Agenda and minutes
Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 19th April, 2018 3.00 pm
Venue: Council Chamber, Guildhall
Contact: Tracy Davies Scrutiny Facilitator
Webcast: View the webcast
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors T Alan Edwards, Paul Jones and Rondo Roberts and co-opted member Mr Brent Evans.
Declarations of personal interests, if any
Members are reminded of their responsibility, under Paragraph 11 of the Members’ Code of Conduct, to declare the existence and nature of any personal interest in respect of any of the business to be transacted at this meeting
Members were reminded of their responsibility, under Article 11 of the Members’ Code of Conduct, to declare any interests in relation to any of the business to be transacted at this meeting. The following declarations were made:
Agenda Item 5 – Councillors Dana Davies, Carrie Harper and Debbie Wallice – Personal – Parent of child at a Wrexham school. The Councillor remained in the meeting taking part in the discussion and voting thereon.
Agenda Item 5 – Councillors R Alun Jenkins, Beverley Parry-Jones and Robert Walsh – Personal and Prejudicial. The Councillor remained in the meeting and claimed an exemption under Article 12(2) of the Members’ Code of Conduct taking part in the discussion and voting thereon.
To sign as a correct record the Minutes of the Meeting held on 8 February 2018
AGREED – That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 8 February 2018 be signed as a correct record.
To consider the report of the Head Finance
The Head of Finance submitted a report (HF/46/17s) to assist the Committee in considering and agreeing its work programme.
The Scrutiny Facilitator presented the report drawing Members’ attention to the following:
· Proposal to hold an All Member Workshop in September 2018 to ensure the wider involvement of all Members to consider how effective the Scrutiny Committee was in supporting improvement in education. Referring to the Centre for Public Scrutiny document ‘Back to School’, a Member requested that consideration be given in future to the scheduling of more than one item per meeting on the work programme to maximise the Committee’s effectiveness. The Head of Education requested that where the Committee scheduled more than one item per meeting, Officer capacity to submit those reports was taken into account.
· Budget setting scrutiny – September meeting of the Committee allocated to consider budget items identified at the All Member Workshops and an additional meeting to be scheduled in December, if required, to consider any specific consultation responses.
· Topic Selection Form at Appendix 1 to the report in respect of Period Poverty. The Lead Member and Service Manager reported that work was currently being undertaken to explore how best to allocate the recent funding announced by Welsh Government for local authorities to help tackle the issue of period poverty The Committee agreed to establish a task and finish group based on the outcomes and issues in the topic selection form to support the review and consider the funding allocation and future revenue funding issues.
(i) That the work programme be agreed.
(ii) That a task and finish group comprising of the following Members be established to consider the issue of Period Poverty:
Councillor Dana Davies
Councillor Sonia Benbow-Jones
Councillor Carrie Harper
Councillor Frank Hemmings
Councillor Adrienne Jeorett
Councillor Gwenfair Jones
To consider the report of the Lead Member for People – Education
(Members declarations of interest in relation to this item are set out in Minute 41 above)
The Lead Member for People (Education) submitted a report (HF/08/18s) to provide Members with information about the standards achieved by groups of vulnerable learners in Wrexham in 2017 and to provide Members with information about the verified GCSE results in 2017, focusing on the Level 2 inclusive indicator.
The Head of Education reported that owing to the small cohort size the outcomes for Looked After Children had not been included in today’s report but would be shared with Members as a confidential information report.
The Chair welcomed representatives from GwE to the meeting. He then invited Committee members to comment and ask questions on the report. The following issues were highlighted in debate:
· The improvements in free school meals (FSM) performance across most key stages in 2016 were noted and welcomed by the Committee. The need for improvement at Key Stage 4 was identified.
· The inadequacy of the FSM indicator as an identifier of need in light of changes to the benefits system. Requested that representations be made to Welsh Government in this regard.
· Difficulties in identifying pupils not claiming FSM but who had similar needs. This impacted upon the support that schools could provide via the Pupil Development Grant.
· Changes to the indicator used by the Welsh Government to calculate the Pupil Development Grant (PDG) were reported to the Committee which could disadvantage schools with increasing FSM levels.
· Difficulties in sharing information to promote eligibility for FSM arising from GDPR requirements.
· The difficulties in measuring the impact of PDG on achievement. It was noted that PDG could be used to provide activities for groups of pupils requiring intervention, so long as it primarily targeted FSM learners before other vulnerable groups. The GwE Officer commented on the role of GwE in providing advice and guidance to schools on the effective use of the grant.
· Increase in the incidence of pupils with additional needs on early years entry and its impact on the Foundation Phase. The GwE Officer reported that this was a key priority for the regional early years intervention group in terms of the continual professional development offer from GwE.
· Further information sought in respect of support for speech and language development in early years. It was reported that the early years PDG in Wrexham was used to employ a speech and language outreach officer who worked with staff and parents with the early identification of issues and developing strategies of support.
· Members were informed of a programme of targeted support for schools at key stage 2 to support teachers in improving the outcomes of FSM learners.
· Members were reassured that the improved performance at key stage 2 was likely to continue, based on the tracking data provided to the local authority by schools.
· The difference in the targets set and level of achievement at key stage 4, level 2 inclusive. It was reported that changes to the GCSE qualifications and criteria ... view the full minutes text for item 44.
As this was the last meeting of the Committee prior to the Annual Meeting of the Council the Chair thanked Members for their hard work and support during the year.