Venue: Virtual Meeting
Contact: Neil Barnett Scrutiny Adviser
Declarations of Interest
1. 20/21 Service Plan End of year review for Education Services
The Deputy Chief Education Officer provided an overview of the report stating that due to the pandemic, performance measures related to pupil outcomes, exclusions and attendance had been suspended. Welsh Government had introduced new methods of awarding grades for learners at both Key Stage 4 and 5 and so comparison to previous years was not appropriate. Tracking post 16 learners destinations was challenged by the national restrictions in place due to the pandemic and the percentage of young people who were deemed to have an ‘unknown destination’ on leaving school was higher than in previous years. However, Newport data for young people in Education, Employment and Training above compulsory school age remained strong and among the best in Wales.
Despite the pandemic significant work had continued by schools and central education and most actions within the service plan had progressed. The Covid pandemic had a significant impact on schools illustrated by periods of full closure or solely offering distanced learning, and the large scale operation of blended learning to enable pupils to continue learning when they were self-isolating as either individuals or as cohorts within a school.
Members asked the following:
· Was the Service Area on target with its budget and if not, what mitigation methods were in place and what was the situation with certain individual schools?
The Deputy Chief Education officer confirmed that the Service was currently on target for this year. There had been a significant underspend last year of almost two million largely due to services such as transport, out of County placements, breakfast clubs etc. not being utilised over the past year. Those charges would be reinstated this year so the projection was for a balanced budget.
In relation to the situation with individual schools there were 4 schools which projected closing deficits but this was still a significant improvement. One of these was due to close and amalgamate with another school and the other three were Secondary schools which were being closely monitored and on track to reduce their levels of overspending, helped largely by the Covid situation. These would be closely monitored on a regular basis to ensure that their financial planning arrangements were robust with no chance of them slipping back into a deficit position.
· A member asked if through operating differently, schools had found methods of saving money and could any of these methods be used going forward?
The Assistant Head of Education explained that the Service was currently exploring Post 16 collaboration to see if elements of that could be delivered virtually. This meant that schools wouldn’t have to operate necessarily in the current cluster formations and could potentially offer curriculum across more than one local authority. A big part of the work done was working with lots of individual schools to look at their learning from the pandemic, seeing what had been effective, not just in terms of cost savings but in terms delivering the best curriculum in ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
a) Forward Work Programme Update (Appendix 1)
b) Actions Arising (Appendix 2)
c) Information Reports (Appendix 3)
. Forward Work Programme Update
- Neil Barnett – Scrutiny Adviser
The Scrutiny Adviser presented the Forward Work Programme, and informed the Committee of the topics due to be discussed at the next two committee meetings:
Tuesday 21st September 2021
Tuesday 2nd November 2021
- Children and Young People Services
- Adult and Community Services