Agenda and minutes
Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 16th November, 2017 2.00 pm
Venue: Meeting Room 1, Guildhall
Contact: Tracy Davies Scrutiny Facilitator
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Ian Roberts, Head of Education and Councillors R Alun Jenkins, Rondo Roberts and Phil Wynn, Lead Member.
To sign as a correct record the Minutes of the Meeting held on 19 October 2017
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 19 October 2017 were submitted.
Minute 20 – First bullet point relating to key stage 4 data – the following additional comment to be included:
· Although it was difficult to make comparisons with the previous year at the Level 2 inclusive, the Committee was disappointed that the authority was still ranked 19th out of 22 authorities.
AGREED – That subject to the aforementioned correction the Minutes of the Meeting held on 19 October 2017 be signed as a correct record.
To consider the report of the Head Finance
The Head of Finance submitted a report (HF/115/17s) to assist the Committee in considering and agreeing its work programme. In debate, the following matters were considered and agreed:
· Topic Selection Form at Appendix 1 – to be scheduled for the December meeting, to start at 2.30pm. Committee requested that any additional information regarding proposed savings and any information in respect of future additional savings be also submitted.
· That the Scrutiny Facilitator request GwE to attend for the January 2018 meeting which would start at 3.30pm to enable representatives from WASH and Wrexham Primary Heads Federation to attend.
· The Scrutiny Co-ordinating Group to be requested to ensure that Scrutiny formed part of the budget setting process for future years.
(i) That the proposed budget savings outlined in the Scrutiny Topic Selection Form at Appendix 1 be scheduled for the meeting on 21 December at 2.30pm, with the exception that the proposed budget savings in respect of school meals and breakfast clubs be considered by the Employment, Business and Investment Scrutiny Committee.
(ii) That the Committee request any information in relation to further budget savings proposals for next year.
(iii) That it be recommended that the Scrutiny Coordinating Group ensure that scrutiny is included as part of the budget setting process next year.
(iv) That the GwE Level 1 and GwE/WCBC Level 2 Business Plan be deferred to the January meeting, to commence at the later time of 3.30pm to enable attendance of representatives of WASH and Wrexham Primary Heads Federation.
(v) That, subject to the aforementioned, the work programme be agreed.
To consider the report of the Lead Member for People - Education
The Lead Member for People – Education submitted a report (HEd/30/17) to provide scrutiny with a monitoring report on the levels of fixed term and permanent exclusions in Wrexham and how this compared with All Wales comparative data. The report also provided data in respect of the education, training and employment (ETE) indicator for the Youth Justice Service.
The Service Manager - Prevention and Support drew Members’ attention to the key areas of the report including the exclusion intervention model at Appendix 1, performance against the indicators measured by Welsh Government (WG) for both exclusion and the Education, Training and Employment indicator and the new EOTAS framework to commence from January 2018. Members asked questions of the officers present and in debate the following matters were raised by the Committee:
· Noted that there had been a reduction in the level of fixed term exclusion in both the primary and secondary sector and the number of days lost to education, however there had been an increase in the level of permanent exclusions.
· The importance of the role of parents, working with schools and Education Social Workers in motivating and supporting pupils to reduce the risk of exclusion.
· Concern expressed in respect of the lack of consistency in the application of school behaviour policies which could lead to different outcomes for similar pupil behaviour. Members were reminded that whilst discussions would be undertaken with Education Support the threshold for exclusion remained with the Head teacher. It was noted that a model policy based on Welsh Government guidance was provided to schools by the local authority. Members requested that a review of Wrexham secondary school behaviour policies be undertaken in order to ensure a more robust and consistent approach across the County Borough.
· Referring to Table 4 of the report concern was expressed regarding the lack of consistency in the exclusion reason recorded. The officer reported that Head teachers were encouraged to provide further information if the category ‘other’ was selected. In addition, training had recently been provided to schools in respect of reporting with a view to reducing the level of subjectivity. Members requested that their concerns be raised with WASH and the Primary Head teachers Federation.
· The need for governor training in respect of school exclusion process and policies to ensure that governors had sufficient knowledge to appropriately scrutinise exclusion decisions. The officer reported that a training programme was being developed for trial in a selection of schools and further information in this regard could be provided to a future meeting of the Committee.
· Pastoral Support Plans – The importance of Pastoral Support Plans (PSP) to support the pupil and minimise the risk of exclusion. A member commented that a PSP should always be in place before exclusion is considered and requested that the next monitoring report include information relating to how the level of Pastoral Support Plans aligned to the level of exclusions. In addition, where a PSP was being used in a primary school this should always ... view the full minutes text for item 24.