Venue: remotely via Skype for Business
Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of personal and prejudicial interest (if any) from Members/Officers in accordance with the provisions of the Members Code of Conduct adopted by Council from 1 September 2008 (including whipping declarations)
Councillor J Gebbie declared a personal interest in agenda Item 4, as she wasChair of Mynydd Cynfig.
To receive for approval the minutes of the meeting of 19/10/2020
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of a meeting of Subject Overview and Scrutiny Committee 1 dated 19 October 2020 be approved as a true and accurate record.
Verbal Update from the Corporate Director - Education and Family Support
Lindsay Harvey - Corporate Director - Education and Family Support
Cllr Charles Smith – Cabinet Member Education and Regeneration
Nicola Echanis - Head of Education and Family Support
The Corporate Director - Education and Family Support gave an update on the current situation before moving on to the main themes of childcare hubs and blended learning, schools as Covid-safe environments, and the main challenges still being faced. Following the ministerial announcement made on 18 March to close schools, there was a requirement for all local authorities to provide emergency childcare for children of key workers from 23 March. A frenetic period followed to open the childcare hubs in Bridgend. Over 4,000 staff (school based and central support) were mobilised within 72 hours to provide wide-ranging support to around 23,000 children and young people. This was very challenging because the situation was new. Several immediate key challenges included adherence to rapidly emerging Health and Safety requirements, remote provision of free school meals to around 5,000 children, the maintenance of childcare facilities for children of keyworkers, the recommencement of teaching and learning for all learners, and the continuation of vital safeguarding support to vulnerable children and young people.
The Corporate Director - Education and Family Support was very proud of Bridgend’s achievements in emergency childcare provision. From 23 March to 19 June, emergency childcare was provided on an 8am to 6pm, 7-day per week, basis that supported over 900 children in its eight school-based hubs and four Flying Start settings. Emergency childcare support was available to all vulnerable children and to children who had at least one parent/carer identified as a ‘key worker’.
The Corporate Director - Education and Family Support explained that the new situation posed by Covid-19 was particularly difficult for staff, and Bridgend wanted to ensure that staff were benefiting from professional support. In April 2020, three professional groups were established (Staff Wellbeing, Supporting Vulnerable Learners and Remote Teaching and Learning) to support the work of schools and childcare hubs. These continued to meet to disseminate good practice to staff, and the Directorate had received several compliments on the services provided. All staff benefited from specialist HR, Health & Safety and strategic support. The Corporate Director - Education and Family Support was grateful to the Cabinet Member - Education and Regeneration for joining him at twice-weekly video conferences that continued to be held with Headteachers, the Central South Consortium improvement partners and Officers to ensure effective communication and consistency in approach. All groups benefited from expert school representation and multiagency support.
Stakeholder engagement involved twice-weekly meetings with all Headteachers (initially held on a daily basis), learner voice feedback via Bridgend Youth Council and school councils, an online survey for parents/carers, ongoing dialogue with external delivery partners (e.g. Welsh Government (WG), Estyn, Central South Consortium and Trade Unions), engagement with Elected Members, and a consistent Bridgend approach governed by senior leadership and Cabinet Member oversight.
The six key issues for the Directorate were social distancing, transport, catering, cleaning, hygiene and safety. Social distancing required the need to ensure that the childcare hubs and schools were safe environments. Risk assessments were organic and changed frequently. The Corporate Director - Education ... view the full minutes text for item 15.
The Scrutiny Officer presented the report. She advised that Members would recall that the Council had been advised that the Local Government Financial Settlement from WG would be later than expected, and therefore the scrutiny of the Medium Term Financial Strategy would be considered by Scrutiny Committees after Cabinet considered the draft proposals on 19th January, instead of the December cycle of meetings, as originally planned.
As set out in the table in paragraph 4.1 of the report, and following approval at November Council the dates for Scrutiny meetings had been moved to:
20 Jan at 10am – Draft MTFS for Education & Family Support and Communities Directorate.
21st Jan at 10am – Draft MTFS for Social Services and Wellbeing and the Chief Executive’s Directorate.
In paragraph 4.5, the Committee was reminded of the Criteria form, which Members could use to propose further items for the FWP, which the Committee could then consider for prioritisation at a future meeting. The Criteria Form emphasised the need to consider issues such as impact, risk, performance, budget and community perception when identifying topics for investigation and to ensure a strategic responsibility for Scrutiny and maximizes the opportunity for impact.
Members identified the following items for consideration on the Forward Work Programme: Blended / hybrid / remote learning including safeguarding (welfare and wellbeing).
There were no further items identified for consideration on the Forward Work Programme for the remainder of the municipal calendar of meetings.
RESOLVED: That the Committee note the next item for the
Committee’s Forward Work Programme set out in
Paragraph 4.1 of the report.
To consider any item(s) of business in respect of which notice has been given in
accordance with Part 4 (paragraph 4) of the Council Procedure Rules and which the person presiding at the meeting is of the opinion should by reason of special circumstances be transacted at the meeting as a matter of urgency.