Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Conference Room 1a, County Hall, Ruthin

No. Item




Apologies were received from Councillor David Williams and Co-opted Member Mike Hall





Members to declare any personal or prejudicial interests in any business identified to be considered at this meeting.


Declarations of a personal interest were submitted by Councillors:


·         Ellie Chard – Governor Ysgol Tir Morfa and Ysgol Mair


·         Martyn Holland – Governor Ysgol Bro Famau


·         Huw Jones – Governor of Ysgol Caer Drewyn and Ysgol Carrog


·         Arwel Roberts – Governor Ysgol Y Castell and Ysgol Dewi Sant


·         Peter Scott – Governor Ysgol Brynhyfryd and St Asaph VP School and


·         Graham Timms – Governor Ysgol Dinas Bran





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 were raised.


At this juncture the chair welcomed the Council’s new Chief Executive to her first meeting of the Committee.  He wished her well in her new role with the Council.  The Chief Executive responded stating that she was looking forward to the new role and thanked councillors and staff for the warm welcome to the Council.





To receive the minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 15 March 2018 (copy enclosed).


The minutes of the meeting of the Performance Scrutiny Committee held on 15 March 2018 were submitted.


RESOLVED that the minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 15 March 2018 be received and approved as a correct record.





To consider a report by the Principal Education Manager (copy enclosed) on the findings of the study undertaken on Year 10 pupils from choice subjects to attainment.


10:05 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.

Additional documents:


In welcoming the Lead Member for Education, Children and Young People, the Head of Education and Children’s Services and the Senior School Improvement Officer – Secondary to the meeting to present the first report, the Committee congratulated them on their hard work which had resulted in Estyn, following its recent inspection, judging the Service to be achieving good outcomes, delivering quality education services and to have excellent leadership and management.  The leadership qualities of the Head of Education and Children’s Services had been cited as “highly effective and exemplary”, members congratulated her and asked her to convey their congratulation to all staff within the Service.


The Lead Member for Education, Children and Young People introduced the report (previously circulated) which sought the Committee to consider the findings of the study undertaken on Year 10 pupils from choice of subjects to attainment.  During his introduction the Lead Member informed the Committee that the Council’s Corporate Plan for 2017-2022 included an ambition to see every child that was achieving the expected standard at the end of primary school, achieving as a minimum 5 GCSEs A* - C (including English or Welsh and Maths) by the end of secondary school.  Estyn had referred to this ambition in its recent report.


The Head of Service advised that the Council acknowledged that a deficit in attainment existed between Key Stage (KS) 2 and KS4, with performance dipping significantly in the region of 20% to 25% between both key stages.  Officers had devised a number of intervention measures to support pupils transferring from primary to secondary schools in a bid to make sure that they did not become excluded or disengaged with the education process and consequently under achieve, as this could impact on their life outcomes.  Listed in the report were the different types of support and intervention measures available to pupils.  A number of intervention measures could be triggered if a pupil was beginning to disengage with the education system i.e. by the use of the TRAC system.  This system would identify the most appropriate type of support for a pupil on an individual basis, including the most effective educational environment required to support their learning to ensure the pupil thrived and achieved their potential.  However, it was important to realise that not all pupils would achieve the Level 2 inclusive threshold at KS4, nevertheless the aim was to ensure that they would achieve to the best of their ability. 


Denbighshire tracked each individual pupil from the day they entered the County’s education system until the day they left.  Whilst the local authority knew its pupils and their needs very well, it probably needed to evidence its processes and the extent of its knowledge better.  Appendix 1 to the report contained an example of a tracking matrix used to monitor the progress of pupils identified as having special educational needs (SEN), or who qualified for free school meals (FSMs), had English as an additional language (EAL), or were regarded as transient pupils.  This matrix profiled each pupil who may require additional support.  The use of this matrix ensured that all factors were taken into account when determining the type of additional support they required.  When determining the type and level of any additional support required officers would also have regard to a pupil’s attendance record, behaviour and any school exclusions imposed. 


Whilst accountability measures were due to change again during the 2018/19 academic year which would further complicate the process of identifying support needs, every effort was being made to develop a system that would identify all pupils requiring support to enable appropriate intervention  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.



To consider a report by the Principal Education Manager (copy enclosed) which seeks the Committee to review the county’s trends in school exclusions to determine if the use of short term exclusions has an adverse effect on pupils’ educational attainment.


10:45 a.m. – 11:15 a.m.

Additional documents:


Introducing the report and appendices (previously circulated)  which summarised the trends in permanent and fixed term exclusions the Lead Member for Education, Children and Young People advised that the report had been requested by a member who had concerns about the number of fixed term exclusions of five days or less within the county’s schools.  During his introduction the Lead Member advised that whilst Estyn, as part of its recent inspection of the Council’s Education Service, had examined this particular area it had not made any specific recommendations in relation to school exclusion rates or policy.  The Lead Member emphasised that the Council had an ambition and a policy to keep children in school and to support them through their education.  Permanent exclusion from school was the very last resort, when all other interventions had failed, short –term exclusions were therefore high in a bid to address problems escalating to a need to permanently exclude a pupil, as permanent exclusion was likely to result in the pupil becoming ‘not in education, employment or training’ (NEET), disengaged, under or not achieving and therefore impacting on his/her eventual life outcomes.


The Head of Education and Children’s Services advised that:

  • the rate of fixed-term exclusions was higher in secondary schools than in primary schools;
  • fixed-term exclusion rates were higher in primary schools located in areas of deprivation in comparison to other primary schools;
  • the County’s Education Service made sure that all exclusions, both fixed term and permanent, complied with the relevant legislation.  Consequently schools were not permitted to send pupils home to ‘cool off’ etc. as they had a statutory duty of care towards the child and to ensure his/her safety;
  • officers were confident that the figures reported were accurate; correct data was key to enable the Service to provide the appropriate intervention and support needed;
  • the challenge for the Service lay with the complex behaviours displayed by some pupils in certain schools, generally linked to adverse childhood experiences (ACE).  There was therefore a need to examine each individual child’s background in order to understand what triggered their behaviour; and
  • in a number of cases a short-term exclusion period of one to two days was sufficient reprimand without recourse to further expulsion


Responding to members’ questions the Lead Member, Head of Education and Children’s Services and Senior School Improvement Officer – Secondary:

  • advised that all pupils were tracked throughout their education journey in Denbighshire, be they in mainstream or special schools;
  • pupils identified with special educational needs (SEN), additional learning needs (ALN) etc. would be provided with appropriate support to meet their needs.  If their behaviour became more challenging the Education Department would work with the schools to support them, including through transition from primary to secondary education and further education if required.  Officers outlined the process followed in devising appropriate intervention to meet an individual pupil’s needs;
  • advised that one of the reasons behind the increase in the number of fixed-term exclusions of 5 days or less during 2015/16 was that one high school had a change of headteacher, with the new headteacher being less tolerant of bad behaviour;
  • confirmed that the County had not changed its School Behaviour Management Policy in recent years.  As a service the Education Service’s responsibility was to ensure that individual schools were following the correct procedures and implementing appropriate intervention measures to support the pupil concerned to achieve their potential whilst avoiding disruption to other pupils’ education;
  • acknowledged that whilst the number of fixed-term exclusions of 5 days or less in the county did seem consistently higher than other North Wales local authorities they were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.



To consider a report by the Strategic Planning Team Manager (copy enclosed) which presents the Committee with the March 2018 version of the Council’s Corporate Risk Register and seeks members’ comments on the revised version.


11:25 a.m. – 12:00 a.m.

Additional documents:


The Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Assets introduced the report and appendices (previously circulated) which presented to the Committee the formally updated version of the Council’s Risk Register for consideration.  As part of his introduction the Lead Member highlighted the main changes to the risk register as outlined in Appendix 1 to the report.  At the conclusion of his introduction he explained that the risk associated with local government re-organisation had been removed from the register recently.  However, following the recent announcement that local government reform was again being considered the risk may appear again when the Committee next considered the Risk Register report.  With respect of the new risk relating to the return on investment for Denbighshire from the Regional Growth Deal, he explained that this was a very new and unknown risk at present, hence the reason why its inherent and residual risk scores were identical at present.  It was anticipated that as the project progressed the residual risk score would reduce.  The residual risk score relating to the Council being able to deliver a balanced budget had increased.  The decision to increase the residual risk score was based on the fact that going forward the actions needed to secure the delivery of balanced budgets would require some extremely difficult and unpopular decisions to be taken, which would attract unfavourable media coverage and had the potential to damage the Council’s reputation.


Responding to members’ questions the Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Assets and the Strategic Planning Team Manager:


  • confirmed that for ease of reference in future they would provide the summary document of the main changes in a format which would group together risks which were in the same category i.e. new, removed, changed, no changes, with the covering report highlighting the pertinent changes;
  • confirmed that issues of risk which were probably of more interest to the public i.e. highway condition, cemeteries etc. would be included in the Service Risk Registers.  These registers fed into the more strategic Corporate Risk Register.  Risks identified in Services Plans would be managed as part of the process to deliver the Council’s Corporate Plan; and
  • confirmed that future versions of the register would include the names of relevant Lead Members and risk owners rather than noted ‘to be confirmed’ (TBC).


At the conclusion of the discussion the Committee:


Resolved: subject to the above observations being actioned to confirm the deletions, additions and amendments to the Corporate Risk Register





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.


12:00 p.m. – 12:15 p.m.

Additional documents:


The Scrutiny Co-ordinator (SC) presented the report (previously circulated) seeking Members’ review of the Committee’s work programme and providing an update on relevant issues.


Members enquired whether a representative from Kingdom would be in attendance when the Committee would be examining the company’s performance in delivering enforcement action on the Council’s behalf at its next meeting on 7th June.  The Scrutiny Co-ordinator undertook to ask officers to invite the most appropriate senior officer from the company to attend.


The SC informed members that the National Report on Waste Management, due to be presented to the Committee at its June meeting had been rescheduled to the autumn as the report was yet to be published.  The Committee:


RESOLVED that subject to the above observations and amendments, the Forward Work Programme be approved.





To receive any updates from Committee representatives on various Council Boards and Groups


12:15 p.m. – 12:30 p.m.



Councillor Arwel Roberts and Councillor Geraint Lloyd-Williams both praised a recent service challenge meeting which they had attended.  Members asked that the latest list of scrutiny committee representatives on Service Challenge Groups be circulated to them.


Meeting concluded 12:42pm