Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Ruthin and by video conference
Webcast: View the webcast
Apologies for absence were received from the Chair, Councillor Hugh Irving, and Councillors Alan Hughes and Diane King.
In the Chair’s absence the Vice-Chair chaired the proceedings.
Members were informed that Councillor Chris Evans had resigned his seat on the Committee and that the Independent Group had appointed Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts to take up the vacant position.
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 business items 5, 6 and 7:
Councillor Ellie Chard – Local Education Authority Governor at Ysgol Tir Morfa
Councillor Huw Hilditch-Roberts – Local Education Authority Governor at Ysgol Pen Barras
Councillor Martyn Hogg- Parent Governor as St. Asaph VP School
Councillor Carol Holliday – Governor at Ysgol Penmorfa
Neil Roberts – Governor at Ysgol y Parc
Gareth Sandilands – Local Education Authority Governor at Ysgol Clawdd Offa
Councillor Andrea Tomlin as a grandparent of a pupil at Christ the Word School
Councillor Andrea Tomlin also declared a personal interest in business item number 8 as the owner of a business who had dealings with the private rented sector in Denbighshire.
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 items of an urgent nature had been raised with the Chair or the Scrutiny Coordinator prior to the commencement of the meeting.
The minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 20 July 2023 were submitted. It was:
that the minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 20
July 2023 be approved as a true, accurate and correct record of the
No matters were raised in relation to the contents of the
To consider and discuss a report from the Head of Education Services on
the support provided to the school and progress made since the core Estyn
inspection in May 2022 (copy enclosed).
10.10am – 10.45 am
Chair reminded members of the reason for presenting the report stating the
report outlined the progress achieved
to date by Christ the Word Catholic School since the last report presented in
January 2023 in relation to improving standards.
The Lead Member for Education Councillor Gill German
introduced the update report (previously circulated) to Members. The
information was in addition to the previous information presented to the
Committee. She informed members numerous multi- agency meetings had taken place
at which she had been present. Members also heard two monitoring visits from Estyn had taken place.
The Head of Education expanded on the Lead Member’s
introduction stressing to the Committee that realising improvements at Christ
the Word Catholic School was a priority for the school and the Education
Service as a whole. He offered his thanks to all parties for their part in
supporting the school. Work undertaken
by officers, teaching staff and external partners was all aimed at addressing
the recommendations set by Estyn.
There had been extensive work completed at the school since
the initial inspection and first update report presented to the Committee in
January 2023. A high degree of scrutiny of the work had taken place, Estyn as the regulators regularly scrutinised the
developments along with the multi-agency school approach with the Governing
Body, the Diocese and GwE reviewing the progress made against the 5 recommendations. Further work was required against the 5
original recommendations. To date the improvements were in line with officers expectations.
The Chair thanked all organisations in attendance for their
support to secure improvements at the school along with their commitment to
progressing the improvements further and sustaining them for the future. Following the introduction Members were
invited to raise any concerns or questions and the following points were
discussed in more detail:
Work to ensure support available was the right
support at the right time. All stakeholders that supported the school were in
agreement that the support accessed and provided needed to be timely, focused
on the right areas and conducted in the right priority order. Discussions and
support would be ongoing with the school as with all schools in Denbighshire.
As in any school the biggest and most important
resource was the staff. Having all staff working together was essential for
success as was securing their support for any changes and improvements.
The working party of staff started as a
behaviour committee. School staff across the board and from all levels were
included in the group. It was to discuss and review the behaviour of pupils in
the school and what measurers required to be implemented to support
improvement. The group naturally progressed from not only behavioural aspects
but to lessons and how the tone could be set correctly in each lesson.
Expectations were established for both staff and pupils for each lesson. The
expectation for staff had been to follow a pattern to establish consistency
through the whole school. Members were provided with some of the expectations
of staff, such as treating all pupils with respect, meeting students at the
door and providing clear instructions on all learning activities. Those
expectations set the tone for each lesson and informed teaching staff of the
procedure for each lesson and the expected outcome. To monitor those
expectations, monitoring processes were established within the school. GwE
attended the school and looked at this area when they conducted observations of
lessons. Feedback was provided on how the interventions had been implemented.
Every monitoring cycle the school had scheduled would look at the expectations
and considered whether they were working effectively.
· Members congratulated all ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To consider and discuss a report from the Head of Education Services
which provides an overview of how schools are implementing Welsh Government’s
statutory framework on ‘embedding a whole-school approach’ to emotional and
mental well-being (copy enclosed).
10.45 am – 11.15am
The Lead Member for Education, Children and Families
introduced the report (previously circulated) on whole school approach to
emotional and mental well-being. She stressed the importance of nurturing the
well-being of pupils in Denbighshire. The approach had changed to include
partners that work with children, and as a result a number of interventions and
programmes had taken place in schools. The financial landscape did cause
concern and worry, many of the interventions in schools were seen as additional
facilities and may be affected by future funding decisions.
The Head of Education stressed the importance of well-being,
it was present in everything schools and education conducted on a daily basis.
Members heard that a Whole School Approach Group met half termly with partners
to develop specific training schools felt would be beneficial to staff and the
school pupils. The importance of supporting the well-being of children was
stressed following the pandemic it was critical the authority enabled and
supported schools to pass that support on to pupils and to wider families.
The multi-agency inspection that took place in February 2023
highlighted a lot of positive work that Denbighshire and partners currently did
in supporting schools.
The Head of Education introduced Rona Jones, Head Teacher of
Ysgol Emmanuel, who provided the Committee with a
school perspective of work being done to enhance support for pupils in schools.
The Chair thanked all the officers and guests for attending
He opened the discussion and invited members to raise any
concerns or questions they had. The following points were discussed in greater
Partnership working was essential. Not all
issues of well-being in society could be resolved in schools in isolation.
Working together with Public Health Wales (PHW), Children and Adolescent Mental
Health Services (CAMHS) and Healthy Schools Scheme along with other partners
was vital. The intention of the whole school approach was to encourage everyone
to work together, on the same agenda to support all. The Whole School Approach
Working Group involved all partners to make best use of the available resources
and avoid duplication and silo working.
There was a counselling service currently for
4-18 year olds which delivered a service using a variety of different methods.
They offered a face to face service or remotely if required. The majority of
the young people they worked with were 11-18 years old as the provision of a
counselling service for 11 – 18 year olds was a statutory requirement. About
12% of pupils were from primary school age, the counsellor offering the service
to the young children were trained in therapeutic play. The service would like
to expand more at the primary level but would rely on the availability of
funding through the grants the Service received.
· Members heard Ysgol Emmanuel had been the first school in Denbighshire to be awarded the Trauma Informed School accrediation. Rona Jones provided members with detail of the work that had been undertaken at the school to support children. A number of children at the school had needed the provision. The trauma informed approach was about protecting and regulating ensuring the children felt safe, putting interventions in place to support the emotions children express. Funding had allowed the school to employ additional teaching assistants trained in therapeutic services and a play therapist two days a week. Funding was a concern for the service to be able to continue as it was, let alone expand. As a result of the service the school had observed lower exclusion rates. Each member of the school staff had been on board from the start and had been instrumental in ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
To consider and discuss a report from the Head of Education Services on
the progress of the planning
and implementation work undertaken to date with respect of securing the
delivery of Welsh Medium Curricula and Non-Curricula provision in the County’s
Schools in accordance with the Welsh Government’s vision (copy enclosed).
11.30 am – 12.00 pm
The Lead Member for Education, Children and Families
introduced the report (previously circulated) on the delivery of the Welsh
Medium Provision in schools in Denbighshire.
Head of Education guided Members through the report. The reason for the report
followed a request made in 2022 after a report on the changes to the
categorisation of schools. As a result of that report, a workshop had taken
place recently on supporting scrutiny to support the Welsh language.
authority had a 10-year plan to increase the provision of the Welsh language in
education. It was stressed the plan was ambitious, challenging and was live-
members served on the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan Steering Group whose
role it was to monitor the development of the plan and challenge when required.
The added challenge noted had been the
reduction in the percentage of learners who received education in year 2 in
2022-23 through the medium of Welsh. This had reduced from the baseline in the
plan of 28% in September 2020 to 26.4%. Details of the support provided had
been included in the report, including a request to produce a business case to
increase the Welsh provision in schools.
A great deal of work was taking place across numerous services in the
authority and with external partners in relation to this matter.
The Chair thanked
the Lead Members and officers for the introduction and opened the debate for
members to ask questions. As part of the ensuing discussion, further detail was
provided on the following:
raised concerns on the target of 40% of all seven-year-old pupils would attend
Welsh Medium Education. Officers stressed the target had been set by Welsh
Government based on the current position of each Local Authority. The target
had originally been set in 2020, after which officers noted a reduction in the
baseline. One of the reasons for the reduction had been following the Covid 19 pandemic, due to the closure of Welsh medium
schools along with Welsh-medium nurseries. The 40% target would be a challenge
for officers and schools to achieve. Conversations with Welsh Government with
regards to the target continued. Education was one of the main partners in
promoting the Welsh Language. It was emphasised that all schools in
Denbighshire would have to contribute and work towards the target.
action plan itself had been included in the Welsh Education Strategic Plan that
had previously been agreed by County Council.
and Mudiad Meithrin
nurseries played an important role in setting the first steps to filter through
children to Welsh medium primary schools.
heard that a Cylch Meithrin
had recently been opened in the Oak Tree Centre in Rhyl. In addition, work was underway with a view to
establishing an ‘immersion provision’ at Ysgol Brynhyfryd, Ruthin.
stressed the format of the report that had been attached as an appendix to the
paper was the layout of the repot that was sent to Welsh Government. The
language used in the report reflected the language used by Welsh Government.
confirmed the authority did have one category 2 school, which would be required
to further develop its provision of the Welsh language. From September 2023 it
provided the nursery provision, solely through the medium of Welsh.
· Officers agreed with Members on parents’ concerns on sending children to a Welsh medium school if not spoken in the home. It was the stressed all information presented to parents was bilingual enabling Welsh and non-Welsh speakers to know and understand the school policies, curriculum and communication between staff and parents. Members heard ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
The Chair thanked Co-Opted Member Kathleen Jones, for her
time and commitment on the Committee since 2016. He explained to Members that
the current meeting was Kathleen’s last meeting with the authority. On behalf
of the whole Committee he wished her well for the future and thanked her for
her contributions to discussions.
At this juncture (12.20 p.m.) the meeting paused for a 10 minute comfort break.
The meeting reconvened at 12.30 p.m.
and discuss a report from the Senior Officer – Strategic Planning & Housing
on the progress made to date in delivering the revised Strategy and
Action Plan approved by County Council in December 2020 (copy enclosed).
12.00 pm – 12.30 pm
The Lead Member for Housing and Communities introduced the
report (previously circulated) to the Committee. He stressed to the Committee a
great deal of work had been undertaken within the service. He thanked officers
for attending the meeting to answer any questions.
The Strategic Planning and Housing Manager guided members
through the report. She reminded members the Housing and Homelessness Strategy
set out the aims for housing across the County for the period 2021-2026. It
involved a number of areas within the Council.
An action plan sat alongside the Strategy with the delivery of the
action plan overseen by the Corporate Plan Housing Board. The group met
quarterly, with actions reviewed prior to each meeting with an update to the
action plan discussed at every meeting. The group had a key role in monitoring
the development of the actions and any issues that arose. A copy of the action
plan had been included in the agenda papers for members’ information.
The report illustrated the kay areas of progress, in her
opinion good progress had been made in delivering key elements of the strategy.
The Chair thanked the Lead Member and Officers for the
introduction and invited members to raise any questions. The following points
were discussed in more detail:
In response to a question submitted by
Councillor Chris Evans and read out by the Chair it was advised that housing
management and tenancy management was not an action point highlighted in the
Strategy’s Action Plan. Officers were happy to attend a further Scrutiny
meeting to address members’ concerns on the management of tenancies. Officers
had to prioritise work load and resources and the more serious issues often
took priority over some issues. The team were productive and did conduct
tenancy visits to all households on an annual basis. Officers would also take
part in estate walkabouts with members if they requested. The Lead Member
encouraged members to contact himself or officers with any concerns.
The private sector was an important part of the
overall housing market, officers echoed the concerns of Members with regards to
the changes to legislation. The reduction in private landlords was concerning,
information had been included in the report which linked the reduction to
homelessness figures. Work on monitoring the data would continue going forward.
There were a number of reasons that had also impacted on the number of private
rented accommodation available.
Officers confirmed they had noticed an impact on
the homelessness sector due to the changes made to legislation governing
private rented accommodation. It was stressed officers were managing to support
individuals out of homelessness into rented accommodation. Since the Covid-19
pandemic the private sector had been challenging for officers due to rent
increases. Members were reminded of the private rented leasing scheme, where
possible officers made landlords aware of that scheme.
A well-attended private landlord forum had taken
place and allowed officers and landlords to have discussions on concerns and
raise any questions. The Lead Member stated it was very beneficial for all in
Officers reassured the Committee that under
occupation was one of the priorities for officers. Progress had been slow in
terms of the numbers. Officers continued to discuss with tenants about options
the authority could offer. The delay in the new build properties had impacted
on individuals or families moving to more suitable sized properties. Often another
challenge faced was people not wanting to move out of their family home
although it was now too large for them.
· Members heard that unfortunately the contractor for construction of the Dell project in Prestatyn had gone into administration earlier in the ... 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.
12.30 pm – 12.45 pm
The Scrutiny Co-ordinator introduced the
report and appendices, (previously circulated) the purpose of which was to seek
the Committee to review its programme of future work.
The next meeting of
the Performance Scrutiny Committee was scheduled for the 30 November 2023,
proposed for that meeting were three agenda items.
1. Corporate Risk Register: September 2023 review
2. Council Performance
Self- Assessment Update
3. Economic and Business Development.
Members had agreed to include an update report on
Christ the Word School on the forward work programme for July 2024 and a follow
on report on Denbighshire’s Housing and Homelessness Strategy Action plan for
autumn 2024 earlier in the meeting.
The Scrutiny Chairs
and Vice Chairs Group meeting was scheduled for 3 October and Members were
reminded to complete the relevant form if they had any topics they wished to be
Appendix 3 was the Cabinet’s forward work programme
for members’ reference.
Appendix 4 provided the Committee with further
information regarding the
the previous meeting.
Reference was made
to an information brief that had been issued to Members prior to the meeting.
The Scrutiny Co-Ordinator explained the report on the Council’s Quarter 1
Corporate Plan Performance had been included for information. At the next
Committee meeting in November, officers would present quarter 2 report to
discuss any issues of concern.
reminded that three training sessions had been scheduled, all Members were
welcome to attend.
Those sessions were
due to be held on:
October 2023 – Diversity
- Gypsy, Roma and Traveller
October – Scrutiny Chairing Skills
November – Scrutiny Questioning Skills
subject to the inclusion of the progress reports agreed during the
course of the discussions at the current meeting, to confirm the Committee’s
Forward Work Programme as set out in Appendix 1 to the report.
FEEDBACK FROM COMMITTEE REPRESENTATIVES
To receive any
updates from Committee representatives on various Council Boards and Groups.
12.45 pm – 13.00 pm
Councillor Sandilands briefed Committee members on the proceedings of a recent meeting of the Capital Scrutiny Group at which the following topics amongst others were discussed:
· Levelling Up Funding Projects
· Natural Flood Management
· Places for Nature
· Additional Learning Needs (ALN) Grant
· Community Focussed Schools
· Kentigern Hall, St. Asaph
· North East Wales Joint Archive Project
Councillor Ellie Chard provided an overview of the discussions that had taken place at the Education and Children’s Services Service Challenge meeting. Pre-birth liaison work and the progress achieved in addressing ‘not in education, employment or training’ (NEET) related issues were examined in detail.
Meeting concluded at 1.20pm