Issue - meetings
Wales Audit Office Review of the Council's Whistleblowing Arrangements
That the report be noted.
The Internal Audit Manager introduced the results of the Wales Audit Office (WAO) review of the Council’s whistleblowing arrangements.
In presenting the report, Mr. Paul Goodlad of WAO explained that the basis of the review was not due to any concerns, but formed part of an Improvement Study across all 22 Councils in Wales to ensure that sufficiently robust arrangements were in place, following some high-profile whistleblowing cases in England. The conclusions of the review, as set out in the report, were that the Council’s policy was satisfactory and was applied appropriately on the few whistleblowing incidents which had occurred during the period. Whilst there were no recommendations or proposals for improvement, the report contained some suggestions to strengthen aspects of the policy which could be considered when the policy was next due for review by the Council.
Mr. Paul Williams noted that checks had not been carried out to determine whether schools had whistleblowing arrangements in place and raised concerns that this affected the Council’s ability to support and challenge schools’ governing bodies.
The Internal Audit Manager said that it was the responsibility of schools to adopt their own whistleblowing policy and gave assurance that this would be followed up. When asked by Councillor Alison Halford if there was any pressure on Head Teachers and Governors to produce a policy, he replied that this was not the case as the Council commended its own policy for use together with the good practice model policy produced by the Welsh Government for schools.
Mr. Goodlad advised the Committee that the key issue was for the Council to be assured that schools had adopted a policy.
Responding to further comments by Councillor Halford and Mr. Williams on the need to ensure that polices were adopted by schools, the Chief Officer (Governance) said that there was no formal mechanism. However, there were opportunities to persuade schools, for example by the Internal Audit Manager or his officers raising the matter with the Heads’ Federation and by using school governor contacts and primary liaison officers in Education & Youth. The Internal Audit Manager agreed to follow up with the Chief Officer for Education & Youth.
Mr. Williams felt that a more direct approach was required by producing an action plan and identifying which schools had not yet adopted a policy.
In relation to the confidentiality clause within the Council’s severance arrangements, Councillor Glyn Banks spoke of the need to encourage employees to disclose any concerns whilst in the employment of the Council wherever possible.
That the report be noted.