Agenda item

Self-Evaluation Report of Education Services


(a) That the report be noted; and


(b) That the positive thematic report undertaken by Estyn on the work of education services in Flintshire to support children and young people during the pandemic be noted.


            The Chief Officer (Education & Youth) presented the self-evaluation report and explained that, due to the pandemic, the information had not been structured in the usual way against the Estyn Framework for the inspection of Local Government Education Services which had been temporarily suspended together with the key data collections from Welsh Government (WG).  She referred to previous reports to meetings attended by GwE and Estyn colleagues with the Thematic Review of the Regional Services presented at the last meeting and attached to the report was the letter sent to Flintshire County Council from Estyn which summarised the positive assessment of the work undertaken in schools during this period.  She also provided information on the next steps and priorities within the Council Plan.


The Chair said that the format of the report was very useful in providing information on all service areas.  He invited questions on each of the service areas, as outlined in Appendix 1 of the report.


Inclusion and Progression Service


            The Chair referred to page 54 the last paragraph and asked as this was now an online offer with no theoretical limit why the training was not available to everyone.  In response the Chief Officer confirmed she would refer this to the Senior Manager (Inclusion and Progression) to provide a response. 


            Mrs Stark asked if provision had been considered for young person counselling and psychology services moving forward and were schools aware of pupils who may already require that support.  In response the Chief Officer confirmed that this had been identified by the Children’s Commissioner and that previously WG had provided additional funding for counselling services to support ALN services and that this would be a priority moving forward for them.  There was a strong holistic recovery programme working with Health and CAMMS colleagues and Children’s Services to enable a wraparound model to support these children and young people.  She added that additional funding had been provided last year to support young people’s emotional health and well-being.


Early Entitlement Service


            The Chair asked for an explanation on what was covered by the Coronavirus Childcare Assistance Scheme.  In response, the Chief Officer explained that during the pandemic WG had suspended the childcare offer and created the Coronavirus Childcare Assistance Scheme and that similar to schools who operated during the pandemic providing childcare for critical workers, WG provided funding for this service to provide the same support for critical workers.  This was managed by the Childcare team within Social Services.


            Mrs Stark asked if WG had anticipated the impact of the gap in education for young learners in their early years’ education and would this be taken into account when measuring their performance.   In response, the Chief Officer confirmed that this was being discussed and referred to the Foundation Phase Curriculum for 3 – 7 year olds which firstly looked at the child and their personal and social development and then provided support across different areas of learning.  She confirmed the early years was front and centre of the National Recovery Programme and that she was involved in discussions to shape that work moving forward.  


            The Leader confirmed that, as the WLGA Education Spokesperson, he was pressing the needs of the Foundation Phase as this age group were least able to access any form of online blended learning.  He had been pleased to see WG decide that the Foundation Phase should be the first to return to school and that the missed opportunities felt by those children was a priority for WG who had provided significant resources into the programme Recruit, Recover and Raise Standards which would enable all young children and people to receive that assistance when they returned to school. 


            Councillor Paul Cunningham commented that the speech and language aspect to this was important to these young children to be able to express themselves.   The Chief Officer said that not all children would be in deficit when it came to speech and language and that many children would have been supported by their parents during this time and benefited from that time as a family bubble.   The Leader added that parents and carers were owed a debt of gratitude for their support with their children’s education during this time and he looked forward to all children returning to school after Easter.


Integrated Youth Provision Service


            The Chair referred to page 71 of the report and the reference to the Dedicated Youth Worker working a day a week at 5 Secondary Schools and asked was this the limit of the demand or did resources prevent the other schools being involved.  In response, the Chief Officer confirmed it was a resource issue and that progress was being made working towards having a Youth Worker in every school but that this was reliant on the realignment and efficiencies of resources within the service.


Youth Justice Service and Flintshire Sorted


            The Chair asked if amendments to the Exclusion Policy and Substance Misuse Policy had been made and if the issue up for review was the first offence of being caught with drugs resulting in permanent exclusion.   In response, the Chief Officer explained the reasons for exclusion had been looked at with substance misuse and violent behaviour a part of that.  The policy had to be re-visited regularly to enable schools to be robust in how they managed these offences and that sometimes these young people were victims in situations beyond their control and that the Youth Justice Service needed a more prominent role in schools.


            Ms Wendy White asked if the zero tolerance regarding drug related offences in schools had also considered joint enterprise with people who were using or selling drugs.  The Chief Officer agreed to speak to Mrs White outside of the meeting to discuss this suggestion further.


School Planning & Provision Service


The Chair referred to the PRU and asked if there were plans to use or dispose of the redundant assets there.  In response, the Chief Officer confirmed these would be surplus from the portfolio and would then revert to the capital assets team.


The Chair commented that this was a substantial report and that the clear format was worth considering for future reports.


The recommendations, outlined within the report, were moved and seconded by Councillors Tudor Jones and Dave Mackie.




(a) That the report be noted; and


(b) That the positive thematic report undertaken by Estyn on the work of education services in Flintshire to support children and young people during the pandemic be noted.

Supporting documents: