Agenda and draft minutes

Contact: Democratic Services 

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Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Councillor Powell declared an interest as a Governor at King Henry VIII.

Councillor Hughes-Jones declared an interest as a Governor at Ysgol Gymraeg Y Fenni, Llanvihangel Crucorney and Llanfoist.

Councillor Groucott declared an interest as a Governor at King Henry VIII, and Chair of Governors at Llantilio Pertholey primary school.

Councillor Thomas declared an interest as a Governor at Ysgol Gymraeg Y Fenni.

Councillor Harris declared an interest as a Governor at Deri View primary school.

 

2.

Public Open Forum

Minutes:

No members of the public were present.

3.

Reflections on the Monmouthshire's schools through the COVID-19 Lockdown and the return to school in the summer. Verbal Update - Will McLean

Minutes:

Chief Officer Will McLean gave a general update. Following the announcement in March, the Government announced support for vulnerable learners and childcare for key worker children. Monmouthshire responded to that request very well. All of our schools have delivered those two critical aspects. The method of delivery of childcare was through Hub schools – that model worked really well. We looked at the demand in each town, the local authority took responsibility for identification and registration of childcare. There are areas of significant demand in certain places e.g. two hubs were run in Abergavenny, at Llanfoist Fawr and Deri View, due to there being a district general hospital; in the south of the county there were hubs in Rogiet and Dewstow, with a further hub in Thornwell, one in Monnow in Monmouth, and Raglan school opened to support the county’s rural centre. School clusters working to support hubs has been one of the biggest positives of this period. We’ve seen a greater level of collaboration in our clusters, with enhanced personal relations between some of the headteachers. For the Easter holidays, Monlife provided support – teachers therefore had the opportunity to step away from school. Monlife provided a combination of youth work, outdoor education and sports development. This was very well received by parents and children.

In the summer term the seven hubs were retained but it became apparent that the Secondary schools wanted to open to offer support to their vulnerable learners and key worker children. We therefore stood up 11 hubs. We decided to provide childcare up to Year 8. There was a very low uptake compared to primary. The secondary schools were able to put into place their own systems and use the time almost as one of soft testing how they would work once there was a return to school. Two of our secondary schools house Special Needs Resource Bases, both of which operated through that period.

On 22nd June, we changed our model in preparation for the return to school on 29th. Every school opened in Monmouthshire for vulnerable learners and key worker children. This allowed the hubs to have a more manageable number of children, and allowed schools to put in place operational plans and to test them. An important point to make is that childcare in this period was a significant pressure on our schools – we had a high number of children accessing the childcare, when compared to authorities of a similar size. 80 children returned in the first week, rising to over 300 by the end. MCC colleagues did very well organising the registration process, and Headteachers did very well managing the balance of key worker children and their significant desire to have as many children return as possible. This was managed without having to say no to anyone regarding childcare provision.

It has therefore been a very challenging period, but everyone involved has risen to the challenge with great success. The Minister for Education is to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Preparations for the September 2020 return to school - Debbie Harteveld & Kirsty Bevan (EAS) and Will McLean pdf icon PDF 281 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The officers presented their report. The organisational response is three-stage; the first was ‘Repurposing’, we are currently in the second (‘Check in, Catch up, Prepare’), with the third to come in September (‘Blended Learning’). Blended Learning is being prepared for, though it is not known yet exactly what the plan for September will be. School Development Plans will be reviewed in the autumn term.

Challenge:

Do we know the number of hours that parents are expected to help their children with schoolwork? How can the amount of distanced and online work being done by pupils be monitored? There is a concern again about the gap between FSM pupils and others.

The best option would be for as many pupils as possible to be back in September. We will continue to try to stay ahead of the game in terms of integrated and blended learning so that we can build on the practice already established in our schools, when those situations arise. We will ensure that schools are in the best position possible to meet the needs of learners in September.

The relationship between EAS and the local authority has been very constructive and rewarding. The work that has been done stands us in very good stead for the future. The challenges for families will not be restricted to those traditionally thought of as ‘vulnerable’. Some households have parents on-call 24 hours a day, or both are working full-time – every household has therefore faced problems and struggles during this period. Every learner needs support, for different reasons.

Chair’s conclusion:

Regardless of whatever this afternoon’s announcement holds, we have been encouraged by the work EAS has done. We have seen that there is a continuing concern about vulnerable children, and CYP Select committee will continue to monitor this in the future.

 

5.

EAS Value for Money Study - Debbie Harteveld (EAS) pdf icon PDF 878 KB

Minutes:

Assistant Director Pryce delivered a presentation to the committee. The report was written by an external consultant. The review’s purpose is to reflect on, and know, what we’re doing well, and also know where we need to improve. The review drew on a range of data aggregated across the local authority, and evidence from external experts. The review concluded that EAS is doing the right things and doing them well, and having an impact.

Challenge:

Does Monmouthshire have a generic problem with secondary teaching, as compared to primary performance, or with it not being sustained over time?

Estyn’s report agreed that primary improvement has been more rapid than in secondary. Time and attention has been spent to ensure good leadership is now in place at secondary level. Time has been taken to agree between us, the schools and EAS what our expectations for outcomes are (they are at the highest level.) Traditional metrics will unfortunately not be available in the future: first, because of the way exams have been undertaken for this cycle, we won’t be using that data in the coming year. Second, the minister has announced that categorisation is not likely to go ahead in the future year. Third, we were going into the year when Estyn was not undertaking inspections. We will have to work with EAS to find a way to give this committee, and the council generally, confidence that our schools are progressing in the right direction.

King Henry VIII school is now supporting another school, which should allow for positive, distributed leadership within that school to be developed. The existing partnership between Caldicot and Bishop of Llandaff is bearing fruit. We’re seeing progress in Chepstow under its new leadership. Monmouth Comprehensive welcomed a new headteacher yesterday – this should stimulate that school. The four secondary schools are therefore well placed to improve in the future.

With fewer staff, has there been more delegation to schools to improve, and how has that altered your method of working?

There are fewer staff in EAS, which is part of our approach to move towards a self-improving system, and enable capacity to be built within the school community. In turn, that increases the delegation and resources into schools. Much of our approach for that is to engage schools to deliver services for other schools, providing appropriate professional learning and quality assurance for that mechanism. This also helps schools to feel very connected to our work. It is logical for practitioners in schools to be the ones giving that guidance.

Under the new curriculum, humanities covers a number of subjects: will EAS ensure the right amount of resources for the different subjects?

Over time we will ensure that the appropriate resources are in place, whether that is schools working on the development of the new curriculum or staff with that expertise enabling coordination to take place. 2022 will see the introduction of a curriculum for Wales; already work has been undertaken with schools to help them think about  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Work Planning pdf icon PDF 156 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Brown noted that it would be useful to have an update in September from the Chief Officer about how matters are progressing, and how schools have coped, as well as local and border issues, etc. Chief Officer Mclean agreed to give an update in September. Councillor Groucott proposed scrutinising the possible rise of domestic violence and abuse, and how children are caught up in it.

Chair’s conclusion:

The balance between education issues and children’s social services needs to be considered: looking back, there does seem to have been a slight imbalance at times. In light of Covid-19, our priorities have changed dramatically. Our focus is going to be on children returning to school, ensuring that they have the best possible experience – this will drive the agenda.

 

7.

To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 613 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting held on Tuesday 17th March 2020 were confirmed and signed as an accurate record.

 

8.

To confirm the date and time of the next meeting

Minutes:

The next meeting is on September 8th at 10.00, with a pre-meeting at 09.30.