Agenda item

TRANSFORMATION, INNOVATION CHANGE (TIC), INCLUDING SCHOOL BUDGETS

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report which provided an overview of the Schools’ Transformation Programme which had been introduced in 2017 to support schools in meeting significant financial challenges.  The Committee was informed that the programme aimed to apply the Authority’s core transformation principles of collaborative working and challenging existing practices to support schools in taking advantage of cost saving opportunities and service improvements, by way of a sustainable approach, across a wide range of activities, whilst also maintaining good pupil outcomes.

 

The Committee thereupon received a presentation which detailed the progress made to date in delivering the key priority areas, as follows:

  • Benchmarking – curriculum and routine spend benchmarking exercise undertaken across secondary schools in 2022/23 to share good practice amongst schools.
  • Financial Efficiency Templates– developed to support discussions with 9 schools in challenging financial positions.
  • Schools’ Property ‘Handyvan’ Service – a fully funded 2 year pilot underway across primary schools to enhance value for money.
  • Review of School Grounds’ Maintenance Service – a re-modelled Service Level Agreement (SLA) specification developed to provide greater flexibility for schools to derive efficiency savings with the provision of a bespoke, customer orientated approach.
  • Implement findings of schools SLA Review – provision of a consistent approach with clear lines of communication to enable schools to deal with issues.
  • Administration – Exploration of new approaches, using cluster-based models, to back office and support functions in primary schools.
  • Procurement - Identification of savings opportunities, including economies of scale and Best Value approaches to procurement.
  • Communication- regular engagement and sharing of good practice between schools.
  • School Suitability Surveys – new template developed and ongoing surveys of all schools to support evidence base for School Improvement Plan (SIP) Review.
  • Rising 4s Policy - deferred to 2024 pending further investigation of impact and implications.
  • Additional Learning Needs (ALN) funding models - engagement with headteachers to develop new funding models to suit ALN Transformation.
  • School Catchment Area Review to be undertaken in line with the Sustainable Communities for Learning programme.

 

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

 

Arising from the presentation and in response to a query, the School’s Transformation and Change Manager clarified that the benchmarking exercise for 2022/23 had been completed for secondary schools only due to logistical issues, the purpose of which was to provide schools with information to stimulate discussions and support decision making processes.  Reference was made to a previous benchmarking exercise undertaken across primary schools which had been divided according to size groups.  It was however acknowledged that such groupings would not necessarily be reflective of school cohorts, particularly due to the variable age of school estates, and this was an area which would be considered going forward. The Director of Education and Children’s Services reported that a request would be made for Headteachers of secondary schools to circulate benchmarking information with school governors as a means of raising awareness of the information provided by the Transformation Programme.  Furthermore, the School’s Transformation and Change Manager would be invited to the next meeting of the Governors Forum to provide and overview of the work undertaken.

 

In response to a comment in respect of the organisation of primary schools and the perceived limited role of governing bodies, the Director of Education and Children’s Services clarified that legislation prescribed the range of responsibilities for primary schools, by way of a delegated budget provision.  Accordingly, the Service Level Agreement (SLA) model enabled schools to purchase services from different departments according to the area of expertise.  The role of the Transformation Programme was therefore centred upon quality assurance, in addition to raising awareness of the SLAs and the services available to schools.

 

The School’s Transformation and Change Manager, in response to a query regarding capacity to provide individual assistance to schools with budgetary matters and property maintenance services, explained that support was provided within the resources available and prioritised by the Local Authority. 

 

In response to comments made regarding capacity to deliver the aims of the Schools Transformation Programme, The Director of Education and Children’s Services was pleased to report that funding had been provided for the secondment of two headteachers to provide part-time support to drive forward the Schools Transformation Programme. 

 

Reference was made to the Headteacher ‘drop in’ sessions introduced to communicate and engage with schools.  The School’s Transformation and Change Manager explained that weekly bulletins were circulated to schools to promote the areas for discussion, therefore attendance levels would depend upon the level of interest by schools in the focus area.

 

The School’s Transformation and Change Manager, in response to a query, clarified that whilst the change in telephony system across schools would require an initial financial outlay, schools would then receive receive free calls, following which long-term financial savings would be derived.

 

The Director of Education and Children’s Services conveyed his gratitude to the School’s Transformation and Change Manager in respect of the positive work being developed to support the schools within Carmarthenshire.

 

UNANIMOUSLY RESOLVED that the report be received.

 

Supporting documents: