Venue: BY VIDEO CONFERENCE
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Councillor David Williams and Co-opted Education Member Neil Roberts
To elect the Committee’s Vice-Chair for the municipal year 2021/22 (copy of the role description for scrutiny member and Chair/Vice Chair attached).
Nominations were sought for the office of Vice-Chair of the Committee for the 2021/22 municipal year. Councillor Arwel Roberts nominated Councillor Hugh Irving for the position of Committee Vice-Chair. Councillor Bob Murray seconded Councillor Irving’s nomination. No other nominations were received and the Committee unanimously –
RESOLVED to elect Councillor Hugh Irving as its Vice-Chair for the 2021/22 municipal year.
Councillor Irving thanked Committee members for their continued support.
Members to declare any personal or prejudicial interests in any business identified to be considered at this meeting.
The following members declared a personal interest in agenda items 6 & 7 –
Councillor Ellie Chard – School Governor Ysgol Tir Morfa
Councillor Meirick Davies – School Governor Ysgol Cefn Meiriadog
Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts – Parent & School Governor Ysgol Pen Barras
Councillor Hugh Irving – School Governor Prestatyn High School
Councillor Arwel Roberts – School Governor Ysgol y Castell
Councillor Peter Scott – School Governor St. Asaph VP Infants School
URGENT MATTERS AS AGREED BY THE CHAIR
Notice of items which, in the opinion of the Chair, should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency pursuant to Section 100B(4) of the Local Government Act 1972.
No urgent matters had been raised.
To receive the minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee held on 18 March 2021 (copy attached).
The minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee held on 18 March 2021 were submitted.
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 18 March 2021 be received and approved as a correct record.
No matters were raised in relation to the content of the minutes.
To consider a joint report by GwE Core Leads and the Interim Head of Education (copy attached) on how the regional consortium, in partnership with the Local Authority, are supporting schools in the implementation of the New Curriculum for Wales following the publication of the Donaldson Report ‘Successful Futures’.
10.10 am – 10.55 am
The Chair welcomed to the meeting Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts (Lead Member for Education, Children’s Services and Public Engagement) and the Interim Head of Education together with GwE Representatives Mair Herbert and Jacqueline Chan. GwE as the Regional School Improvement Service was leading on the development and supporting schools in the implementation of the new curriculum for Wales following the publication of the Donaldson Report ‘Successful Futures’.
Councillor Hilditch-Roberts introduced the report (previously circulated) on how the regional consortium, in partnership with the local authority, were supporting schools in the implementation of the new curriculum, detailing the significant work undertaken in order to provide assurance to the Committee in that regard. He referred to the new curriculum as a positive way forward for teaching and the four main aims to help children and young people to be: ambitious and capable learners, enterprising and creative, ethical and informed citizens and healthy and confident. The impact of Covid 19 on schools and their preparation for implementing the new curriculum was highlighted together with work ongoing at various levels from individual schools, school clusters, across county, the region and nationally in order to share best practice. The Interim Head of Education added that the focus of the new curriculum was for each child to learn in the way that was right for them. The improvement and support offer for schools was aimed at supporting all practitioners with a focus on key themes around leadership, planning, vision, pedagogy and professional learning. Consultative workshops had been held to ensure the best offer was provided to schools with an excellent response and positive feedback from head teachers in both primary and secondary sectors keen to work together and ensure consistency. The work carried out by GwE was key to ensuring schools were ready for implementation of the new curriculum in September 2022.
The efforts to support schools had been detailed in the report and included –
· working with other regional consortia to develop a national professional learning offer that integrated all aspects of the wider reform
· a planned sequence of professional learning and training across the region with cluster-based sessions available for schools
· facilitating sessions for schools within a cluster to work collaboratively to strategically plan for implementation of the curriculum with activities to support those preparations having been identified within School Development Plans
· provided examples of planned activities to further prepare for the new curriculum including developing a shared vision; collaborating on common approaches to teaching and learning and within a specific Area of Learning and Experience
· additional support from GwE would be available for schools to access at both cluster and individual level including tailored bespoke support where needed
· further support included a series of ‘Think-Pieces’ written by GwE as part of the weekly reform sessions with Professor Donaldson covering key aspects of the curriculum reform journey being made available to schools
· in readiness for September 2022 work was ongoing with partners to develop a wide range of qualitative indicators to allow schools to reflect on how they were implementing the four aims of the new curriculum
· prior to lockdown over 90% of schools indicated they were either partly on track or better in their knowledge and understanding of the new framework; nearly all schools indicated they were partly on track or better with their engagement and participation in cluster work for preparing for the new curriculum. Work had continued since then to ensure progress to implementation remained on track.
During the ensuing debate the Lead Member, Interim Head of Service and GwE Representatives responded to members’ comments and questions as follows –
· the important ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To consider a joint report by the Principal Education Manager and the Inclusion Officer – ALN Implementation (copy attached) on progress made to ensure the local authority and schools are ready to meet their statutory requirements under the upcoming Additional Learning Needs and Educational Tribunal (Wales) Act 2018.
10.55 am – 11.30 am
Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts, Lead Member for Education, Children’s Services and Public Engagement introduced the report (previously circulated) detailing progress made to ensure the local authority and schools were ready to meet their statutory requirements under the upcoming Additional Learning Needs and Education Tribunal (Wales) (ALNET) Act 2018.
The ALNET Act 2018, supported by regulations and an Additional Learning Needs Code, would replace the current Special Educational Needs (SEN) Code of Practice for Wales (2002). The Act replaced the terms ‘special educational needs’ (SEN) and ‘learning difficulties and/or learning disabilities’ (LDD) with the new term ‘additional learning needs’ (ALN). The Act created a single system with a single statutory plan, the Individual Development Plan (IDP) which would replace existing plans such as Individual Education Plans, Statements of SEN and Learning and Skills Plans.
Councillor Hilditch-Roberts highlighted the additional work created by the introduction of the new Act with no extra funding being made available for its implementation. He commended the response and commitment from staff and stakeholders in progressing the necessary requirements and putting children first, which again reflected the positive approach and way of working in Denbighshire. It was explained that the ALN transformation programme created a unified system for supporting learners from 0 to 25 years with ALN in order to deliver a fully inclusive education system in Wales delivered through five key themes. The new ALN system was expected to go live in September 2021.
The Committee was guided through the report and actions taken in order to meet the new statutory requirements which included, in brief –
· Regional – Denbighshire continued to work collaboratively across the region and had produced an update report showing how Denbighshire was working towards implementation of the ALN reforms. There were various regional working groups with Denbighshire leading on the Educated Other Than at School (EOTAS) and Looked After Children (LAC) working groups
· Training – staff had been offered Person Centred Practice training, half termly meetings/workshops with school representatives had taken place, and regional training provided by the North Wales ALN Transformation Team. There was also access to training for elected members and other stakeholders
· Budgets – School ALN funding was now fully delegated to schools, working towards a 3 year rolling average to allow schools to plan more effectively
· IT System – Denbighshire, Flintshire, Conwy and Wrexham joined to procure a new IT system (ECLIPSE) to manage the new ALN processes effectively
· Learner Support – The Team Around the School had been established to continue to meet the current requirements of the statutory assessment process and the Act in relation to early intervention, prevention and identification of ALN
· Provision – work was ongoing with schools to map out their provision, including interventions and strategies used to support learners with and without ALN. This would provide a clear understanding for determining need and provision
· Individual Development Plan (IDP) – the IDP had been trialled in a small selection of schools in preparation for the new legislation; the single plan would ensure consistency and continuity and safeguard provision and rights
· Documentation – a ‘Learner Profile’ was being developed to capture the support, progress and targets of learners in need of targeted support that may not be defined as ALN and work with schools was ongoing to create an ALN/Inclusion protocol for schools to adopt
· School Readiness – schools had been supported with the new compulsory ALN Coordinator role and guidance provided. Schools had also completed the GwE milestones (guide targets to meet the required ALN reforms) and support was offered to schools where requested
· Financial Implications – the local authority continued to utilise ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
To consider a joint report by the Strategic Planning Team Manager and Strategic Planning and Performance Team Leader (copy attached) providing a quarterly and end of year analysis of the progress in delivery of the Corporate Plan and highlighting specific projects and action for delivery in 2021 to 2022.
11.45 am – 12.15 pm
Councillor Julian Thompson-Hill, Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets introduced the report (previously circulated) which provided a quarterly and end of year analysis of the progress in delivery of the Corporate Plan and highlighted specific projects and actions for delivery in 2021 to 2022. Feedback was sought on the draft Annual Performance Review 2020 to 2021 prior to approval of the final document by Council in July.
The Committee was guided through the report which had expanded to combine a number of previously separate reports into one document, meeting the Council’s requirements under a number of pieces of legislation including the new Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021. The report provided a retrospective evaluation of the Council’s success in delivering against its plans during 2020 to 2021 and looked ahead to what could be delivered in 2021 to 2022. It included a narrative on progress in delivering corporate priorities, including the current status and programme success. The Project Register and Corporate Risk Register had also been included within the document.
The Strategic Planning Team Manager provided a brief update against priorities –
· Housing – progress was good although numbers on the SARTH waiting list had increased with work ongoing to understand the reasoning behind the increase and explore potential solutions to managing the waiting list. The Council was largely on track to deliver the 1000 extra homes committed by March 2022 although there may be some slippage regarding council housing due to Covid
· Connected Communities – this area was currently a priority for improvement largely due to road conditions and broadband infrastructure. However projects were in place to address broadband infrastructure which were progressing well. The events infrastructure project would be delivered in the next financial year
· Resilient Communities – a number of key projects had been completed and overall good progress was being made against this priority
· Environment – there had been a significant development in terms of adoption of a Climate and Ecological Change Strategy and good progress was being made. Delivery against the timetable in terms of the energy efficiency of council homes remained challenging due to Covid restrictions although the work was still in the pipeline and there was a plan in place for its delivery
· Young People – the impact of Covid had been significant and was still ongoing and therefore it was difficult to draw conclusions about the impact on children’s education and their potential attainment in the future. The level of youth unemployment had also grown exponentially due to Covid and an area of concern however there were numerous interventions in place to address it.
The Lead Member explained the performance measuring definitions where there was comparable data with other local authorities. Assurances were provided that whilst there were areas of priority for improvement it did not necessarily mean that performance levels were poor but that Denbighshire’s performance was below the median level in relation to the other local authorities in Wales.
The Strategic Planning and Performance Team Leader provided an overview of the new corporate health section of the report in order to satisfy the need to self-assess under the Local Government and Elections (Wales) Act 2021. It focused on seven key governance areas and provided a wider picture about the context in which the Council was operating when delivering its performance objectives. It also sought to draw out any key actions to improve performance going forward.
During the ensuing debate members took the opportunity to raise questions and discussed various aspects of the report with the Lead Member and officers present. Main discussion points focused on the following ... view the full minutes text for item 8.
To consider a report by the Scrutiny Coordinator (copy enclosed) seeking a review of the committee’s forward work programme and updating members on relevant issues.
12.15 pm – 12.30 pm
The Scrutiny Coordinator submitted a report (previously circulated) seeking members’ review of the Committee’s work programme and providing an update on relevant issues.
Discussion focused on the following –
· the request to reschedule the Draft Sustainable Travel Plan from July to November was agreed and that the July meeting proceed with the Director of Social Services Annual Report 2019/20 & 2020/21 as the main business item
· members were asked to submit any proposal forms regarding topics for scrutiny (including those identified earlier in the meeting during consideration of the Annual Performance Report) by the end of next week for submission to the next scheduled meeting of the Scrutiny Chair and Vice Chairs Group on 1 July
· reaffirmed progress reports be submitted to the Committee in March 2022 as agreed earlier in the meeting in relation to the Curriculum for Wales and Additional Learning Needs Transformation
· referred to the Committee’s information brief which included a report overview of compliments, suggestions and complaints received under the Council’s customer feedback policy ‘Your Voice’ during Quarter 4 2020/21 – it was requested that examples of complaints as well as compliments be provided in future information reports to the Committee
· the Scrutiny Chairs and Vice-Chairs Group had considered the merits and practicalities of pre-meeting briefings. It had been decided that the Chair and Vice-Chair of each Committee should determine, on a meeting by meeting basis, whether a pre-meeting for Committee members was merited. If individual Committee members felt it would be beneficial to hold a pre-briefing for a particular meeting they should approach the Chair or Vice-Chair with a request.
RESOLVED that, subject to the amendments agreed above, the Committee’s forward work programme as detailed in Appendix 1 to the report be approved.
FEEDBACK FROM COMMITTEE REPRESENTATIVES
To receive any updates from Committee representatives on various Council Boards and Groups.
The Chair advised members that he had recently represented the Committee at the following groups/forums –
· the Service Challenge meeting for Legal, HR and Democratic Services. This had been an extremely positive meeting which had highlighted how all the departments within this support service had adapted during the Covid-19 crisis to deliver their services in new innovative ways whilst also supporting the frontline services to deliver theirs
· Strategic Investment Group (SIG) at which a number of capital investment projects had been discussed
· a meeting with Estyn, which the Chair of Communities Scrutiny Committee also attended. The Regulator was examining the effectiveness of the County’s Education Service and the Council’s scrutiny processes.
Councillor Ellie Chard confirmed that she would be representing the Committee at the Service Challenge for Education and Children’s Services on 19 July.
RESOLVED that the verbal report be received and noted.
The meeting concluded at 12.50 pm.