Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Council Chamber, County Hall, The Rhadyr, Usk, NP15 1GA

Items
No. Item

1.

Appointment of Chair

Minutes:

We noted the appointment of County Councillor S. Howarth as Chair.

2.

Appointment of Vice-Chair

Minutes:

We noted the appointment of County Councillor M. Groucutt as Vice-Chair.

3.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

County Councillor M. Powell declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest pursuant to the Members’ Code of Conduct in respect of agenda item 8 - Consultation on the draft Autism (Wales) Bill, as her grandson has learning difficulties and comes under the Autism umbrella.

 

County Councillor J. Watkins declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest pursuant to the Members’ Code of Conduct in respect of agenda item 8 - Consultation on the draft Autism (Wales) Bill, as her child is in the process of autism diagnosis.

 

Mr. M. Fowler declared a personal, non-prejudicial interest pursuant to the Members’ Code of Conduct in respect of agenda item 8 - Consultation on the draft Autism (Wales) Bill, as his sons are diagnosed with autism so he has experience of the system.

 

4.

Public Open Forum

Minutes:

There were no members of the public present wishing to address the Select Committee.

5.

Confirmation of the following minutes:

5a

Adults Select Committee - 10th January 2018 pdf icon PDF 148 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the Adults Select Committee dated 10th January 2018 were confirmed and signed by the Chair, subject to County Councillor L. Brown being identified as the Vice Chair of the Committee.

5b

Adults Select Committee - 23rd January 2018 pdf icon PDF 205 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the Adults Select Committee dated 23rd January 2018 were confirmed and signed by the Chair, subject to County Councillor L. Brown being identified as the Vice Chair of the Committee.

 

5c

Special Meeting - Adults Select Committee - 8th February 2018 pdf icon PDF 137 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the special meeting of the Adults Select Committee dated 8th February 2018 were confirmed and signed by the Chair, subject to County Councillor L. Brown being identified as the Vice Chair of the Committee.

5d

Special Meeting - Children and Young People Select Committee - 24th January 2018 pdf icon PDF 160 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the special meeting of the Children and Young People Select Committee dated 24th January 2018 were confirmed and signed by the Chair.

5e

Children and Young People Select Committee - 1st February 2018 pdf icon PDF 220 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of Children and Young People Select Committee dated 1st February 2018 were confirmed and signed by the Chair.

5f

Special Meeting - Children and Young People Select Committee - 13th February 2018 pdf icon PDF 167 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the special meeting of the Children and Young People Select Committee dated 13th February 2018 were confirmed and signed by the Chair.

6.

Homelessness and Prevention - Bed and Breakfast Use pdf icon PDF 344 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Context:

 

To receive an overview of the Council’s use of Bed and Breakfast (B & B) accommodation in respect of the Council’s delivery of its homeless service and to consider the option of leaving units of homeless accommodation vacant for emergencies, specifically for families with children or for 16 / 17 year olds.

 

Key Issues:

 

·         Under the Housing (Wales) Act 2014, the Council has a duty to respond to homelessness. The focus of the Act is homeless prevention.  However, where homelessness cannot be prevented the Council has other duties, including accommodation duties.  In the event of homelessness, the Act requires the Council to:

 

-       provide interim accommodation for applicants in priority need (S.68).  The definition of priority need includes families with children and 16/17 year olds.

 

-       help secure (this is not an absolute duty) accommodation and (S.73)

a duty to secure accommodation for applicants in priority need (S.75)

 

·         The Council has a range of accommodation that is used to discharge these duties, together with the duty to prevent homelessness.   Nevertheless, accessing an adequate supply of this accommodation is an on-going challenge for the Council.  Not only is homeless accommodation itself in short supply, but it is a small part of the wider Monmouthshire housing market, which also has an under-supply of affordable accommodation.  The rural nature of the County further compounds the situation. 

 

·         The challenge of providing homeless accommodation includes only having one family hostel (which is in Monmouth); the private leasing scheme has contracted over recent years; private sector accommodation is difficult to access (eg unaffordable or landlords will not accept homeless applicants); Monmouthshire County Council accommodation is typically at capacity and there is a need to have regard to the Homelessness (Suitability of Accommodation) (Wales)  Order 2015, safeguarding and community safety issues.  Although the hostel operates as emergency family accommodation, no accommodation is kept vacant for contingency or emergency purposes due to the day to day demand.

 

·         Should it not be possible to prevent homelessness and placements are necessary, every effort is made to place households in the most suitable type of accommodation and suitably located.  The views and support of other professionals and agencies, such as public protection, social workers and health visitors will be considered to inform accommodation placements.  On occasions the use of B & B accommodation is necessary.  This, however, is an absolute last resort.  B & B accommodation for any applicant is only used for an applicant if no other accommodation can be sourced or if the applicant is deemed to pose a risk to other households or applicants.  The latter is not uncommonly identified through risk assessment procedures.

 

·         As at the end of February 2018, 39 B & B placements had been necessary.  This is an increase from 2016/17.

 

·         It has been an on-going priority in respect of the Council’s homeless service to continually seek to strengthen homeless prevention and to identify additional forms of accommodation.  It is proposed that services continue to be reviewed on an on-going basis. 

 

·         To consider the option of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Consultation on the draft Autism (Wales) pdf icon PDF 485 KB

Minutes:

Context:

 

To scrutinise the proposals contained in the Draft Autism (Wales) Bill with a view to informing the Council’s response.

 

Key Issues:

 

In broad terms the Autism (Wales) Bill seeks to:

 

·          Require the Welsh Government to publish a strategy for meeting the needs of children and adults in Wales.

 

·          Require the Welsh Government to issue statutory guidance to underpin the strategy.

 

·          Ensure a clear and consistent pathway to diagnosis of autism spectrum conditions in every local area across Wales.

 

·          Ensure that local authorities and health boards understand and take necessary action so that children and adults with autism spectrum conditions get the timely support they need (this might include, for example, putting duties on local authorities and health boards about the organisation of support for people with autism and their families, in their local areas).

 

·          Establish practices, including the possible creation of a register, to enable the collection of reliable and relevant data on the numbers and needs of children and adults with autism spectrum conditions so that responsible local bodies can plan accordingly.

 

·          Ensure that local authorities and health boards publish information on the services they provide for people with autism spectrum conditions in their areas.

 

·          Regularly review the strategy and statutory guidance to ensure progress.

 

·           Raise public awareness and understanding of the needs of children and adults with autism.

Member Scrutiny:

 

·         Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) should appear in the draft Autism (Wales) Bill as it is a wide ranging medical condition.

 

·         ASD should not refer to other neurological conditions as there is such a wide spectrum that needs to be defined as autistic spectrum. 

 

·         There are clear needs for all professional agencies to become involved. The Public Service Board will play a key role in developing joint agency working amongst key partners.

 

·         It is important that parents receive a diagnosis as soon as possible and have the relevant support mechanisms established.

 

·         Over time, inter agency collaboration should become normal practise.

 

·         The need to raise awareness of ASD is key.  Continuous support should be provided for families, the community and for the professional support being provided.

 

·         There is a need for common data in order to have a national common support system.

 

·         It was noted that ASD is often accompanied by co-morbid conditions and therefore often has to allow for those disorders to also be addressed.

 

·         Tourette’s Syndrome should be included as it can sometimes be accompanied with ASD.

 

·         Timescales for diagnosis in South East Wales have the ISCAN procedures which should be helping to improve timescales.

 

·         This is a draft Bill for consultation.  There will be a re-drafting of the Bill after the consultation period has ended taking on board comments received across Wales.

 

·         ASD parent support groups exist but these need to receive proper support in order to help parents that have received an ASD diagnosis for their children.

 

·         An ASD diagnosis might change as the child grows.  This needs to be recognised with appropriate support being provided.

 

·         Only two schools in Monmouthshire have completed an  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Presentation by the Education Achievement Service (EAS) regarding the New Curriculum for Wales

Minutes:

Context:

 

To scrutinise the new Curriculum for Wales.

 

Key Issues:

 

The Joint Select Committee received a presentation from the Interim Assistant Director of the Education Achievement Service (EAS) outlining a progress update in respect of the new Curriculum for Wales.

 

Member Scrutiny:

 

·         There is now Religious Education (RE) expertise in the Humanities Area of the Learning Experience Group.

 

·         There will be a phased introduction of the new Curriculum. Schools will need to adapt their curricula and try the new methodologies going forward. However, this will not have a detrimental effect on young people studying the existing GCSE qualifications.

 

·         Qualifications Wales is a part of the development of the new Curriculum and will spend time between now and 2020 developing those new qualifications.  There will be a route to specialism provide through the new Curriculum.

 

·         The new Curriculum will see even more significant divergence with England which is moving further away from England’s linear model.

 

·         In response to concerns raised regarding the new Curriculum, it was noted that in terms of the Scottish Model it was not the design of the curriculum but the approach that was taken to preparing the workforce and professional learning that was undertaken which was insufficiently funded.  This meant that practitioners were not prepared to change so the assessment system had not been changed.  With regard to the knowledge and specialism, in an integrated system, this is more important.  The value of cross curricular working deepens pupils understanding of a range of issues.  With regard to the religious education perspective, one of the challenges that humanities groups are going to face is how they can look at the contribution of religious education to the broader Humanities but ensure that sufficient guidance is available to SACREs so that they devise their own syllabi within local authorities.

 

·         A new career path for teachers will ensure that they are fit to deliver the education required via the new Curriculum.

 

·         In response to a question raised regarding students taking GCSE examinations early, it was noted that the issue surrounding this matter is the perceived pressure and accountability.  The current performance measures are that schools are looking to maximise performance of young people.  Research indicates that if pupils stay the course for the two years of a GCSE, the outcomes are likely to be better at the end of this period.  In terms of teachers meeting the skills requirements for teaching the new Curriculum, this will have to be a professional learning exercise.  This can be supported regionally by the EAS.

 

·         The two schools within Monmouthshire that are taking part in the Curriculum Pioneer Network are Shirenewton and Trellech Primary Schools.  The new Curriculum aims to make the learning experience authentic and real for young people.

 

·         The EAS will provide funding for all schools this year which comes with the condition of it being used to support the understanding of reform.  By the time that the draft new Curriculum will be published in April 2019, all schools and practitioners have had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

National Report on School Categorisation 2017- 18 pdf icon PDF 336 KB

Minutes:

Context:

 

To scrutinise the new national school categorisation system and Monmouthshire school categorisations.

 

Key Issues:

 

The Minister for Education and Skills announced the introduction of the National School Categorisation System in September 2014. The system, which covers both primary schools and secondary schools, has evolved over subsequent years.

 

For 2017-2018, Welsh Government will remove the data-driven judgement that places schools into a standards group as part of Step 1. Discussion around the school’s self-evaluation will be the central feature of the model going forward, with a school’s data forming the starting point of discussions within the school, and with their Challenge Adviser, about their capacity to improve in relation to leadership, teaching and learning.

 

Member Scrutiny:

 

·         In response to a question raised regarding the disparity between steps 2 and 3 of our secondary schools and what the barriers are to Monmouthshire’s two schools that are in the green category in step 2 to making it through to a full green category in step 3, it was noted that there are individual circumstances for those schools with regard to their current status.  These schools are very close to becoming ‘green’ schools.  Draft categorisation will be looked at this summer term and will be reviewed again.

 

·         Reference was made to primary / infant / junior schools where 50% or more of pupils over the last three years are in receipt of free school meals.  In doing so, a Member expressed concern that, in areas of Monmouthshire, there are pockets of deprivation in terms of free school meals (FSM) and that those pupils might not be receiving the support that they require.  It was noted that with regard to these schools, the challenge adviser would be working closely with the head teacher and staff to identify what the pupils require, such as the types of intervention.  When the challenge adviser decides what is required in terms of appropriate support, there will be a range of factors in addition to that being taken into account.

 

 

 

 

 

Committee’s Conclusion:

 

We noted the report presented by the Principal Challenge Adviser for Monmouthshire regarding School Categorisation 2017/18.

 

 

 

10.

Verbal update regarding School Placement / Capacity

Minutes:

We received a verbal update by the Chief Officer for Children and Young People regarding school placement capacity.

 

In doing so, the following information was provided:

 

·         This exercise is undertaken annually.

 

·         The number of children in Monmouthshire’s schools on roll is looked at and that allows for projections to be made, going forward.

 

·         Live birth data is also looked at.  This information is provided by the NHS.

 

·         Close working with early years’ settings is undertaken to gain an understanding of the number of children in non-maintained settings.

 

·         The Children and Young People Department works closely with the Planning Department.  When the Local Development Plan (LDP) is agreed, an understanding is reached with regard to the number of houses that are likely to be built and using a formula, it is possible to calculate how many children are likely to be residing in those proposed dwellings.

 

·         School capacity is worked out on the area to be taught in. Using a simple calculation this will determine whether there are shortfalls or surplus places in particular areas.  Where there is a shortfall, developers are approached asking for contributions for Section 106 funding to increase the capacity of our schools in that area.  If there is no shortfall, then developers have no need to provide the Section 106 contribution.

 

·         In terms of secondary schools, the Authority looks over a five year average the number of children lost from a cohort and attending other schools.  This allows the Authority to plan suitable sizes into the future.

 

Having received the verbal update, the following points were noted:

 

·         There is an issue in the Abergavenny area surrounding Section 106 funding, in particular, the Gilwern and Llanfoist areas, whereby there remains significant surplus capacity in the Abergavenny area.  This has been a long standing issue for the Authority.  However, it is about the distribution of surplus places in the Abergavenny area that is the issue.  Therefore, the challenge is when a developer comes into the area wanting to build dwellings, this provides a pressure on the capacity of the local schools.  It is anticipated that it will take some time for these pressures to be addressed.

 

·         Monmouthshire’s School Admission Policy is based on the following criteria – medical needs, looked after children by the Authority, siblings, catchment area and then distance to school.  Parents can appeal following set guidelines with a view to getting their child into a particular school.

 

 

Committee’s Conclusion:

 

We noted the Chief Officer’s verbal update.

 

 

11.

Verbal update regarding Free School Meals availability

Minutes:

We received a verbal update by the Chief Officer for Children and Young People regarding free school meals (FSM) availability and how the Authority might increase the take up of FSM entitlement in Monmouthshire.

 

In doing so, the Select Committee was informed that the debate is around whether the Authority transfers the responsibility for FSM checking and entitlement to the Benefits Team.  This matter is being investigated closely and there would be a cost implication in the region of £15,000. Value for money is key if this change is to be made.

 

 

Committee’s Conclusion:

 

The Chief Officer for Children and Young People provides the Select Committee with an update report regarding the development of the proposed transfer of responsibility for FSM checking and entitlement to the Benefits Team.

 

 

12.

30 Hour Free Childcare Offer pdf icon PDF 292 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Context:

 

To scrutinise the 30 Hour Free Childcare Offer and the proposed timetable for implementation.

 

Key Issues:

 

·         The Welsh Government has committed to full implementation of the Childcare Offer by September 2020.

 

·         There are seven local authorities that have implemented the Childcare Offer in parts of their local authority from September 2017. These are Caerphilly, Blaenau Gwent and Swansea local authorities. Rhondda Cynon-Taff, Flintshire and Anglesey local authorities working in partnership with Gwynedd.

 

·         Budget permitting, the Welsh Government would like to see as many local authorities as possible joining the scheme over the next two years, prior to full implementation in September 2020.

 

·         The bid that was submitted by Monmouthshire in January 2018 was to become an early implementer in September 2018 and to rollout the Childcare Offer in all areas of Monmouthshire simultaneously. However, implementation could be delayed to commence in January 2019. Confirmation is awaited regarding this matter. Initial discussions with Welsh Government were positive and they were of the same opinion to bring the whole authority on board at the same time, based on the relatively low number of three and four year old children in Monmouthshire.

 

·         With regard to the delivery of finance for this scheme, Welsh Government has agreed that some authorities will be ‘delivery authorities’ and other authorities will be ‘engagement authorities’.  Monmouthshire County Council will be an engagement authority with Newport City Council being the delivery authority on Monmouthshire’s behalf.

 

·         The Childcare Offer is 30 hours a week of free early education and childcare for eligible working parents of three and four year old children, for up to 48 weeks of the year. The 30 hours will consist of a combination of the existing Foundation Phase Nursery (FPN) provision open to all three and four year old children and the additional funded childcare for eligible families.

 

·         Parents will become eligible the term following their child’s 3rd birthday until they commence full time education. In order to be eligible, both parents or the sole parent in a lone parent family, must earn at least equivalent to 16 hours a week at National Minimum Wage or National Living Wage, and no more than £100,000 per parent.

 

·         The childcare can be accessed in any setting that is registered with the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW). During term time, 10 hours are allocated for early education and this must be taken up at either a local authority maintained nursery or an approved non-maintained provider of early education.

 

·         There are currently 12 local authority maintained nurseries and 28 approved non-maintained providers of early education in Monmouthshire. Take up of places in the summer term is usually between 76% and 80% and there are currently surplus places in all areas of the county.

 

·         The Childcare Sufficiency Assessment completed in March 2017 suggested that there are sufficient childcare places to meet the current demand and highlighted any gaps in provision. Out of School Childcare Grant funding has been allocated to address these issues and to develop additional childcare provision.

 

Member Scrutiny:  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

Work Programmes:

13a

Adults Select Committee pdf icon PDF 218 KB

Minutes:

We received the Select Committee’s forward work plan.

 

In doing so, the Chair informed the Committee that clarity was required with regard to when the Crick Road Care Development - Final Business Case will be presented to Cabinet and whether a special meeting of the Select Committee might be required to scrutinise this issue before it is presented to Cabinet.

 

We noted the Adults Select Committee Work Plan.

13b

Children and Young People Select Committee pdf icon PDF 221 KB

Minutes:

We received the Select Committee’s forward work plan.

13c

Council and Cabinet Business Forward Work Programme pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Minutes:

We received the Cabinet and Council Forward Planner.

 

In doing so, the Committee agreed that:

 

(i)            the Children and Young People Select Committee should continue to monitor progress of the Donaldson Report in relation to Pioneer schools.

 

(ii)          The Adults Select Committee, at its meeting on 22nd May 2018, would invite representatives of Aneurin Bevan Health Board to discuss Chepstow Dementia Ward and a review of general services at Chepstow Hospital.

 

14.

Next meetings

Adults Select Committee – 22nd May 2018 at 10.00am.

Children and Young People Select Committee – 17th May 2018 at 10.00am.

Minutes:

The Children and Young People Select Committee will meet on Thursday 17th May 2018 at 10.00am.

 

The Adults Select Committee will meet on Tuesday 22nd May 2018 at 10.00am.