Agenda and minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, Guildhall
Contact: Craig Stevens Scrutiny Facilitator
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors Michael Dixon, Rondo Roberts and Debbie Wallice.
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 Paragraph 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, Paul D Jones, Beverley Parry-Jones, Tina Mannering – Personal and Prejudicial – LEA appointed school governor. The Councillors 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 19 July 2018
AGREED – That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 19 July 2018 be signed as a correct record.
To consider the report of the Head Finance
The Head of Finance submitted a report (HF/106/18s) to assist the Committee in considering and agreeing its work programme.
Members considered the report and commented accordingly. The following matters were raised:
· Nominations to serve on the joint task and finish group with Customers Performance Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee (CPR&G) in respect of the former Grove Park School.
· Proposed budget savings 2019/20 and 2020/21 – meeting scheduled for 3 December 2018 at 1.30pm. It was noted that the date of this meeting may be required to change if budget issues were identified.
· GwE and Local Authority Education Business Plans 2018/19 to be moved to the January 2019 meeting to allow the WCBC/GwE priorities for next year to be included. In addition, the Committee to consider the Estyn Educational Framework for Education Services at the January meeting.
· 21st Century schools band B programme deferred until Autumn 2019 to enable the programme framework to be included. Information to be made available to members of the Committee on progress on the programme in June 2019.
(i) That, subject to the aforementioned amendments the work programme be agreed.
(ii) That a Joint Task and Finish Group with CPR&G to consider The Groves be established with Councillors Dana Davies, Paul Jones, R Alun Jenkins, Carrie Harper and Robert Walsh being representatives of this Committee.
(iii) To consider all proposed budget savings that fall under the remit of this Committee together with any projected impact on school budgets. To also consider the results of the related public consultation exercise in respect of these proposals.
Variation in Order of Agenda
AGREED – That Agenda Item 6 – Report of the Scrutiny Period Poverty Task & Finish Group be brought forward and taken at this time.
To consider the report of the Task and Finish Group (copy to follow)
The Chair of the Period Poverty Task and Finish Group submitted a report (HF/117/18s) to enable the Committee to consider the recommendations from the Group.
Members’ attention was drawn to the survey responses and key messages with regard to the provision of sanitary disposal facilities and free female sanitary products, having regard to the need to spend the Welsh Government limited grant funding as efficiently as possible.
The Chair of the Group thanked task and finish members, supporting officers, Lead Members, voluntary groups and the pupils for their responses to the survey, which had driven today’s recommendations.
Suzanne Nantcurvis, WINGS Wrexham, was welcomed to the meeting and invited to address the Committee. She expressed some concern regarding the task and finish group’s proposal that sanitary dispensing shelves be provided in as many female toilet cubicles as possible in secondary schools and informed Members of the WINGS project to provide free sanitary products to two pilot schools in Wrexham which were dispensed from a private wellbeing room of the school with the added benefit of guidance and advice being available if required.
Hayley Williams, Wrexham Nappy Library addressed the Committee in respect of the benefits of sustainable products.
Members considered the report and made reference to the following issues in debate:
· The Committee’s thanks to WINGS for the work they were undertaking in the pilot schools. Acknowledgement of the added benefit of the wider discussion and support available from the WINGS model.
· Concerns regarding long term sustainability of providing sanitary products. The Head of Education reminded Members that it was essential that the model was sustainable beyond the 2 year Welsh Government funding.
· The need to respect the pupil preferences expressed in the survey.
· Noted that the proposed dispensing shelves would compliment the WINGS model.
· Practical difficulties in limiting provision only to pupils in period poverty.
· Some concern expressed regarding the ongoing costs to schools arising from the maintenance of the dispensing shelves.
· The importance of working with WINGS and the Wrexham Nappy Library going forward.
· The restrictions of the grant funding in respect of capital spending.
· Other issues highlighted from the survey which included access to toilets during the school day to be discussed by the Head of Education with the WASH and Primary Heads Federation and verbally reported back to Members.
(i) That sanitary dispensing shelves be provided in as many female toilet cubicles as possible across all secondary schools, within the limited Welsh Government grant funding available.
(ii) That, with regard to the provision of free sanitary products, the Welsh Government revenue grant funding be prioritised as follows:-
(a) the provision of sanitary towels across all Secondary Schools for direct access within the toilet cubicles, with tampons also being made available on request from a nominated member of staff, in accordance with education guidance.
(b) some provision of sanitary towels in all primary schools
(iii) That the Head of Education is requested to submit an Information Report on the spending of this Welsh ... view the full minutes text for item 20.
To consider the report of the Lead Member for People - Education
(Members declarations in relation to this item are set out in Minute 16 above)
The Lead Member for People – Education submitted a report (HEd/24/18s) to provide Members with a report in respect of the outcomes of Wrexham pupils/schools during the academic year 2017-18 which included:
• Performance in the Foundation Phase
• Performance at Key Stage 2
• Performance at Key Stage 3
• Performance at Key Stage 4 - GCSE or equivalent – Provisional
• Performance at Key Stage 5 - A levels or equivalent – Provisional
• School inspection outcomes
In addition, the report informed Members of the outcome of the Estyn Improvement Conference held in Wrexham on 5 June 2018 and provided the Committee with an overview of the work of the School Performance Monitoring Working Group in respect of individual school performance.
Presenting the report the Lead Member referred to the positive performance at Foundation Phase and Key Stage 2 and progress at Key Stage 3, but acknowledged that performance at Key Stage 4 remained unsatisfactory with too much variation within and across schools. Members were reminded of the recent significant national changes in Education in Wales. The Lead Member assured the Committee that, as highlighted in the Estyn Improvement Conference in June 2018, Estyn were assured that the local authority understood the reasons for the relatively weak performance of secondary schools. Finally, the Lead Member commended the work of the Committee’s Performance Monitoring Working Group in scrutinising schools that required improvement.
The Head of Education reminded Members that the Welsh Government had changed how performance measures were reported. He advised the Committee that improving the performance of boys and eFSM pupils at higher levels across all Key Stages remained a priority. There was a need to improve all indicators at Key Stage 4.
The Committee considered the report and were pleased to note the progress at Foundation Phase and across Key Stages. It was decided to focus the main discussion around Key Stage 4 as this remained the main area of concern and the following issues in particular were raised:
Key Stage 4
· The good work of the local authority and GwE in challenging and supporting schools.
· Concern that the rate of improvement at Key Stage 4 was slower than other stages. The Head of Education stated that some pupils had started Key Stage 4 at too low a level, commented on the importance of attendance and highlighted the differences between eFSM and non eFSM pupil attendance. He also commented that the rate of fixed term exclusions in some schools was too high.
· The Committee must focus on individual school improvement as comparative data was no longer available.
· In school and between school variation remained a concern. The GwE officer welcomed the opportunity to share at a future meeting of the Committee the work being done to address in school variation.
· Concern at the disconnect between the improvement at Key Stage 3 and the outcomes at Key Stage 4. The Head of Education commented ... view the full minutes text for item 21.
To consider the report of the Head of Finance
The Head of Finance submitted a report (HF/105/18s) to review the external representation on the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee.
Members’ attention was drawn to the guidance in respect of Co-opted Members on Scrutiny Committees contained in the report and the request to become a non-voting co-opted member of the Committee from Ms Patricia Gooding.
Members considered the report and referred to the following matters:
· Suggestion that the Committee would benefit from co-opting a member with expertise in relation to Special Educational Needs.
· The current vacancy in respect of Primary Parent Governor representative on the Committee.
· Noted that the current non-voting co-opted member appointment would expire February 2019.
· The application from Ms Patricia Gooding be not accepted at this time.
(i) That the request to become a non-voting co-opted Member of the committee by Ms Patricia Gooding not be accepted.
(ii) That the Council be recommended to seek nomination for a co-opted Member from the Special Educational Needs sector.
(iii) That the current non-voting co-opted members appointment be extended until end February 2020.