Agenda item

Year End Service Performance Report

Report of Housing & Learning Overview & Scrutiny Facilitator.


(a)       That the report be noted; and


(b)       That the Committee’s comments and observations be fed back to the Corporate Resources Overview & Scrutiny Committee who are responsible for the overview and monitoring of improvement targets.



The Chief Officer (Education and Youth) introduced a report on the 2013/14 Year End Service Performance Report produced at the Head of Service/Divisional level under the adopted business model of the Council.  The report covered the period January – March 2014. 


The Chief Officer advised that detailed Year End Service Performance Reports were appended to the report for Schools Services, Development and Resources, and Culture and Leisure Services.  He commented on the retirement of the Head of Culture and Leisure Services and the forthcoming retirement of the Head of Development and Resources and paid tribute to both officers for their hard work and commitment to service improvement and for preparation of the Year End reports.  The Chairman reiterated the sentiments expressed by the Chief Officer and asked that the Committee’s thanks be passed on to the Officers for their work and best wishes for their future retirement.         


The Chief Officer gave a summary of the key information in relation to School Services and referred to improvement priorities and Service Plan monitoring, the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (WESP) progress report, Governor development, and the Authority’s support for Newly Qualified Teacher induction.  He commented on the NSI Improvement Target performance indicators and the positive progress achieved in the primary and secondary sectors.    


Councillor Nancy Matthews referred to the training package for foundation phase learners which had been organised to support schools on the effective use of the Pupil Deprivation Grant and focussed on the Sutton Trust strategies to improve learner outcomes, and asked whether teachers had the opportunity to access training through the Sutton Trust.  The Head of Inclusion Service responded and agreed to provide information to the Committee on the Sutton Trust document following the meeting.   


            Councillor Matthews also referred to the ‘Talk for Writing’ training event which focused on the strategies promoted by Pie Corbett, which was targeted at the primary sector and asked if this was the only strategy being focused.  The Head of Inclusion Service explained that this was the only one that training was being provided on at the current time. 


            During discussion members raised a number of concerns around the School Governor Development and Training Programme and referred to the quality of the training provided, time and venue for events.  Councillor  Amanda Bragg referred to the difficulties being experienced by some Governors who were unable to attend training due to limited places on the event  provided.  She suggested that Governors who requested training but were not able to attend due to the training session being full, be placed on a reserve list and notified if a vacancy on the training session became available.  The Chief Officer agreed to put the suggestion forward to the School Governance Manager.


Councillor David Mackie asked for information on the number of governors across Flintshire who had attended training sessions.  The Chief Officer agreed to circulate the information following the meeting.


            The Chief Officer acknowledged the concerns raised by members around delivery of the School Governor Development Programme and specifically the points concerning the data protection training.  He  advised that all courses were evaluated and agreed to provide feedback to the School Governance Manager.  The Chief Officer advised that the School Governor Development Programme was organised jointly with neighbouring  authorities in North East Wales and  agreed to circulate information to members following the meeting around provision and participation in the programme. 


            Members raised further concerns around the introduction of mandatory training for governors in their role and the warning that Governors could be suspended from a Governing Body if they did not attend the relevant training.  A number of members expressed the view that this approach was a deterrent to the recruitment and retention of volunteers to the position.     The Chief Officer emphasised the importance of governors availing themselves of the training development opportunities provided and the need to understand why the knowledge and information gained had a positive impact on school development.   


            Following the issues and observations raised by members the   Chairman suggested that a report on School Governors be submitted to a future meeting of the Committee to include information about Parent Governor elections.  It was also suggested that the School Governance Manager attend the meeting when the report was presented to answer any questions raised.  This was agreed by the Committee.  During further discussion it was agreed that the Chief Officer would produce a report on federation governance following the Hill Review and that the meeting would be governance themed.


            The Chief Officer referred to the Year End Service performance report for the  Development and Resource Service and summarised the main points for consideration.  He commented on the outcome of a staffing review of the Youth Support Services and Facilities Services.  The Chief Officer advised that a response was still awaited from the Welsh Government (WG) to the Statutory Notices  issued last Summer and that Councillor Aaron Shotton, Leader of the Council, had written to the WG to outline the Authority’s concerns.  The Chief Officer provided a verbal update on progress in relation to the Shotton Primary school project and advised that completion was scheduled for the end of the Summer holidays and that the new Well House Primary School would open in September 2014.


            Councillor Nigel Steele Mortimer asked for an update on the backlog of school maintenance and repair works.  The Chief Officer advised that there had been a reduction in the repair and maintenance backlog due to the replacement of some old buildings by new, however, increases in repair and maintenance works would arise as buildings continued to age and deteriorate.  Members were informed that the repair and maintenance budget had reduced by 10% in accordance with Council policy.  The Chief Officer agreed to distribute the latest analysis to the Committee following the meeting.   The Facilitator advised that the Corporate Resources Overview & Scrutiny Committee had requested that the Lifelong Learning Overview & Scrutiny Committee look at the reduction of the schools maintenance backlog.  She said this would be included on the Committee’s Forward Work Programme.   


In response to a question from Councillor Matthews around Welsh medium provision, the Chief Officer advised that progress in delivering additional Welsh medium provision in the Deeside area was on track and a satellite unit would open in Shotton Infants School in September 2014.    


            The Chief Officer reported on the Year end Service performance report for Culture and Leisure and drew attention to the key information around Living Well and active and healthier lifestyles.      


            During discussion the Chief Officer responded to the queries and comments raised by members concerning the Universal Class online learning opportunity, provision for public swimming and opening hours in Leisure Centres.  



(a)       That the report be noted; and


(b)       That the Committee’s comments and observations be fed back to the Corporate Resources Overview & Scrutiny Committee who are responsible for the overview and monitoring of improvement targets.


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