Venue: Virtual Meeting
Contact: Ann Holmes
The Chair welcomed all those present to this virtual meeting of the Corporate Scrutiny Committee and extended a particular welcome to Mr Robat Idris Davies who was present to make representations on behalf of the parents of pupils at Ysgol Talwrn and also the wider community of Ysgol Talwrn. Members and Officers were asked to introduce themselves and the Chair set out the process he intended to follow with regard to the business under item 2 on the agenda and he explained that the recommendation made by the Scrutiny Committee at today’s meeting would be considered by the Executive at its meeting on 17 December, 2020.
Declaration of Interest
To receive any declaration of interest by any Member or Officer in respect of any item of business.
Declarations of interest were made as follows –
Councillor Nicola Roberts declared a personal but not prejudicial interest with regard to item 2 on the agenda as a member of the governing bodies of Ysgol Y Graig and Ysgol Talwrn.
Mr Marc Jones, Director of Function (Resources)/Section 151 Officer declared a personal but not prejudicial interest in item 2 on the agenda on the basis of his father in law being Chair of the Governing Body of Ysgol Talwrn.
To present the report of the Director of Education, Skills and Young People.
The report of the Director of Education, Skills and Young People with regard to the schools’ modernisation programme in relation to the Llangefni area was presented for the Committee’s consideration. The report set out the responses to the statutory consultation held in February/March 2020 on Ysgol Talwrn and Ysgol Y Graig and sought the Committee’s views on the recommendation that in light of all the consultation responses and impact assessments the most appropriate way forward is to proceed with the original proposal namely to increase the capacity of Ysgol Y Graig to accommodate pupils from Ysgol Talwrn, close Ysgol Talwrn and review the catchment areas of Ysgol Y Graig and Ysgol Talwrn.
The Portfolio Member for Education, Libraries, Culture and Youth introduced the report with general remarks about the Schools’ Modernisation Programme which in this case involves weighing and assessing the future of Ysgol Talwrn and Ysgol Y Graig and the consequent impact on all the stakeholders, and in particular the children at the two schools. He emphasised that the interests of the children should be uppermost in all participants’ considerations. Modernising schools can be a contentious issue and is among the most challenging aspects of the Council’s work; parents’ concerns on this matter are understandable and appreciated. The schools modernisation programme sets the groundwork for the future of schools over the next 50 years at a time when they are under pressure from budgetary cuts, burdensome maintenance costs and meeting the requirements of the New Curriculum to which can now be added the impact of Covid. The Council is duty bound to consider how the school system can be made more effective in the sense of creating the conditions under which teachers and pupils can flourish and also how it can be made more efficient in terms of making the best use of resources and ensuring that all schools receive their fair share of the budget. The Portfolio Member referred to the Authority’s strategies which are linked to the Schools’ Modernisation Programme as set out in section 2 of the introductory report. He reported that between 6 February and 20 March, 2020 Council officials undertook a statutory consultation on the future of the two schools in question. Officials were authorised to carry out the consultation after the Corporate Scrutiny Committee and the Executive considered the proposal paper in January, 2020.The consultation closed on the last day of school before the first lockdown period as a result of the global pandemic that transformed education provision for a time. He highlighted that the Council had received a letter from the School Organisation and Admissions Branch of Welsh Government confirming that Welsh Government Ministers were giving the Council an extension until March, 2021 to publish any proposal. The Council has operated in accordance with the Schools Organisation Code 2018 throughout the pandemic period.
The key drivers for change as set out in the Schools Modernisation Strategy 2018 include improving educational standards; improving leadership and management; ensuring that school buildings ... view the full minutes text for item 2.