Agenda and draft minutes
Venue: by video conference
Webcast: View the webcast
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Bob Murray and from the Chief Executive, Judith Greenhalgh who had been called to emergency meeting relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the Interim Head of Education, Geraint Davies. Alan Smith, Head of Business Improvement and Modernisation was deputing for the Chief Executive at the meeting.
DECLARATION OF INTERESTS PDF 116 KB
Members to declare any personal or prejudicial interests in any business identified to be considered at this meeting.
The following elected and co-opted members declared personal interests as school governors at the schools named in relating to business items 5 and 6:
Councillor Ellie Chard – Ysgol Tir Morfa
Councillor Huw Hilditch –Roberts - Ysgol Pen Barras and his children attended Welsh-medium education
Councillor Hugh Irving _ Prestatyn High School
Councillor Meirick Lloyd-Davies - Ysgol Cefn Meiriadog
Councillor Paul Penlington - Ysgol y Llys and his children attended Welsh-medium education
Councillor Arwel Roberts - Ysgol y Castell
Neil Roberts - Ysgol y Parc
Councillor Peter Scott - St. Asaph V P School
Councillor Emrys Wynne - Ysgol Borthyn & Ysgol Brynhyfryd
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 items had been raised with the Chair ahead of the meeting.
MINUTES OF THE LAST MEETING PDF 371 KB
To receive the minutes of the
<![if !supportLists]>(i) <![endif]>Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 26 November 2020
<![if !supportLists]>(ii) <![endif]>Special Performance Scrutiny Committee held on the 22 December 2020 (copies attached)
10:00am – 10:05am
The following minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee meetings were submitted:
<![if !supportLists]>(i) <![endif]>Meeting held on 26 November 2020
<![if !supportLists]>(ii) <![endif]>Special Meeting held on 22 December 2020
Resolved: - to receive both sets of minutes and approve them as a true and correct record of the meetings held on 26 November and 22 December 2020 respectively.
Councillor Emrys Wynne (Chair of the Use of Plastics Task and Finish Group) advised that the Scrutiny Chairs and Vice-Chairs Group (SCVCG) hoped to devise a workable solution for monitoring the delivery of the recommendations in relation to the reduction of the use of plastic and the wider Climate and Ecological Change Strategy in the county in due course.
WORK PROGRAMME AND SUPPORT TO SCHOOLS DURING THE COVID PANDEMIC PDF 252 KB
To consider a report on how the regional consortium, in partnership with the Local Authority, has evolved and adapted to support schools during the COVID pandemic and how schools adapted to the new ways of working in response to COVID-19 restrictions and the impact on future education delivery practices (copy attached)
10:05am – 11:00am
The Lead Member for Education, Children and Young People alongside the Corporate Director: Communities introduced the Work Programme and Support to Schools during the Covid Pandemic report (previously circulated). The report summarised how education and schools had tried to deliver the best education in difficult times. Outlined within the report and appendices were the educational offer provided to all pupils in the county, an assessment of the main outcomes and impact of that work to date along with any other outcomes and impacts identified. It also outlined details of further work required to strengthen all aspects of education delivery in future. The time had been very challenging. Two officers from GWE were also in attendance to answer queries.
The regional service, GwE, in its entirety had refocused several times during this period to meet the needs of the range of stakeholders. The ability to be flexible and agile to work effectively together in different teams, often cross sector, had significant impact on organisational behaviour and external perception
Regular contact with school leaders had been well received and had contributed to Head teachers feeling that they could turn to a professional colleague to share challenging issues and to find solutions to address day-to-day issues.
Support for senior leaders’ well-being had been provided through a series of workshops and webinars which supported their resilience during this difficult period. These were held weekly and were extremely beneficial. GwE staff were also conducting face to face pastoral visits to schools during the autumn term on behalf of the Local Authorities.
The six local authorities and GwE had taken a collective regional approach to supporting schools throughout the COVID pandemic. This was clearly demonstrated in the consistent regional approach in developing a supportive framework to ensure that all regional schools had the right policies in place together with a comprehensive risk assessment in order to create a safe environment to welcome the children back into schools.
Schools causing concern prior to lockdown had received support throughout the period. Teachers had been guiding pupils and parents through blended learning. The schools were delivering on education and parents received reports on their child’s development. Many schools acknowledged that parental engagement had been a key factor in securing effective distance/blended learning. GwE and the Local Authorities had and continued to provide a range of guidance to support schools to improve parental engagement, including the sharing of good practice.
The Committee was assured that any pupils who required any IT equipment for school their school work were assisted to gain access to it. The Lead Member informed the Committee that to the Service’s knowledge no pupils were without the required IT equipment.
The Lead Member placed on record his personal thanks to all Education, Children’s Service, Health and Safety, school support, catering and maintenance staff for all their hard work which had enabled schools to reopen and also to provide blended learning.
During the ensuing discussion the Committee –
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The Committee thanked all staff for all their hard work during this difficult time.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>raised concerns about the IT issues some children may experience whilst conducting hybrid learning, i.e. there may be bandwidth issues arising from a number of family members attempting to use the internet at the same time, due to home-schooling and home working. Some households may be in area where internet access was patchy or extremely poor. Also some larger families may have to share hardware which could affect learning. The lead officer clarified that if there were any issues with hybrid learning, parents were advised to raise the matter with the school, who would in ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
LEARNER TRANSPORT: PROVISION FOR WELSH MEDIUM EDUCATION AND THE DEFINITION OF CATEGORY 1 SCHOOLS IN THE COUNTY PDF 312 KB
To consider a joint report by the Head of Education and the Education Planning and Recourses Manager (copy attached) which seeks the Committee to discuss the Council’s Learner Transport policy and its application in relation to Welsh medium education.
11:10am – 12:00pm
The Lead Member for Education, Children and Young People, Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts presented the report (previously circulated). The report provided an overview of school transport requirements as they applied to Welsh language schools under the Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008, which had been incorporated into Denbighshire County Council’s own Learner Transport Policy in 2018. It also provided an overview of the Welsh Language Categorisation of schools and how School Transport provision linked into education-medium provision. The report was being presented to the Committee in response to a request by members.
The Committee was informed that there was one recent and one ongoing consultations by Welsh Government (WG) that could potentially lead to changes to both the Learner Transport Policy and School Categorisation criteria in due course. Consequently, the Lead Member felt that the report was brought to the Committee prematurely. The results of the consultations and the proposed changes stemming from them would need to be assessed once the consultations were completed, as they could have substantial impact on how schools delivered education especially with regard to the Welsh Language. The consultation’s findings were expected to be published by the WG during the spring of 2021.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The Chair was aware that pupils who attended Ysgol Bro Cinmerch would have to pay for transport to attend at Ysgol Glan Clwyd (dependent upon the location of their home address) or attend Ysgol Brynhyfryd, as the latter was defined as their nearest suitable school for the provision of Welsh-medium education, as 80% of its curriculum offer was available via the medium of Welsh. The Lead Member agreed to discuss the matter with the affected parents and pupils. Previously, pupils may have been able to apply for concessionary travel on school transport to attend the school of their choice, however recent changes to the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) had meant that this was no longer an option for pupils and parents
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The Committee wanted to ensure that parents and children were supported while accessing secondary education through the language medium of their choice.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The definition of Welsh-medium education which was available across Denbighshire was raised, as there was concern amongst parents who wanted their children to be educated through the medium of Welsh. Ysgol Glan Clwyd was a Category A school which was able to offer 100% of its curriculum through the medium of Welsh, whereas Ysgol Brynhyfryd was a Category B Welsh-medium school, that guaranteed to offer at least 80% of its curriculum through the medium of Welsh. This provision complied with WG definitions of both categorisations. Members were concerned that by the time pupils reached years 11, 12 and 13 there may not be sufficient resources available in Category B schools for Welsh-medium provision to be offered.
Resolved: - subject to the above observations to confirm that no change was currently required to the Authority’s Policy due to:
<![if !supportLists]>1. <![endif]>
<![if !supportLists]> i). <![endif]>the Learner Transport Policy 2018 fully ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
SCRUTINY WORK PROGRAMME PDF 153 KB
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.
12:00pm – 12:20pm
The Scrutiny Co-ordinator introduced the report (previously circulated) seeking Members’ review of the Committee’s work programme and providing an update on relevant issues. Members were reminded that the proposal form for scrutiny topics (appendix 2) should be completed for the Scrutiny Chairs and Vice-Chairs Group to review and allocate items of business.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Members were informed that a request had been received for the report on the Cefndy Healthcare during 2019/20 to be deferred until June 2021 to enable it to cover two full financial years. The presentation of the 2019/20 had initially been deferred due to the pandemic, therefore as the company was now in the final quarter of the 2020/21 financial year it would be prudent for two full years to be reported upon.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>As a result of the on-going pandemic response work officers had requested that the report on Hafan Deg be deferred until July 2021. The Committee agreed to this deferral.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The Scrutiny Co-Ordinator confirmed that the Commercial Waste Service Evaluation would be presented to the Committee on the 18th March
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Members were informed that the Library Service Standards 2019-20 would also be available for presentation in March; and
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>the Scrutiny Chairs and Vice-Chairs Group had met the previous week. No items had been referred by them to the Committee for examination.
Resolved: subject to the above amendments to approve the Committee’s forward work programme.
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 attended a meeting of the Council’s Strategic Investment Group (SIG) during which a number of projects, which were currently subject to confidentiality restrictions, had been discussed.
Meeting concluded at 12.40pm