Venue: Conference Room 1a, County Hall, Ruthin
Apologies were received from Councillor Bob Murray and Co-opted member Gareth Williams.
Tribute to Alastair McNab
The Chair paid tribute to Lead Officer: Operations and Business Support, Alastair McNab, who had died suddenly the previous week. The Chair and Councillor Martyn Holland gave their apologies for having to leave the meeting early to pay their respects at the funeral.
Members to declare any personal or prejudicial interests in any business identified to be considered at this meeting.
Personal Interests were declared as members of a School Governing Body by Councillors E Chard, H Hilditch-Roberts, M Holland, H Jones, G Lloyd-Williams and P Scott for items 5 and 6.
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.
There were no urgent items.
To receive the minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 13 July 2017 (copy attached)
9.35am – 9.40am
The minutes of the meeting of the Performance Scrutiny Committee held on 13 July 2017 were submitted.
Item 6 Corporate Risk Register – The response from North Wales Emergency Planning Service had been circulated to members as part of the Information Brief document ahead of the meeting.
Item 7 Corporate Plan (Q4) –
a) The new Service Manager for Intake and Intervention was Jamie Pope.
b) The suspension of the Right to Buy Scheme had been granted.
RESOLVED that subject to the above that the minutes of the meeting held on 13 July 2017 be received and approved as a correct record.
To consider a joint report by the Principal Education Manager and GwE’s Secondary and Primary Leads (copy attached) which details Denbighshire’s final teacher assessments and provisional external examination results at Key Stage 4 and post 16, including benchmarked information and performance against other local authorities for teacher assessments. The report also seeks members’ observations on the County’s performance and to identify potential areas for improvements.
9.45am – 10.15am
The Lead Member for Education introduced the report and appendices (previously circulated) which provided information on the performance of Denbighshire’s pupils in relation to the final teacher assessments for the 2016-17 academic year, plus the provisional examination results at Key Stage (KS)4 and post 16 at the end of the summer term 2017.
During his introduction the Lead Member advised that the KS4 results were subject to a different assessment process to previous years and therefore could not be accurately compared to the county’s results in preceding years. Education officers and Education Lead Members across Wales had been notified in April 2017 to expect a dip in performance in the 2017 GCSE examination results because of the new assessment process.
The Lead Member also advised that officers had requested that a number of Denbighshire pupils’ papers be re-marked as they disputed the grades awarded for them. The outcomes of this process to date had been successful and would be reflected in the verified results when they were presented to Scrutiny in early 2018.
The Head of Education detailed the primary education sector’s teacher assessment results emphasising that:
· the Education Service aimed at the conclusion of the Foundation Phase to undertake robust assessments of pupils’ abilities. Denbighshire pupils’ attainment at the end of the Foundation Phase during 2017 had been 1.7% below target, and ranked 20th out of 22 in Wales – lower than the expected free school meal (FSM) position, but one place above the expected position in the North Wales region. However, through the use of data available to Children’s Services officers had been able to understand the challenges faced by individual pupils in the cohort. Work was also being undertaken in conjunction with Children’s Services in relation to these pupils based on Public Health Wales’s adverse child experiences work;
· KS2 assessments continued to record an improvement year on year. Achievement now stood at 88.9% with only 6 pupils who were not on the Additional Learning Needs (ALN) register not achieving the Core Subject Indicator (CSI). In addition 37 pupils who had English as an Additional Language (EAL) did not attain the CSI;
· officers from the County’s Education Department met with Estyn at the end of each term to discuss attainment and the Regulator had indicated that it did not have concerns about the performance of Denbighshire’s primary pupils as the County was aware of each individual pupil’s personal circumstances;
· the Education Department did have concerns about the overall performance at KS4, despite all authorities in Wales being advised not to compare the current year’s results with previous years’ performance;
· the performance of all authorities in Wales at KS4 had dipped in 2017 with the introduction of the new syllabus and grading system;
· Denbighshire’s performance profile at KS4 was very interesting as it had the best and third best performing school at KS4 in North Wales, but it also had the poorest performing school;
· neither Welsh or English Literature examination papers this year counted towards the Level 2+, it was only the language examinations and mathematics that were taken into account for the Level 2+; and
· within its county boundaries Denbighshire had the highest number of the most deprived council wards in North Wales, consequently officers were interrogating FSM data to ensure that it accurately reflected the county’s performance and to establish whether everyone who was entitled to FSMs were claiming them.
The Catholic Church’s co-opted member on scrutiny congratulated the Council on its approach of focussing educational and welfare provision on each individual pupil’s specific needs. She felt that this was the correct approach to take, particularly ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To consider a joint report by the Principal Education Manager and GwE’s Secondary Lead (copy attached) which provides information and seeks observations on the revised structure and working practices to support school improvement across North Wales, including Denbighshire’s schools.
10.15am – 10.45am
The Lead Member for Education introduced the report (previously circulated) which provided members with information on the new GwE challenge and support model for Denbighshire’s schools - including the revised structure for the organisation and details of its working practices to support school improvement across the North Wales region. Members were advised by the Head of Education and Children’s Services that GwE had recently undergone a significant period of change and that officers within Denbighshire were now more confident that the ‘new’ GwE structure would support school improvement across all education sectors in the county.
GwE’s new Managing Director advised that the national formula for school improvement services had given greater emphasis towards the provision of more support to the primary sector. From Denbighshire’s perspective this focus had adversely impacted on the secondary sector’s performance in the county. Committee members were informed by GwE’s Primary and Secondary Lead Officers for Denbighshire that they had been appointed to their respective roles to support schools with the development and delivery of their School Improvement Plans, part of that role included quality assuring those plans to ensure that they would secure improvement and deliver improved outcomes for all pupils. Both of GwE’s Lead Officers would meet with the Council’s lead education officers on a fortnightly basis to ensure that sustainable improvements were being realised in all schools across the county. GwE officers explained that the new model would entail Level 2 and Level 3 detailed Business Plans from September 2017. These Plans would focus on GwE’s six key priorities of:
· curriculum and assessment
· teaching; and
all of which were detailed in the report. The Level 2 Plans would focus on local authority standards, curriculum and assessment, leadership, well-being and teaching, whilst the higher Level 3 Plans would focus on more specialist areas of the curriculum, GwE’s business and governance etc., and comparing performance and outcomes across the region’s six local education authority areas.
In response to members’ questions GwE and Education Service officers advised that:
· the well-being of every pupil across all school sectors was an integral part of the service provided by both GwE and the local authority, as healthy, resilient and responsible pupils were more likely to realise their full potential;
· the merger of both Education and Children’s Services in Denbighshire under the same Head of Services was regarded as being advantageous and conducive to delivering the well-being agenda; and
· Estyn was due to re-inspect GwE in mid-October 2017
The Chief Executive of Denbighshire County Council informed the Committee that there would always be problems or matters of concern relating to pupils’ education. It was both GwE and the local education authority’s responsibility to identify and understand the ‘problems’ and put measures in place to address and solve them. He advised members that he had confidence in this new model and that it would achieve the desired outcomes. The Committee:
(i) subject to the above observations on the revised structure and working practices to support school improvement in Denbighshire’s schools, to endorse the model; and
(ii) to confirm that it had read, understood and taken account of the Well-being Impact Assessment as part of its consideration of the above.
To consider the following reports from the Statutory and Corporate Complaints Officer (copies attached) which seek members’ observations on Services’ performance in complying with the Council’s corporate complaints procedure ‘Your Voice’ and to identify any areas that may benefit from further scrutiny.
(i) ‘Your Voice’ report – Quarter 4 2016/17
(ii) ‘Your Voice’ report – Quarter 1 2017/18
11am – 11.30am
Introducing the ‘Your Voice’ Complaints report for Quarter 4 2016/17 and Quarter 1 2017/18 (previously circulated) the Lead Member for Developing Community Infrastructure advised the Committee that the information was provided to give members an opportunity to scrutinise the Council’s performance in dealing with complaints. The report also outlined how complaints had been used by Council services for the purpose of improving service delivery to residents. During his introduction the Lead Member drew members’ attention to the fact that the number of compliments received during both individual quarters had outnumbered the number of complaints received, which was pleasing. It was also evident from the data that there was no discernible pattern emerging in relation to the complaints received.
Appended to the ‘Your Voice’ report was a report which members had requested on the ‘Customer Dashboard’ – which provided an overview of the customer effort and satisfaction results for the Council for the period September 2016 to August 2017. Introducing this report the Head of Customers, Communication and Marketing outlined the process for evaluating customer feedback and how the feedback received was used to improve Council services. She advised that future ‘Customer Dashboard’ reports should include statistical and data analysis on a service by service basis.
Responding to members’ questions the Lead Member and officers:
· detailed the process for dealing with ‘complaints’, emphasising that ‘complaints’ were different to ‘service requests’;
· advised that ‘service requests’ could be dealt with and resolved earlier if pertinent and specific information was provided by the caller who contacted the Customer Services Centre;
· confirmed that the Council was constantly looking at methods for improving services and for improving accessibility to the complaints process for the public. The Council’s website contained all the relevant information on how to make a complaint;
· advised that telephone calls received for service requests or to register a complaint were not audio recorded. Nevertheless, a manual record would be made of each request or complaint received;
· confirmed that certain services, or agencies delivering services on the Council’s behalf, were more likely to generate complaints against them e.g. civil enforcement services. This was because of the nature of their work;
· advised that if members felt there was a need to raise awareness of the Council’s Corporate Complaints procedure a communications event could be arranged for this purpose; and
· confirmed that the Council welcomed complaints as it viewed them as an effective way to understand problems and consequently improve services.
The Head of Customers, Communication and Marketing undertook to investigate the apparent delay encountered with progressing ‘service requests’ if the exact postcode for the problem/incident was not known by the person reporting it. She also undertook to ensure that the telephone numbers for the emergency out of hours service were easily accessible on all Council publications, correspondence, website and social media pages.
At the conclusion of the discussion the Committee:
Resolved: - subject to the above observations to –
(i) receive the report on Council’s performance in dealing with complaints, compliments and suggestions received under the ‘Your Voice’ corporate complaints procedure during Quarter 4, 2016-17 and Quarter 1, 2017-18, and how they were used to improve services to residents; and
(ii) receive the data on the Customer Effort and Satisfaction results for Denbighshire County Council for the period from September 2016 to August 2017 and how that information had been utilised for the purpose of improving services to the Council’s customers and residents.
To consider a report by the Scrutiny Coordinator (copy attached) seeking a review of the committee’s forward work programme and updating members on relevant issues.
11.30am – 12pm
The Scrutiny Co-ordinator presented the report (previously circulated) seeking Members’ review of the Committee’s work programme and providing an update on relevant issues.
A copy of the “Member’s proposal form” had been included in Appendix 2. The Scrutiny Co-ordinator requested that any proposals be submitted to herself. The Cabinet Forward Work Programme had been included as Appendix 3, the table summarising recent Committee resolutions, advising on progress with their implementation, had been attached as Appendix 4.
The Committee considered its draft Forward Work Programme for future meetings, Appendix 1. The following additions - as requested by the Scrutiny Chairs and Vice-Chairs Group – to the Performance Scrutiny Committee agenda on 7 December 2017were agreed:-
a) the Welsh Audit Office’s national study on Waste Management in Wales and
b) a report on ‘Developing a Highway Maintenance Strategy’.
The Committee were asked to appoint members to the Service Challenge Groups that oversee specific areas of work or services’ performance. To that end the following nominations were presented:
· Councillor Ellie Chard - Legal, HR and Democratic Services
· Councillor Hug Irving – Business Improvement and Modernisation.
(i) that, subject to the above observations and amendments, the Forward Work Programme be approved; and
(ii) that the appointments to the Service Challenge Groups be agreed.
FEEDBACK FROM COMMITTEE REPRESENTATIVES
To receive any updates from Committee representatives on various Council Boards and Groups
12pm – 12.15pm
There was no feedback to be presented.
Meeting concluded at 12:00pm