup” to 5%, however any further increases would be unfunded and represent an additional financial pressure of approximately £1m for every 1% increase in pay.

 

The Committee thereupon considered the following detailed budget information appended to the Strategy, relevant to its remit:-

 

·       Appendix A(i) – Efficiency summary for the Education & Children’s Services Department.

·       Appendix A(ii) – Growth Pressures summary for the Education  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

EXPLANATION FOR NON-SUBMISSION OF SCRUTINY REPORT pdf icon PDF 78 KB

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Minutes:

The Committee received an explanation for the non-submission of the following scrutiny reports:

 

·       Corporate Strategy and Education and Children’s Services draft Business Plan

·       10 Year Social Services Strategy

 

RESOLVED that the explanation for the non-submissions be noted.

7.

SCRUTINY ACTIONS UPDATE pdf icon PDF 101 KB

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Minutes:

The Committee received a report which detailed the progress achieved in relation to requests or referrals emerging from previous meetings during the 2022/23 municipal year.

 

RESOLVED that the report be received.

 

8.

FORTHCOMING ITEMS pdf icon PDF 73 KB

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Minutes:

The Committee reviewed the list of forthcoming items to be considered at its next meeting to be held on 16 March 2023, which had been derived from the

Committee’s Forward Work Plan 2022/23. The Chair emphasised that the Forward Work Plan was a flexible document that could be updated as required throughout the year as new information emerges. Accordingly, a further Forward Work Planning session would be held on conclusion of the meeting to review the Committee’s priorities for 2022/23 in accordance with the Cabinet Forward Work Plan.

 

RESOLVED that the list of forthcoming items to be considered at the next scheduled meeting on 16 March, 2023 be noted.

 

9.

TO SIGN AS A CORRECT RECORD THE MINUTES OF THE MEETING OF THE COMMITTEE HELD ON THE 1ST DECEMBER, 2022 pdf icon PDF 132 KB

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Minutes:

UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 1st December, 2022 be signed as a correct record.