Agenda and minutes
Venue: County Hall, Usk - Remote Attendance. View directions
Contact: Democratic Services
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Public Open Forum
Select Committee Public Open Forum ~ Guidance
Our Select Committee meetings are live streamed and a link to the
live stream will be available on the meeting page of the
Monmouthshire County Council website
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The deadline for submitting representations to the Council is 5pm
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based on theme will be shared at the Select Committee meeting.
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There were no representations from members of the public present at the meeting.
Chepstow School Update
To receive a position report on Chepstow School, as part of the 21st Century Schools Programme.
The Chief Officer introduced his briefing note, drawing member’s attention to the key points:
· Condition of the building ~ The 21st Century Schools Programme is fossed on providing sustainable buildings for the future, i.e. net zero carbon. Despite some works being undertaken at Chepstow School, the building is not energy efficient and significant work is required to bring it to the standard expected for a 21st Century school.
· Capacity ~ The current capacity is 1282 places, with 738 pupils on roll resulting in 544 surplus places – 42%. It is unlikely that numbers will change dramatically over the next 6 or 7 years with no significant growth through live births or housing development expected. The school is also currently seeing a movement of pupils to Wyedean, whilst the Headteacher and Chepstow School have worked closely with the primary schools in the cluster to encourage a greater number of children to transition to Chepstow.
· Work will commence in the next 12 months to look at primary and secondary education in the whole Chepstow area to ensure that the education estate is fit for purpose and delivers value for money.
The chair thanked the officer for his update and invited questions from the committee, as follows:
· Do we know if the costs of updating the building to meet the required sustainability standard are going to exceed the cost of a new building and when would any decision be made? Can you clarify the band funding rates referred to in the note?
You are right and this has been shown with the other two schools, so a detailed survey is needed to ascertain whether the building can tolerate that level of renewal. The band funding intervention rate for next time is not something I’m currently sighted on at the moment, as it’s still being worked through, so we’ll await clarity and update you when we have this.
· I appreciate the focus is on developing Abergavenny School at the moment, but I am pleased to see that work is being undertaken to put Chepstow on a position to be able to bid for that band C funding when it becomes available, recognising it’s a long way off in 2024-25. I’m delighted to see the improvements that have been made throughout the summer to enhance the learning environment with new lighting and reducing the carbon footprint. We hope that despite budgets being stretched, that we can continue the investment in the school. My question is what more can be done now so that Chepstow students receive equal learning environment standards as their peers?
· We are always reviewing capital finance available to us but it’s always a balance in terms of meeting the needs of all schools but we will continue to see what scope there is to continue to improve the school, that is something we can commit to.
· I also would like to suggest a survey of pupils leaving primary school to see why they are choosing Wyedean rather than Chepstow.
Welsh Education Strategic Plan
To receive a verbal update on the conclusions of the consultation process, ahead of reporting to Cabinet.
The Head of Service for Children and Young People was invited to present a brief update on the conclusions drawn from the consultation process which included face to face events with stakeholders and headteachers. The officer highlighted the following points:
· Five formal responses had been received to date, but more are expected before the deadline.
· One key conclusion is that there is generally support for the growth of Welsh Language across Monmouthshire.
· There is some disappointment in our seedling school not being open from 2022, however, from 2023. Also some concerns from the English medium schools on the impact that will have on them, and how we ensure our plan is robust enough to meet the Welsh language development in all our schools, Welsh or English medium.
· We have discussed the plan fully with Estyn and are awaiting their response.
· We have taken action around the seedling school which was discussed at your previous meeting, aiming to establish a seedling school as soon as possible, but recognising there are some significant challenges in achieving this quickly with the need for a full consultation process and an election in May 2022, however, we are confident that we can have that in place for September 2023. For children who were looking to attend that school from September 2022, we will look to provide a seedling to cover reception and year 1 in the interim and will look to communicate that to parents as soon as possible so that they can make their plans.
· The draft WESP will need to be approved by the Cabinet and then Welsh Government.
· I’m pleased to update you that the council has established a 3 year pilot for late immersion provision which is up and running with a few pupils attending and it is seeming to have quite an impact already on Ysgol Y fin and applications for 2023, so this is a huge increase on what we have seen to date. I’m pleased to advise you that to accelerate this work, the council has bid for and been awarded approximately £84,000 grant monies to support later immersion over the next 2 terms, based on additional staffing and resources and training techniques, which will help us with increased future demand.
The chair thanked the Officer for the comprehensive update and invited questions from members. Councillors Tudor Thomas and David Hughes-Jones declared personal but non prejudicial interests as governors at Ysgol Y Fin, Abergavenny.
· Recognising the best laid plans can be put off course by external influences, however in a recent governor report taken to the board of governors at King Henry, members understood that some students who had previously been receiving Welsh language provision in Torfaen had found their provision had been withdrawn and subsequently joining King Henry School, who were trying to support them. Is there any additional funding that could be made available to King Henry School to do this?
At the moment, the grant is for late immersion, not for those already ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
To report progress on the Inspire to Achieve programme in developing the skills and employment sector (also scrutinised by Economy and Development Select Committee).
The chair advised that this report had been scrutinised by the Economy and Development Select Committee and that it was being brought to this committee to on an information basis to update members on the activities being delivered by the Employment and Skills Team. The chair asked officers to briefly present the report, the main points highlighted being:
· The Team has undergone a restructure, with delivery now including Kickstart, InFuSe and the extended Communities for Work Plus delivery team.
· Kickstart is a UK Employment programme developed in response to Covid 19 and is part of the UK Government’s Covid response within their ‘Plan for Jobs’, aiming to create thousands of new, fully funded jobs across England, Scotland and Wales. The scheme aligns with Welsh Government’s Employability Plan in preparing for a radical shift in the world of work, responding to current and future skills gaps and providing a personalised approach to employability support. The Scheme aims to create fully subsidised, six-month work placements for individuals aged 16- 24 who are claiming Universal Credit and are at risk of long-term unemployment.
· InFuSe: this is the European Social Fund (ESF) public sector innovative future services programme, which aims to build skills and capacity for Innovation in public services across the Cardiff Capital Region. The programme enables employees to seek to tackle a range of real-world local challenges including Decarbonisation of Council fleets; Home energy efficiency; Opportunities for energy from dog fouling; Maximising supply chains through procurement; and Asset Based Community Development.
· The Employment and Skills Team are leading on/delivering projects with an estimated value of £2.4m in the 2021-22 financial year in line with project targets and outcomes.
· Inspire2Achieve, Inspire2Work and Skills@Work which are ESF funded projects, will end in December 2022 with the conclusion of this EU funding stream. This presents a challenge for the sustainability of the local authorities’ NEET and unemployment figures. The loss of provision coupled with the experience, knowledge and skills set of these teams will negatively impact upon Monmouthshire residents.
· Torfaen County Borough Council are leading on an Employability Paper on behalf of the ten Local Authorities of the Cardiff Capital Region, which sets out the region’s future employment and skills demands and explores how the Shared Prosperity Fund can support this going forward.
· The report that has been approved by the CCR Strategic Board will be taken through all the Local Authorities’ Cabinets.
· In the interim, a regional Community Renewal Fund bid was submitted for short term funding between August 2021 and March 2022 in readiness for a subsequent bid to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund in 2022/23.
· It is hoped that the bid will enhance the current service by:
- Developing a Triage system – a mechanism to ensure referrals to the right support;
- Employing a Wellbeing Engagement Worker
- Enhancing the Digital and outreach engagement
- Sourcing employment opportunities in Construction and Digital
- Targeting employment support for homeless/at risk of homelessness
The chair thanked the team who had given their time ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
The chair drew members’ attention to the next meeting of the Children and Young People’s Select Committee that would discuss the Youth Offending Service and Budget Monitoring Month 7. The committee agreed to call a Special Meeting on 31st January at 2pm to scrutinise the Council’s budget proposals.
The committee noted the report but did not highlight anything needed particular scrutiny that hadn’t been taken into account in developing the Select Committee’s work programme.
The minutes of the previous meeting were agreed and seconded.
Date and time of the next meeting: 20th January 2022