Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People Select Committee - Wednesday, 8th May, 2019 10.00 am

Venue: The Council Chamber, County Hall, The Rhadyr, Usk, NP15 1GA

Contact: Democratic Services 

No. Item


Declarations of Interest.


County Councillor M. Powell declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest for Item 4: Chief Officer’s Annual Report as a Governor of King Henry VIII Comprehensive School and member of a group to raise money for those families less able to afford school trips and events. 


The Chair welcomed Elizabeth Thomas, Provincial Diocesan Director of Education, representing the Church in Wales, to her first meeting.


Public Open Forum.


No members of the public were present.


Chief Officer's Annual Report (to follow).




The purpose of the Annual Chief Officer’s report is to inform Council of the progress that the education system has made in the past twelve months since the last report. 

•This reporting period includes the examination period that ended in August 2018, this is the second year of the ‘new GCSEs’.

•The report is not limited to analysis of school based outcomes but is intended to offer a broader view of the services that is offered to children in Monmouthshire.   


Key Issues

·         The Annual Report to Council provides all councillors with a clear understanding of where Monmouthshire’s education system is, focussing on outcomes and reporting every indicator and variance.  The report also reflects on the system as a whole.  The section on student outcomes focuses on strengths as well as areas for improvement.  Much of the comparative detail from other local authorities is no longer available but all the detailed reports have been presented to Children and Young People’s Select Committee.

·         The last year has been challenging.  Student outcomes in 2018 changed from the previous near continuous progress in the last three years.  In particular Foundation Phase and Key Stage 4 were not at expected levels. 

·         The Categorisation process in 2019 was more challenging than in previous years.  There was more volatility in the primary phase.  Some schools continued their improvement but more schools needed greater levels of support.  At the secondary stage two of our schools are now ‘Green’, this represents 1/3 of all green secondary schools in the region.

·         Delivering excellent outcomes is only part of the role of our schools.  There is also a wide range of services that Monmouthshire offers to its children and young people.  In 2018/19 attendance was better than other authorities; rates of 95.2% for our primary schools and 94.8% for our secondary schools.

·         There is an emerging trend of higher fixed term exclusions from our schools.  Headteachers have indicated that behaviour is becoming more challenging.  The causes can include underlying additional learning need, links with childhood trauma or the effects of events at home.  We need to work closely with all services to provide appropriate support for these learners. 

·         In preparation for implementing the ALN and Tribunal Act, significant work has been undertaken to streamline Statutory ALN Service functions.

·         2018/19 has been a year of significant change in school leadership.  50% of our secondary Headteachers have moved on to new opportunities and last year 30% of our primary Headteachers (9 schools) have changed.  It is recognised that the role is becoming more demanding and that the resilience of our school leaders (and all staff) needs support.

·         There are significant changes across the education system in Wales.  The new curriculum is the cornerstone of the Welsh Government’s ‘National Mission’ and will be a huge opportunity for our schools to change the way we teach our children.  This level of change will also bring challenges and it will be critical that Monmouthshire responds as a whole education system, not as individual schools, to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Scrutiny of the plans for Welsh Government to give 30 hours free childcare for nursery age - a position update and discussion on the implementation in Monmouthshire. pdf icon PDF 55 KB



To receive a position update on the Welsh Government scheme to provide 30 hours free childcare for nursery age children and to discuss the implementation in Monmouthshire.


Key Issues:

What is the Childcare Offer?

  • The Childcare Offer is a Welsh Government funded scheme that aims to support working parents with childcare costs and to help parents progress into work.
  • This offer runs alongside the universal offer for Foundation Phase Nursery education.
  • In Monmouthshire, parents can access their FPN education at an LA Nursery or with an approved non-maintained provider.
  • LA Nursery provision is 12.5 hours per week; approved non-maintained settings are funded for 10 hours per week.
  • During term time, the 30 hours available through the Childcare Offer is made up of a combination of FPN and childcare. If parents don’t access Foundation Phase Nursery provision, they can only receive funding for up to 20 hours of free childcare.
  • The Childcare Offer is available for 48 weeks of the year; during 9 weeks of the school holidays, the full 30 hours can be taken as childcare.


Who is eligible for the Childcare Offer?

  • The Childcare Offer is available to working parents from the term following their child’s 3rd birthday until they are offered a place in full time education; in Monmouthshire, this is when they enter Reception in the September following their 4th birthday.
  • The criteria for working parents is that both parents / lone parent / carer must earn equivalent to at least 16 hours a week at National Living Wage or National Minimum Wage and neither parent must earn more than £100,000 a year.


How has it been implemented in Monmouthshire?

  • Monmouthshire is only an engagement authority; Newport City Council is the delivery authority for the Childcare Offer in Monmouthshire.
  • As an engagement authority, we are required to engage with parents and childcare providers to promote the Childcare Offer. We appointed a Childcare Engagement Officer who commenced in January 2019; she supports parents and childcare providers through the application process and has advertised the offer extensively throughout Monmouthshire.
  • Newport City Council manage the application process with parents and childcare providers, checking eligibility and distributing the funding.
  • They had a few problems initially with their database provider, so there were delays to the application process for the autumn term and parents were unable to use the online application form. These issues have now been resolved and parents are able to complete their application and upload documents online, so the process has been much smoother. From the spring term onwards, childcare providers are also able to log into a portal to submit invoices and attendance data.


Where can parents access the Childcare Offer?

  • FPN education can only be accessed in an LA Nursery or with an approved non-maintained provider. We currently have 12 LA nurseries and 27 approved non-maintained providers. Take up of places is monitored termly and we currently have surplus places in all areas of Monmouthshire.
  • The childcare element can be accessed with any registered  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Presentation providing an overview of the Flying Start Programme.



To receive an update on Welsh Government funded Flying Start services delivered in areas of deprivation in Monmouthshire to children between the ages of 0-3 of Income Benefit households.


Member Scrutiny:

The Select Committee were provided with an update by the Flying Start Co-Ordinator. Questions were invited and answered as follows:


·         It was confirmed that there are Flying Start nursery and toddler groups.

·         Concerning new housing developments and the portion of affordable housing, it was explained that there is a target cap maximum number of children of 556 0-3 year olds to work with within the allocated budget.  Most services are delivered in the existing areas.  New developments can be complicated as the target cap is already achieved in the existing areas of highest need, however there are some changes in progress that will reconfigure Flying Start areas to accommodate new developments.  Families affected by changes or that leave Flying Start areas may be eligible for outreach services funded by the Children and Communities Grant if they are still in need.

·         A Member asked what intensive support is available in the medium of Welsh.  It was responded that in Abergavenny there is the Cylch Meithrin providing services, that has the services of an Early Years Advisory teacher.  Support is provided to ensure an effective environment for speech and language.

·         In response to an enquiry, it was explained that it is difficult to evaluate progress as there is currently no common comparison tool available.

·         A Member welcomed individual tracking of progress to trace the effect of Flying Start as children progress through the primary phase and noted that there is less of a FSM gap.  It was commented that a similar approach and intensive support could reap benefits in the secondary phase. It was explained that Families First has a remit for 0-25 year olds and parenting programmes are available to provide help for parents to support the education of their children.

·         A Member was reassured of the aims and asked how we can help and what grants are available.  It was confirmed that the services are funded by Welsh Government. It was suggested that it is very important that all councillors are reminded of the importance of Flying Start.  It was explained that there is little promotion of the service as families are advised by the Flying Start Health Visitors.

·         A Select Committee Member asked if staff have noticed a difference due to universal credit but it was noted that it is difficult to identify any effects yet.

·         It was queried how the number of 556 was calculated and responded that it is based on the LSOA data for income benefit households. 


The Chair reflected on the importance of the Flying Start work and thanked the Officer for the update.


To confirm the following minutes:


Children and Young People Select Committee dated 21st February 2019. pdf icon PDF 126 KB


The minutes of the meeting of the Children and Young People Select Committee held on 21st February 2019 were approved as an accurate record:


Special Meeting - Children and Young People Select Committee dated 22nd March 2019. pdf icon PDF 86 KB


The minutes of the Special Meeting of the Children and Young People Select Committee held on 22nd March 2019 were approved as an accurate record.


Actions arising from the previous meetings. pdf icon PDF 44 KB


Matters Arising:


·         From 21st February 2019 – the Chair sent a letter as agreed to the Welsh Government about the lack of specialist training for Special Educational Needs Communication teachers.  A response was received that universities have responsibility for selecting which courses to offer.


·         From 22nd March 2019: Regarding the proposal to close Mounton House Special School, it was confirmed that the Select Committee wished to see the final document.  The consultation results are available on 29th May 2019 and the report is due to go to Cabinet on the 5th June 2019 which was viewed as a short timescale with little opportunity for the Select Committee to revisit the matter especially to ensure that points made at the meeting on 22nd March 2019 have been addressed.  The Chair reminded the Committee that it is possible for the Cabinet decision to be called in and the final document could be reviewed by Select Committee in that way.


            The Chair asked that he and Officers monitor the situation and bring it back for further consideration as necessary.



Children and Young People Select Committee Forward Plan. pdf icon PDF 220 KB


The forward planner was noted. 


With regard to the Partnership Agreement, it was noted that Officers are not available to attend the next meeting.  A meeting has taken place to review some of the wording to address concerns of the Monmouthshire Association of School Governors.  It was supported that the Chair is briefed outside the meeting so that the agreement can be received by the Select Committee.



Council and Cabinet Work Planner. pdf icon PDF 84 KB


The Council and Cabinet Work Planner was noted.


Next Meeting.

Tuesday 21st May 2019 at 10.00am.


21st May 2019 at 10.00am.