Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall, Ruthin and by video conference


Webcast: View the webcast

No. Item



Additional documents:


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Julie Matthews, Lead Member for Corporate Strategy, Policy and Equalities who had been invited to attend for business item 6.  However, Councillor Gwyneth Ellis:  Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets was in attendance to present that report.




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

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The following members declared a personal interest in business 5, ‘Supporting and Monitoring the Delivery of Elective Home Education’, in their role as school governors:


Councillor Ellie Chard                     Local Education Authority (LEA) Governor at Ysgol Tir Morfa

Councillor Bobby Feeley                 LEA Governor at Rhos Street School

Councillor Martyn Hogg                  Parent Governor at St. Asaph VP School

Councillor Carol Holliday                Town Council/Community governor on the governing bodies of  Ysgol Penmorfa & Ysgol Clawdd Offa

Councillor Alan Hughes                  Governor at Ysgol Caer Drewyn

Councillor Paul Keddie                   Governor Ysgol Bryn Collen

Councillor Diane King                     Governor at Christchurch School

Neil Roberts                                      Governor at Ysgol y Parc

Councillor Gareth Sandilands       LEA Governor at Ysgol Clawdd Offa



Councillor Andrea Tomlin declared a personal interest in the same business item as a close acquaintance of an individual currently undergoing the elective home education process.




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.

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No items of an urgent nature had been raised with the Chair or the Scrutiny Co-ordinator prior to the commencement of the meeting.



To receive the minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting held on the 25 January 2024 (copy attached).

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The minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 25 January 2024 were submitted.


It was:


Resolved:  that the minutes of the Performance Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 25 January 2024 be approved as a true, accurate and correct record of the proceedings.



To consider and discuss a report on the Authority’s policies and procedures in relation to supporting and monitoring the delivery of Elective Home Education.


10.10am – 11am


~~~~ BREAK (11am – 11.15am) ~~~~

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The Lead Member for Education, Children and Young People, Councillor Gill German, introduced the Elective Home Education report (previously circulated).


The report was being presented to the Committee to reassure members that Denbighshire County Council (DCC) was meeting the statutory requirements for Elective Home Education (EHE) within the County. The report included an oversight of the procedures in place and the Council’s safeguarding responsibilities.


The Head of Education guided Members through the report (previously circulated).


Home education was a term used when parents chose to educate their children at home instead of sending them to school. Home education reflected the diversity of approaches and allowed for and individualised approach for children tailored to the specific needs and interests of each child. Many home educating parents felt that they were able to meet their children’s needs and learning styles more effectively than in the classroom.


Children who were home educated were not expected to follow the Curriculum for Wales or any other specified curriculum or meet criteria for the number of learning hours. The home education approach could range from a continuum from a formal, structured, schedule-based education through to autonomous or child-led education.


The responsibility of the parent was to provide a suitable, efficient, full-time education, in line with the child’s age, ability and aptitude.


The role of the Local Authority (LA) was to identify children and young people who were not receiving a suitable, efficient full-time education. It was not the authority’s role to provide the education however, support from the LA was available and provided when requested. The ways in which the authority fulfilled this role could take on many different forms. The most important was engaging in a positive, supportive manner with the families and building up a relationship to ensure that it could identify that learning was taking place, that it was suitable and sustainable.


Before learners were taken off the school register, the Welsh Government Statutory Guidance should be shared with families in order that they knew what was expected of them to educate at home. Once the families moved over to EHE the Denbighshire protocol, updated in February 2024, (previously circulated in Appendix 1) would be sent out to families to support them in getting started.


All EHE families were offered a home visit to discuss the provision taking place. This was an effective way to link with all families and was a good opportunity to meet the learners and hear their point of view. It also gave the learners the opportunity to explain what they had been learning in their own words. Families did not have to accept a home visit and some families preferred to send and educational report or a third-party endorsement report to the local education authority (LEA).


Currently Denbighshire had 158 learners registered as EHE. There had been a noticeable increase since August 2016 where the LA had 94 learners registered as EHE. The numbers of EHE learners could fluctuate during the school year.


Every year the LA was awarded a Welsh Government grant to support the learners of EHE families. In October 2023, out of 141 families registered at that time, 76 showed interest and were supported financially.


Unfortunately, as in line with other LAs, Denbighshire had a small number of families who either refused or were reluctant to engage. As a LA, Denbighshire actively try to engage with these families through a structured process of specific letters, that were distributed at specific times. In between these letters, phone calls, emails and unannounced visits would take place to try and engage and support the families. The EHE  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.



To consider a report on the progress achieved to date in addressing the two recommendations made by Audit Wales in its May 2023 report along with the Council’s future plans for sufficiently resourcing its wider corporate support services’ functions.

11.15pm – 12pm

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The Lead Member for Finance, Performance and Strategic Assets introduced the report (previously circulated).


The original Audit Wales report had examined the Council’s arrangements for its Corporate Services under four departments, Human Resources (HR), Corporate Customer Services, Digital Services and Internal Audit. The results of the review were positive with only two recommendations, the Council’s responses to the recommendations were attached to the report. The report looked at the vision and strategic direction of the corporate support functions to consider if they effectively and adequately supported the Council’s objectives. The review also considered if the Council’s corporate support functions were taking account of the sustainable development principle.


The Head of Corporate Support Services: People provided members with further detail regarding the report and its recommendations.


The report presented to the Committee related to the Audit Wales Report on ‘Are the Council’s Corporate Support Functions Effective?’ dated May 2023 and provided an update on the progress made against the recommendations contained within the report. The report was for the Committee to consider the progress made to date in addressing the two recommendations made by Audit Wales in its May 2023 report along with the Council’s future plans for sufficiently resourcing its wider Corporate Support Services’ functions.


The review found that the Council’s corporate support functions had a good understanding of the sustainable development principle, but the Internal Audit Service did not consistently consider the principle in all its audit work, some HR Policies were out of date and although the Council had appropriate monitoring arrangements in place, it was yet to consider the future strategic objectives and resourcing needs of the functions that were examined.


The Audit report made two recommendations and a copy of the Council’s original Management response (previously circulated) was considered by the Governance and Audit Committee on the 26 July 2023 and by Scrutiny Chairs and Vice- Chairs Group (SCVCG). Since the report had been published considerable progress had been made on the actions identified to address the recommendations.  Members were directed to a table of the recommendations from the report and the progress of the actions to date. Of the four actions, two actions had been completed, one partially completed, and one action was ongoing.


Relating to recommendation one (R1) - review of out-of-date policies, the Head of Corporate Support Services: People informed Members that 50% of the Council’s policies had now been reviewed and were up to date. Policies were updated when there were new developments within legislation. All policies were reviewed every three years in line with the Council’s Policy, going forward it was important that informal reviews within the three years were recorded on a regular basis.


Relating to recommendation two (R2) - consistency of Internal Audit considering the sustainable development principle, Internal Audit now included questions to ascertain how services were complying with the sustainable development principle and Carbon Emissions when developing the scope for each audit undertaken.


The Chair thanked officers for the report and questions were welcomed from members.


Members referred to paragraph 4.5 of the report relating to Human Resources (HR) having 51 different policies and questioned if there was a need for so many and if any could be consolidated. The Head of Corporate Support Services: People stated that the 51 policies in place covered the whole employee lifecycle, from recruitment to leaving or retirement, there was a policy for each aspect of an employee’s employment with the organisation. The policies in place provided protection for the Council and employees. 


Members discussed ways for reviews to have as little effect on resources as possible and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.



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.

12pm – 12.20pm

Additional documents:


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 18 April 2024. In response to requests from officers the Chair had permitted the deferral of two business items from the current meeting’s business agenda to future meetings. They were:

·       2018 Estyn Inspection Recommendations, deferred until the June 2024 meeting; and

·       the Economic and Business Development Strategy, deferred until the Committee’s meeting in July 2024. 

Both deferrals were permitted in order to give officers more time to undertake detailed work in relation to the topics prior to submitting them for Scrutiny.

Appendix 2 contained a copy of the Member’s Scrutiny Proposal forms and Members were encouraged to complete the form if they had any items which they thought would merit scrutiny.


Since the publication of the Committee papers a request had been received to defer the presentation of the Revised Draft Climate and Ecological Change Strategy 2021/22 – 2029/30 from April’s meeting to the June meeting, due to changes in personnel.  If the Committee was willing to permit this rescheduling it would need to move a business item from its June 2024 meeting to a later date. It was agreed that the Cefndy Performance Report 2023/2024 be re-arranged to the Committee’s July 2024 meeting to accommodate this request.


Appendix 3 showed the Cabinet Forward Work Programme for information.


Appendix 4 outlined the progress made with respect of the Committee’s recommendations from its previous meetings.


At the conclusion of the discussion the Committee:


Resolved:  subject to the inclusion of the information report on Elective Home Education for March 2025, and the rescheduling of the Revised Draft Climate and Ecological Change Strategy 2021/22–2029/30 from April to June’s meeting and the Cefndy Performance Report 2023/24 from June to July’s meeting, to confirm its forward work programme as set out in Appendix 1 to the report.



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

12.20pm – 12.30pm

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The Chair informed the Committee that he had been unable to attend the most recent meeting of the Queen’s Market Project Board but had been advised that the Queen’s Market building had now been handed over to the Council.  The Corporate Director:  Governance and Business confirmed that this was the case.  Members:


Resolved:  to note the information provided.



Meeting concluded at 12.25pm