Venue: Council Chamber - County Hall. View directions
Contact: Elizabeth Patterson
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from County Councillor K Laurie-Parry and County Councillor P Davies (Portfolio Holder for Education)
County Councillor P Roberts (Chair)
County Councillors B Davies, S Davies, D Jones (for latter part of the meeting) and L Roberts
Parent Governor Representatives A Davies, S Davies and G Robson
Church Representative M Evitts
County Councillor A Davies (Portfolio Holder for Finance)
L Lovell (Interim Head of Education), E Palmer (Head of Transformation and Communications) and M Evans (Senior Manager Education Services)
Declarations of interest
To receive declarations of interest from Members.
No declaration of interests 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 declaration of party whips were received.
To consider the Transforming Education in Powys - Case for Change and Vision for Powys Schools.
The Head of Transformation and Communications explained that originally it had been planned that this paper would be put before Cabinet, be considered at scrutiny and go back to Cabinet for approval. However, it had been decided that as scrutiny had previously had involvement in this item that Cabinet would approve the paper on the 21st January allowing an opportunity to start engagement without waiting for a further Cabinet meeting to approve the paper. Scrutiny would today have the opportunity to make comments to the Officers and Portfolio Holders regarding the engagement and a further session would be arranged for scrutiny to consider the proposals before the Cabinet meeting in April.
When proposals were being considered for Post 16 education the process was delayed to wait for pupil engagement to take place. The outcome of this Learner Survey was deemed to demonstrate a number of interesting viewpoints but that no clear conclusions could be drawn. Can assurance be given that the engagement will be meaningful and of use?
The questions that will be posed are included in the papers and will be worded appropriately for different audiences and will be refined to reduce the number and avoid repetition. It is acknowledged that the questions last time were too generic.
Opportunities will be given to respond with ‘agree’, ‘disagree’, ‘don’t know’ together with an opportunity to write free text.
There is a perception that the authority are given views during engagement but these views are not listened to.
The Interim Head of Education noted that pupil voice is key and she had spoken to pupils who had left Powys to continue their post 16 education elsewhere. A film had been produced of their views which was powerful.
How can a good cross section of responses be assured?
The questionnaire will be sent to all schools and school councils. Schools will promote the questionnaire and facilitate a response from school councils. The engagement will be online and promoted on all forms of social media.
Will an opportunity be taken to use the e-sgol technology to undertake an engagement session with all High School school councils?
It has not been planned to use this method of engagement but this possibility can be explored. It is intended to undertake this round of engagement by online methods. Prior to Christmas a large amount of face to face engagement was undertaken by Officers over a short period although this was limited by purdah whereby engagement with pupils could not take place. By undertaking engagement online it will allow the capacity for Officers to progress this piece of work.
As this phase is engagement rather than consultation where will the engagement details be sited on the website?
These will be sited on the School Transformation page of the website. It will be promoted on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
· a signpost is placed on the Powys County Council consultation page of the website directing people looking for Schools Transformation engagement to the Schools Transformation page ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To authorise the Chair to sign the minutes of the following meeting(s) as a correct record:
· 7th October 2019
· 30th October 2019
· 18th November 2019
· 29th November 2019
The Chair was authorised to sign the minutes of the meetings held on the 7th October 2019, 30th October 2019, 18th November 2019 and 29th November 2019.
To receive a verbal update from the Chair of the Learning and Skills Scrutiny Committee.
The Chair advised that he had attended a Welsh Government briefing regarding the change in reporting school standards statistics with the Interim Head of Service and Vice-Chair. There was disquiet amongst the attendees regarding the lack of a common set of data for benchmarking but Welsh Government were concerned that producing this data could result in a perverse outcomes. Welsh Government were suggesting scrutiny should visit schools to gain a perspective from the school floor. Welsh Government are intending to consider the feedback and convene a further conference later in the year examining school improvement.
The Vice-Chair and Chair have continued with their monthly meetings with the Head of Service with a focus on work programming.
The following meetings are planned:
Learning and Skills Scrutiny Committee
30th January 2020 - Budget Proposals Schools Service
2nd March 2020 - Verified Standards, attendance and exclusions (to include numbers of repeat exclusions and how excludee returns or moves are managed)
ERW – annaul attendance by ERW Managing Director
6th April 2020 - Pre-decision scrutiny Strategic Review of Schools Business Case
7th February 2020 – ALN and Specialist Centres
9th March 2020 – Strategic Review of Schools – Stage 2 engagement exercise and emerging business case
The work programme as outlined in the agenda was confirmed subject to a need to look for a new date to undertake pre-Cabinet scrutiny of School Transformation ahead of the planned Cabinet meeting on 7th April.