Agenda and minutes

Venue: Remote Meeting. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services 

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Chair Councillor Thomas declared a non-prejudicial interest as a governor of Ysgol Gymraeg Y Fenni.

 

2.

Public Open Forum

Minutes:

No members of the public were present.

 

3.

Review of Play Provision: To consider the findings of an assessment of play areas in Monmouthshire and consider the way forward

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Officers Mike Moran presented the report and answered the members’ questions, with additional responses from Matthew Lewis.

Challenge:

Clearly, there is a lack of resources for keeping play equipment up to scratch. Learning and mixing among pre-school children will be lost with the end of traditional playgrounds, disadvantaging the children as they grow up. It will be a very sad day when alternative uses are implemented.

We don’t think the situation is quite as bad as that. There has been some frustration over the years at the lack of a dedicated play budget but the officers see this as a positive way forward because it means we can attract funding to put into those play areas that will remain. Taking Monmouth as an example, we aren’t talking about taking out play areas, but a rationalisation process so that we do have good quality neighbourhood play areas with equipment made from sustainable hardwoods, with a much higher educational value than some of the current equipment.

At last year’s Playmaker conference, we asked the year 5 children if they would prefer to play on a fixed space or a green area: the vast majority said they would prefer a green space. We are talking about reducing the number we have and investing in those that remain to make them much better. Many of the areas we inherited in 1996 and 1974 from the predecessor authorities were in a bad state even then. These tend to be on former local authority housing estates – we aren’t proposing the removal of these play areas, but investing money to make them better places for children to play, and bringing in sensory planting and landscape features as research shows that these help to encourage autistic children to participate in play. We’re trying to link nature with play.

In terms of finance, we are going to spend £110k on the new Chippenham play area, last year we spent £86k in Wyesham, and this year we have accessed another £70k to invest. So this is about having a plan so that when resources become available we can apply for them, and once we have reported on the outcome of the Monmouth pilot we are hopeful that Welsh Government will realise that we’re trying to benefit the less well off in our 4 main towns.

Yes, it’s very sad to discuss this in the context of a lack of funding. I worry about what we will do with green spaces – these might be requested by year 5 children but what about swings etc. for younger ones?

This is about looking at play through a different lens. It is not to diminish the value of fixed play areas. We have perhaps fallen into the trap in recent years of not creating playable environments in a wider sense. So we are looking at what the value can be of both fixed play and the wider environment, which is perhaps more varied and has opportunities for wild play. We  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Welsh Medium Education: To discuss the strategic plan for Welsh Education

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Sharon Randall-Smith delivered the presentation and answered the members’ questions with Will McLean.

Challenge:

5.1 of the report mentions a 35% capital contribution from Monmouthshire but isn’t the contribution from Welsh Government 100% for Welsh medium schools?

We’ll have to verify the Welsh medium position with Welsh Government. Certainly, the element that we submitted for Band B around Abergavenny included Welsh medium provision, which was funded at the 65-35% intervention rate. Since then, Welsh Government has provided grant funding at 100% aside from Band B, for us to provide additional capacity in the Monmouth area and to expand Ysgol Y Ffin in the south of the county. There is funding at 100% but not within the Band B stream.

There are resource implications – Is Welsh Government fully funding these proposals, particularly in light of the problems we have with our budget on a continuous basis?

This is a matter that has been raised in other local authorities: that it does bring potential revenue pressure that isn’t funded separately from the capital funding – so they don’t fund money for the capital alongside money for the revenue. Money to educate the children is fed to us through our aggregate external finance, and we raise money locally through council tax. It’s a matter of us finding a strategic way through that balances where the children are educated and meeting that cost. The difficulty is that if our establishment is for English medium, but then we have a growing population demand for Welsh medium, we have to find the means by which we can fund the move from the English medium to the Welsh medium, without it having too big a head cost in terms of the Welsh medium in the early stages.

Does the 35% capital contribution relate to Abergavenny, and 100% is for Monmouth?

Yes, 100% is for Ysgol Y Ffin and the 65-35% is in regards to Abergavenny.

What provision will be available for ALN pupils who don’t make progress – will they automatically go back into the English school?

Yes, it’s an important question, especially regarding the availability of services available through the medium of Welsh. The strength of us working regionally: we have made rapid steps over the last 18 months in how we develop and share information. So everything for the new bill (supporting evidence, documentation) is all through the medium of Welsh. Training has been delivered in Welsh for ALN and we are very mindful, through recruitment, that we are looking for people who have the skills needed to help and support children with ALNs, but can do so in Welsh. For example, one of our SpLD team members is Welsh speaking, so can work through both mediums. We are not where we need to be, because of the recruitment issues we face, but we are working on it together as a region. We are trying to establish where we have expertise in certain areas that can be shared. Over time, we will have  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Children and Young People Select Committee Forward Work Plan pdf icon PDF 497 KB

Minutes:

The next meeting is 19th January, looking at Budget scrutiny. There will be a Welsh medium education workshop on 28th January. 11th February, EAS and Free School Meals will be covered. It is agreed that two agenda items per meeting works best.

 

6.

Council and Cabinet Work Planner pdf icon PDF 767 KB

7.

To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 468 KB

Minutes:

The minutes were confirmed and signed as an accurate record.

 

8.

To confirm the date and time of the next meeting

Minutes:

19th January 10.00am, with a pre-meeting at 09.30.