Venue: Council Chamber - County Hall. View directions
Contact: Elizabeth Patterson
To receive apologies for absence.
County Councillor P Roberts (Chair)
County Councillors B Davies, S Davies, D R Jones, K Laurie-Parry, L Roberts and G Thomas
Parent Governor Representative S Davies
Church Representative M Evitts
Apologies for absence were received from County Councillor E Roderick and Parent Governor A Davies and G Robson.
County Counicllors A Davies (Portfolio Holder for Finance and Transport) and P Davies (Portfolio Holder for Education and Property)
L Lovell (Interim Head of Education), J Thomas (Head of Finance), N Owen (Finance Manager) and E Patterson (Scrutiny Officer)
Declarations of interest
To receive declarations of interest from Members.
No declarations of interest were received.
Declarations of Party Whip
To receive disclosures of prohibited party whips which a Member has been given in relation to the meeting in accordance with Section 78(3) of the Local Government Measure 2011.
(NB: Members are reminded that under Section 78 Members having been given a prohibited party whip cannot vote on a matter before the Committee.)
No declarations of Party Whip have been received.
To consider the September finance report.
The Interim Head of Education introduced the report outlining it was an update on the position that had last been reported to scrutiny in June 2019.
It is noted that the Officers and Portfolio Holder before scrutiny today had not been in their current roles when the budget was set earlier in the year. There has been a view from Welsh Government and Powys County Council Cabinet that the schools delegated budget must be protected at all costs. The Estyn report is critical of the cuts made to central services and that there is no monitoring of initiatives and yet the service are still projecting a £0.5million deficit.
The Interim Head of Education acknowledge that Estyn had found the cuts that had been made, for example to the Learning, Inclusion and Support Team (LIST), of concern. The service are undertaking a further ALN review including benchmarking to recognise gaps and identifying what is being provided and how effective this provision is. It is necessary to ascertain that the correct efficiencies are being made. It will be a challenge to find £0.5 million to meet the overspend alongside delivering the improvement outlined in the Post Inspection Action Plan (PIAP). The Estyn Inspection was unusually critical of the Central Schools Service with only one of the five recommendations relating to schools.
The Schools Service briefing report is based on information available to 30th September 2019 and forecasts the outturn at 31st March 2020 thereby detailing the half year position.
The £11k overspend in Schools Central is a result of overlap in the senior management arrangements.
The £39k overspend in school improvement is made up of 3 main areas
What impact did not backfilling seconded staff have on the service?
The seconded staff are part of the Athrawen Bro team. The service provided by schools has continued with school specific work shared between the remaining team members. There has been a loss of strategic capacity but that has been offset by the work undertaken by these staff in their ERW capacity.
Has there been a detrimental effect on the end user or the team?
Schools are still receiving a service and there has been no detrimental effect on the team who have seen it as an opportunity to develop leadership skills.
The report notes a £205k overspend in Schools Operational costs with £122k assigned to inflation in contracts (£50k in 18/19 and £70k ... view the full minutes text for item 56.
To receive a verbal update from the Chair of the Learning and Skills Scrutiny Committee.
The Chair advised that he was meeting regularly with the Interim Head of Education and the Work Programme is updated in light of these meetings.
A Member expressed a view that it was unfortunate that this meeting had been called to discuss a single item. The Chair confirmed it had been intended to look at this paper at an earlier meeting but it had been necessary to move items around on the work programme to accommodate consideration of the Inspection Report.
To consider the scrutiny work programme:
Scrutiny of the PIAP in the Pairs is being arranged for the 20th and 21st November 2019.
29th November 2019 – School Finance (jointly with representatives from Finance Panel)
22nd January 2020 – Schools organisation
31st January 2020 – Schools Service Budget proposals
2nd March 2020 – Verified results, ERW Annual Report
6th April 2020 – School organisation
16th December 2019
Scrutiny Working Group dates:
25th November 2019 - WESP
The Work Programme as outlined on the agenda was noted subject to the deferral of the meeting on 25th November 2019 looking at the WESP.