Agenda and minutes

Performance Scrutiny Committee - People - Tuesday, 28th November, 2023 10.00 am

Venue: Hybrid Meeting

Contact: Samantha Schanzer  Scrutiny Adviser

No. Item




Cllr P Bright



Declarations of Interest




Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 107 KB


The minutes of meeting held on 26th September 2023 were accepted as a true and accurate record.



2023/24 Service Plan Mid-Year Report - Education Services pdf icon PDF 146 KB

Additional documents:



-        Sarah Morgan – Chief Education Officer

-        Deborah Weston – Assistant Head of Education – Resources

-        Katy Rees - Assistant Head of Education - Inclusion

-        Councillor Deborah Davies – Cabinet Member for Education and Early Years


The Cabinet Member for Education and Early Years presented the report to the Committee.

·       The Committee asked for the proposed demolition date of Millbrook Primary School. The Assistant Head of Education – Resources informed Committee that the proposal needed to undergo the necessary planning approval and the estimated demolition date was June/July 2024. They assured Committee that additional security measures had been arranged in the interim including CCTV, fencing and guards. The Committee asked for the estimated completion date for the replacement school. The Chief Education Officer (CEO) informed Committee that the earliest possible completion date would be January 2026 but could not confirm an exact date at this time. The Committee asked to be kept updated regarding Millbrook Primary School.

·       The Committee queried what the 1.2% of Education employees actively learning Welsh equated to numerically. The CEO agreed to provide this information and highlighted that GEMS and Gwent Music employees were included in this. They assured Committee that the same level of support and investment was given to all employees. The Committee asked whether teachers were included in the figure. The CEO stated they were not.


·       The Committee asked what the measurable outcome of progress by March 2024 would be in increasing the uptake of Education employees that can speak Welsh. The CEO informed Committee that this would be the increased use of incidental/conversational Welsh. They agreed to provide more information to the Committee.


·       The Committee asked whether a link had been identified between poverty, school absence and attainment. The CEO stated that research confirmed the link between attainment and poverty. They informed Committee that they operate practices including the Raising the Attainment of Disadvantaged Youngsters (RADY) approach which had been successful in improving attainment. They explained that there was a link between school absence and poverty, but absence could be seen in all types of families. They explained that the focus was on the progress of learners and looking at all young people’s attendance to identify patterns and put support in place where necessary and beneficial.


·       The Committee highlighted the use of Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN) to deter school absences and raised concern about the potential impact these could have on disadvantaged families. The CEO assured Committee that work was carried out with schools to explore multiple measures including attendance cluster policies to manage attendance expectations for families, analysing school’s data and absence codes to identify patterns, using preventative measures and offering support to families. They assured Committee that FPNs were issued as a last resort and were preceded by many measures and warnings. They agreed that while it was uncomfortable, there was an obligation to ensure children attend school and there was evidence that FPNs are effective in influencing attendance improvement. The Committee asked how many FPNs  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Conclusions of Committee Reports

Following the completion of the Committee reports, the Committee will be asked to formalise its conclusions, recommendations and comments on previous items for actioning.


·       The Committee congratulated Officers for their work and the successes within the report.

·       The Committee welcomed the universal rollout of free school meals to all primary schools and acknowledged the positive impact of changing the terminology from "Free School Meals" to "Universal Free School Meals”.


·       The Committee requested the figure for the 1.2% of Education employees actively engaged in learning Welsh.


·       The Committee requested information on how many Fixed Penalty Notices had been issued and evidence of Fixed Penalty Notices’ effectiveness.

·       The Committee requested to be updated on the figures related to school non-attendance.

·       The Committee requested an update on the demolition of Millbrook Primary School closer to the time of demolition.

·       The Committee requested further information on Welsh Language in schools and the work being done to encourage Welsh Language in English medium schools.



Scrutiny Adviser Reports pdf icon PDF 140 KB

a)      Actions Arising (Appendix 1)

b)      Forward Work Programme Update (Appendix 2)



Additional documents:


a.     Actions Arising (Appendix 1)

The Scrutiny Advisor noted no change in the Actions Sheet.

b.    Forward Work Programme Update (Appendix 2)

The Scrutiny Advisor noted no change in the Forward Work Programme at this time.

The Scrutiny Advisor noted that the date of the next meeting was the 12th December 2023.




Live Event