Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People Select Committee - Thursday, 14th October, 2021 10.00 am

Venue: County Hall, Usk - Remote Attendance. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services 


No. Item


Declarations of Interest


Tudor Thomas and David Hughes-Jones declared a non-prejudicial interest as governors at Ysgol Gymraeg Y Fenni, and Maureen Powell declared a non-prejudicial interest as a governor at King Henry VIII.


Public Open Forum.

Select Committee Public Open Forum ~ Guidance


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No public submissions were received.


Return to School Update

Brief verbal update on return to school and pandemic implications.


Will McLean gave a verbal update and answered the members’ questions.


The SLT at King Henry VIII has received unpleasant and threating messages from anti-vaxxers – is there any reassurance that these people can be identified, and any action taken?

All of our secondary schools will have received messages of this kind – perhaps even the same messages, copied and pasted. We’ve worked very well with our colleagues in Aneurin Bevan and are grateful for their work. Mererid Bowley, one of the public health consultants, has met with the secondary headteachers to talk through the process. It is positive that the vaccinations have been taken on at the mass vaccination centres, rather than at a school level. We work with colleagues in the legal department regarding correspondence received; there have been other instances in Monmouthshire where we have escalated that to other agencies. Headteachers should never have to receive this type of correspondence, and we are supporting them in their responses.

Teachers who can’t be involved because of Covid therefore can’t be involved in development of the new curriculum. Does this pose a threat to its effective introduction?

The curriculum challenge is significant. We are only two and a half terms away from its implementation. If there is a significant burden on leaders to be engaged with the management of operational matters, including Covid, then it will indeed take away from some of their capacity to engage fully with curriculum development. However, they have had an extended period of time for preparation. But, yes, the ability to engage at the moment is a significant concern. We will discuss curriculum implementation with our Estyn colleagues in our meeting tomorrow.

Regarding King Henry attendance, the leadership is concerned that the most vulnerable children are now not attending in notable numbers. Can we return to the older model of someone knocking on doors?

Richard Austin has done a huge amount of work, nationally and locally, in how we support our schools regarding understanding the Welsh Government’s position. Their position remains that they don’t want to bring back some of the more pecuniary interventions relating to attendance. We are using EWOs to ensure that we are engaging with those young people to get them back into school especially as they are often the most vulnerable learners. In Monmouthshire, our attendance is normally in the mid-90%; the figure at King Henry indeed represents a significant drop-off, doubtless due in large part to Covid. But we do need to ensure that those children return to school. There are some children with significant anxiety caused by the pandemic, so different approaches need to be considered for different circumstances.

Would it be more sensible for Welsh Government to postpone the new curriculum, to give more time to organise after Covid and give the teachers the chance to take it on board properly?

When the new minister for Education, Jeremy Miles, was elected he undertook a review of this: the change he made was that secondary schools could  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Welsh Education Strategic Plan

To scrutinise the draft WESP.

Additional documents:


Sharon Randall-Smith presented the report and answered the members’ questions.


Could we have more detail about how late immersion provision works?

The late immersion provision that we’ve identified in the WESP has started as a pilot – the local authority has funded this so that we can develop the right model for us. Welsh immersion looks different in each authority depending on their starting point, rurality, proximity, etc. We have done research into different models with Ysgol Y Ffin: they have visited other schools that offer Welsh immersion provision, had contact with colleagues across Wales, worked with Welsh Government, and have started to develop our own model. Currently, we have two pupils receiving intense Welsh language support for a portion of the day, and then spending time in their own classes so that they have full access to the curriculum. This is in Ysgol Y Ffin because that is in the area where we know we need to grow the opportunities for Welsh medium education as soon as possible. But we need to look at this more broadly across the authority, considering our aspiration to have 120 per cohort – we will need to look at this development when we look at the third school in the Monmouth area. The current immersion provision will look at how we can scale up over time. Welsh Government just announced that we are able to apply as a local authority for a Latecomers To Welsh immersion grant, of up to £100k – we will submit our application form before the deadline of the end of March, and we will know how we are going to use it to accelerate the things we have already put in place, particularly training to our Welsh medium schools in the delivery of immersion techniques.

What is our provision and strategy for tackling speech and language therapy through the medium of Welsh?

This is a challenge across the region, generally. We have one Welsh-speaking member of our SpLD team, which is hugely beneficial to us and our Welsh-medium learners. We will have to work with Aneurin Bevan Health Board to secure more Welsh speakers in the services that support our youngsters with speech and language and communication. Jacquelyn Elias and her team are working closely with regional colleagues to move that forward as quickly as possible. It is very difficult to find someone who is qualified to deliver the provision and also speaks Welsh, hence the ambition to do that within the lifetime of the WESP. However, no-one is underestimating that challenge.

Regarding pupils moving from primary to secondary over the past few years many pupils have been withdrawn from Welsh medium education because of circumstances at Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw. How are these pupils catered for? What is the county council doing to help this significant number of pupils, and avoid the drain of pupils from Welsh medium education in the future?

It is parental choice, however, there is a concern that the numbers transferring are  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Children and Young People Select Committee Forward Work Programme pdf icon PDF 509 KB


FSM strategy is unlikely to be ready by the next meeting, and ALN should come before it, so needs to be added. Members requested that a discussion of Chepstow school be added to the next meeting. Councillor Brown requested an update on the progress of the new school building there, and Councillor Edwards proposed discussing what could be put in place while waiting for everything to progress with the 21st Century schools programme. The Chair cautioned that perhaps a great deal can’t be said at this stage regarding Chepstow.



Cabinet and Council Work Plan pdf icon PDF 210 KB


To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 626 KB


The minutes were confirmed and signed as an accurate record, proposed by Councillor Groucott, and seconded by Councillor Powell.



To confirm the date and time of the next meeting


Thursday 2nd December 10:00am.