Agenda and minutes
Venue: County Hall, Usk - Remote Attendance. View directions
Contact: Democratic Services
Declarations of interest
Personal non-prejudicial interests were declared by Councillor Thomas as a Governor at Ysgol Gymraeg Y Fenni, Councillor Powell as a Governor at King Henry VIII, Councillor Jones as a Governor at Ysgol Gymraeg Y Fenni, Tony Easson as a Governor at Ysgol Y Ffin, and Maggie Harris as a Governor at Deri View.
Public Open Forum
Select Committee Public Open Forum ~ Guidance
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Canllawiau ~ Fforwm Agored Cyhoeddus y Pwyllgor Dethol
Mae ein cyfarfodydd Pwyllgor Dethol yn cael eu ffrydio'n fyw a bydd dolen i'r ffrwd fyw ar gael ar dudalen gyfarfod gwefan Cyngor Sir Fynwy
Os hoffech i rannu eich barn ar unrhyw gynigion sy'n cael eu trafod gan Bwyllgorau Dethol, gallwch gyflwyno eich sylwadau drwy ddefnyddio'r ffurflen hon
· Rhannwch eich barn drwy lanlwytho ffeil fideo neu sain (uchafswm o 4 munud) neu os yn well gennych;
· Cyflwynwch gynrychiolaeth ysgrifenedig (drwy Microsoft Word, uchafswm o 500 gair)
Y dyddiad cau ar gyfer cyflwyno sylwadau i'r Cyngor yw 5pm dri diwrnod gwaith clir cyn y cyfarfod.
Os bydd y sylwadau a dderbynnir yn fwy na 30 munud, bydd detholiad o'r rhain, yn seiliedig ar thema, yn cael eu rhannu yng nghyfarfod y Pwyllgor Dethol. Bydd yr holl sylwadau a dderbynnir ar gael i gynghorwyr cyn y cyfarfod.
Os hoffech awgrymu pynciau i un o'n Pwyllgorau Dethol graffu arnynt yn y dyfodol, gwnewch hynny drwy e-bostio Scrutiny@monmouthshire.gov.uk
Written Representation from Mary Ann Brocklesby, Governor Deri View Primary School and Abergavenny Town Councillor. In my personal capacity.
Dear Committee Members,
Below is my response to the consultation document on the proposed all through school in Abergavenny. The proposal outlines with clarity why King Henry VIII school needs to be replaced with a learning environment that is fit for purpose as a school for the 21st century. It is less clear about the benefits for Deri View (DV). In my view it also fails to set the strategic direction for the new school in a number of key areas.
1. The evidence base
The evidence base is weak. We are being asked to back one of the biggest investments in Abergavenny and its future based on a set of assumptions without the evidence to show the new school will, on balance, produce better outcomes for children in DV’s catchment area than those already achieved by a thriving school which is continually improving. This has been detailed elsewhere in the submission by DV’s governing body. I will not restate the arguments here, other than to say MCC has not shown due diligence or undertaken robust assessments required under the socio-economic duty of care, protected characteristics, especially age, and the WBFG Act. Surely a major oversight for a school with 46%, and rising, of the children receiving FSM.
2. Nursery provision
Excluding nursery provision from the remit of the proposal because it will be non-maintained is extraordinary. Impacts assessments for proposed provision for this critical age group in an area of disadvantage is not only necessary, its mandatory. These assessments should be attached to the proposal they are not. The current proposal downgrades current provision, both in terms of time and access with hours cut and no guarantee of places within the new private nursery. The potential loss of provision for vulnerable and disadvantaged children, especially those just above the threshold of flying start risks greater disadvantage and vulnerability not less.
3. Involvement and collaboration of parents
There is scant evidence that parents and the wider community around DV have been contacted and involved in plans for the school and their children’s education. The mood of the public meeting I attended at DV was one of hurt and concern that their views were being sought at such a late stage in the proposal’s development without any sense of what the loss of DV might mean to the community. Parents are not convinced that the safety of their children, the transition to secondary education, the role DV has played in promoting community cohesion and connection has been taken into account and valued. For some parents it is yet another example of their community being excluded and forgotten.
The proposal as it now stands is neither consistent with MCC’s sustainable development policy of involvement and collaboration or sufficiently robust in how it has, and will in future: a) collaborate with parents and the community in affecting change in socio-economic deprivation and b) ... view the full minutes text for item 2.
Discuss the emerging themes following the close of consultation on 22nd June 2021
Will McLean delivered the presentation and answered the members’ questions.
Given the low level of community feedback, are the numbers standard in comparison to other consultations, on similar projects? Will further consultation be required?
In a catchment area review most people were positive but didn’t express their views, so that the more vocal opposition dominated. When we postponed the exercise and did it again in the last couple of years, one of the key pieces of feedback was that people thought it was going to happen so didn’t engage with it. Some of the approaches we set out in the consultation paper have exercised some people – the maintained/non-maintained issue brought out a significant voice from a number of people. Feedback numbers are therefore broadly similar. The engagement events that we have held have been very reassuring for people. At this time, we don’t think that further consultation is necessary regarding governance, though there will be a great deal concerning how the school will look, operate, etc. Tim Bird has joined the team directly from Monmouth Comprehensive School, where he was responsible for the delivery of the successful project we had there. He will bring that experience of collaboration and engagement into the team and the work that we do with the schools in the future.
If the route is to go to a non-maintained nursery provision at Year 3, the Flying Start children will have nowhere to go. Won’t Year 3 become elitist for those people who can afford to pay for that education?
There is a plan to relocate some Flying Start provision and include in the new school setting, which will be beneficial, and retain the Acorn Centre on the Deri View site for Flying Start provision. So we intend to expand and develop that opportunity for parental engagement, for support for those children. We are looking to create that sense around family and children’s centres; we know how important the first 1000 days are, but equally, how they link through into their schooling life.
Can we consider travel for children who continue Welsh after GCSE, if there is still not the option for them to do so within Monmouthshire?
We thought that the Welsh medium stream would be a positive development as it would give an in-county solution for Welsh medium education after primary school, but in the discussions with colleagues in the forum it has been very clear about that affecting the experience that those children have. The conversations that are planned for colleagues in Blaenau Gwent, Merthyr and south Powys have the potential to create a viable opportunity in the future. If Ysgol Y Ffeni moves to being a two-form entry school soon, Y Ffin will be a single-form entry – an expansion up to 210 –, and hopefully there will be additional capacity added in the NE of the county. But even those numbers wouldn’t give us sufficient quantum to have our own secondary provision in Monmouthshire. So collaboration will be ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
Tyrone Stokes and Nicola Wellington presented the report and answered the members’ questions.
Two Welsh medium schools are running to deficit: can you expand on that, and how do we get them out of it?
We are finding that with small schools such as Ysgol Y Ffin that the funding attracted through the formula doesn’t always generate enough to support the school’s fixed costs. Under the regulations, we must give out 70% on pupil numbers, so if the numbers are less then any surplus made can’t be offset against the premises’ costs and resources, as would happen in a larger school. This is something that we grapple with every year, and we provide support in those circumstances.
Ysgol Y Fenni is forecasting a deficit. We are working very closely with that school, looking at staff structures, in particular. It is a growing school, with pupils coming in, but we think a review of the staffing will help with the deficit position.
Thank you to officers for everything they do to try to balance the budget. It is unfortunate that Children’s Services always exceeds its budget.
It is not solely a Monmouthshire issue, or Wales, but is a UK issue. There are councils such as Wakefield that can’t get provision for high-cost placements. Once a local authority goes to high-cost providers, they know that they are the last resort. We try to reduce and negotiate those costs but are powers are less strong than the provider. We actively look through our Multi Agency Service Strategy team to try to bolster that support in-house so that it is only a temporary measure. then we try to move the children back into county, but that’s not just on the grounds of finances – it has to be right for the child. The legal challenge concerning kinship carers has led us to realign the rates that we pay them to be equal to what we pay foster carers. This couldn’t have been foreseen, and made up a quarter of our overspend.
Chepstow secondary school is in deficit, but not the others. Can you expand on that?
Chepstow has faced several challenges concerning a staffing structure that they have tried to put through. Unfortunately, the restructure was delayed by the pandemic, but it has now been implemented, as of this month. The savings will take a while to come through, and they faced a year of those higher costs because at the point in time when they wanted to make the change the pandemic started. Their recovery plan reflects that delay in the timescales.
Regarding the ALN budget, what income comes in to balance the books now that Mounton House is no longer in operation?
Yes, Mounton House received an income from students placed there from other authorities. The income we now receive is for pupils placed from other authorities into our mainstream schools.
As far as schools go, we’ve never been in such a positive situation: not long ago, there was ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Children and Young People Select Forward Work Plan
In January 2022, the committee would like an update on Chepstow Comprehensive.
The minutes were confirmed and signed as an accurate record, proposed by Councillor Powell and seconded by Councillor Brown. Councillor Edwards wished to clarify that he did attend the previous meeting.
Date and Time of the next meeting: 14th October 2021