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Declarations of Interests
The following Member made a declaration of interest at the commencement of the meeting:
The Committee noted the Minutes of the Leisure and Culture Sub Committee that was held on 23 January 2018, 15 February 2018, 24 April 2018 and 26 June 2018.
Report of the Head of Participation
(Members agreed to discuss Agenda Item 3 of the Education, Skills and Culture Scrutiny Committee, in line with Agenda Item 4 of the Education, Skills and Culture Cabinet Board)
Members were provided with an update on the Mapping of Current
Youth Service Provision and information on the (SHEP) Programme. Members were also updated on the Local Authority Youth Service.
Members asked what the criteria was for choosing the locations for the Community Based Youth Clubs within Neath Port Talbot. Officers explained that areas were chosen on population and what facilities are available. Officers added that liaisons take place with the Community Safety Partnership and the Police to ensure that areas of anti-social behaviour issues were considered. Members noted that due to the budget restraints the numbers of youth clubs had decreased.
Members queried whether in the event that a youth club had low attendance could the club be relocated to an area with more demand. Officers explained that a recent survey of young people had identified their preference for youth cafes, as a result a pilot was being undertaken in Bryn and Cwmavon Wards which had the highest attendance at youth clubs. Monitoring of the current provision would take place to ensure that youth clubs were utilised to their full potential, but due to the budget restraints there was no funding available to provide additional youth clubs.
Members highlighted that on page 26 of the report the table did not include any information on the number of staff in the youth clubs. Officers informed the Committee that the information would be circulated to them.
Members asked whether the Youth Clubs were managed by a Youth Leader. Officers confirmed that they were managed by qualified Youth Leaders
Members asked whether youth clubs took place during term time. Officers confirmed that youth clubs only took place during term time; however Officers did search for funding to provide youth clubs outside of term time.
Members highlighted additional activities that took place within the Aberavon Ward such as Kidzsport and Bulldogs Boxing Club. Members asked if there was an opportunity to arrange transport for youth clubs to be accessed by areas that did not have any provision. Discussion took place on the need for either a one day inquiry or a Member Task and Finish Group to look at Transport options. Officers explained that transport was provided previously but was very staff intensive so was not cost effective.
Members also queried whether other transport options could be considered, for example using school buses. It was also suggested whether there was an opportunity to use community transport. Officers agreed to investigate other options and bring a report back to Members for consideration at a future date.
Discussion took place on the opportunities that partners could offer in joint working by running a youth club by sharing staff resources.
Members asked whether grant funding from Welsh Government would continue. Officers explained that they were still awaiting confirmation. Welsh Government had indicated that ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
The Committee scrutinised the following matters:-
Cabinet Board Proposals
4.1 Childcare Facilities within Schools in Neath Port Talbot
Members were updated on the current situation with regard to childcare facilities located on school sites. Members were also provided with a list of childcare provisions currently occupying surplus space within schools throughout the County Borough within appendix A to the circulated report.
Member’s queried how many children attended the services provided at each school. Officers explained that the information wasn’t available as the information was not collected; however officers provided information on the number of children that were registered.
Members complimented officers on their hard work within the department.
Following scrutiny, the Committee was supportive of the proposal to be considered by the Cabinet Board.
4.2 Pupil Attendance
Members were provided with information and data in relation to Neath Port Talbot pupil attendance and persistent absenteeism.
Members asked whether there was any data on unauthorised absences relating to non-attendance due to holidays. Officers highlighted that this had been a theme for many years. It was noted that data did not exist on this as schools’ only recorded authorised and unauthorised holidays. It was highlighted that this had previously been reported to the Committee.
Members asked whether they could do anything to help increase attendance. Officers explained that schools were very firm and refused requests for holidays during term time. In addition, the Director of Education had sent a letter to every family in Neath Port Talbot, explaining the importance of attendance at school which had made a positive impact.
The Chair informed the committee that a letter had been received from a Member of Neath Port Talbot Council highlighting that the authority had the joint-second lowest attendance figures compared with other Welsh authorities. The Committee was asked to consider having information on the comparative figures, to see if there were problems in particular schools and or areas which could be addressed. It was noted that it would be appropriate to raise this concern under this item and to allow Members an opportunity if they wished to take this concern further.
Officers explained that there would be absenteeism in all schools due to illness and that the Authority was proactive in improving attendance. It was noted that Neath Port Talbot were ranked at 19th Place last year; however 15th place was less than a third of a single percentage point. It was highlighted to Members that data could be perceived in many different ways. Officers also explained that the authority was doing excellent in concentrating on persistent absentees. Following this information, Members felt that they did not want to take further action in relation to the concern raised regarding attendance at schools.
Members asked if there was a school closure and children were moved to a different school as a result, would this affect their attendance. Officers confirmed that school closures did not go against pupil attendance figures.
Members asked would a child’s attendance rate be affected if they were ... view the full minutes text for item 4.
Members asked for information on Staff Training prior to the inclusion of a report on the Forward Work Programme.