Minutes of the

Corporate Governance Group

6th March 2014 at 10am

Democratic Services Committee Room, County Hall

Present:

Cllr Jeff Edmunds (JE)

Executive Board Member (Resources) Attended from 11:30

Cllr Pam Palmer (PP)

Executive Board Member (Community & Rural Affairs)

Chris Burns (CB)

Assistant Chief Executive

Chris Moore (CM)

Head of Financial Services

Linda Rees Jones (LRJ)

Head of Administration and Law

Phil Sexton (PS)

Head of Audit, Procurement & ICT

Hugh Thomas (HT)

Audit & Risk Manager

Cllr David Jenkins

Chair of Audit Committee (Observer)

David Richards (DR)

HR Projects Manager

   

Apologies:

Roger Jones (RJ)

Director of Resources

Paul Thomas (PT)

Assistant Chief Executive

Alison Wood (AW)

HR Manager

It was agreed that PS would act as Chair for the meeting and it was acknowledged that Cllr David Jenkins (Chair of Audit Committee) was attending in an Observer capacity.

Item No

Discussion / Action

Responsible Officer

1

The Minutes of the previous meeting on 26th November 2013 were agreed as being accurate.

The following issues were confirmed.

 

2

E MAIL USAGE AND MONITORING POLICY

PS stated that P&R Committee will be reviewing the current “Email Usage and Monitoring Policy” at its March meeting.

PS suggested that there is a need to strengthen Section 6 (Email Monitoring) and Section 7 (Monitoring Principles) to give greater clarity regarding the Protocols that should operate in situations where access may be required.

The Group agreed that Sections 6 and 7 would benefit from further clarification of Protocols that would operate in the event of access to Mailboxes being required in the future due to retirement, sickness absence or formal investigations (disciplinary / criminal). The Protocols need to specify who would be authorised to formally request access and what record would need to be maintained by the ICT Security Officer. The Group also asked Requests or Authorisation for “Email Tracking” be considered.

The Group requested that the Corporate Information Governance Group as sponsors of the Policy (see Section 9) review Sections 6 and 7 with a view to developing appropriate Protocols to cover potential situations where access to emails may be required or Tracking may be needed.

CB

PS

 

3

TO PROVIDE AN UPDATE ON THE REVIEW OF CORPORATE GOVERNANCE SUGGESTED BY THE LEADER

CB provided an update: Nothing had been formally agreed to date but CB understood that a meeting would be arranged shortly with the WLGA where a TOR would be discussed.

In terms of Governance issues there are issues relating to the Democratic Process to be reviewed including:

    Declarations of Interest

    Attendance of Officers with a potential interest in a Report

    Dealing with Urgent Items

    Dealing with Exempt Items

    Equality Impact Assessments

Whilst the Authority does have procedures in place the review of those procedures and potential strengthening of those procedures will be a key focus.

LRJ confirmed that there was ongoing work by the WLGA and Welsh Monitoring Officers on a Modular Constitution. This would allow Authorities to adopt, ignore or revise the Modular Constitution. There would be an online version, which would be circulated for consideration.

It was thought that the focus of the Review will be closely linked to the Democratic Services Committee.

CB advised the Group that WAO have programmed a Corporate Assessment Review of the Authority for 2014/15, including all aspect of Governance and the Democratic process.

 

4

ANNUAL GOVERNANCE STATEMENT 2011/12 - ACTION PLAN UPDATE

HT asked that Officers update the Action Plan with progress to date.

All members of the Group

5

ANNUAL GOVERNANCE STATEMENT 2012/13 - ACTION PLAN UPDATE

HT asked that Officers update the Action Plan with progress to date.

All members of the Group

6

TO CONSIDER CONTENT OF THE 2013/14 ANNUAL GOVERNANCE STATEMENT

PS reminded all members of the Group to carefully consider potential Governance issues relevant to their Service Area for inclusion in the 2013/14 Annual Governance Statement.

All members of the Group

7

AOB

SAFEGUARDING AND SAFE RECRUITMENT IN SCHOOLS

Whilst there has been some improvement overall, there are 5 Schools which continue to be a concern with regard to their application of safe recruitment practices. They have either proceeded to appoint or continue to engage teaching staff without evidence of satisfactory DBS Disclosures.

    The individual employees concerned have had more than the statutory period in which to dispute any DBS Disclosure they may have felt needed to be challenged or remedied. They should have presented their DBS Certificate to the Head Teacher or the Chair of the Governing Body in terms of the requirement to have a valid DBS Check as an existing employee or be appointed following a recruitment process.

    The Governing Body is accountable for ensuring that the school has effective policies and procedures in place in accordance with the Welsh Government’s guidance, and should monitor the school’s compliance with this. It is the Governing Body’s responsibility to ensure that safe recruitment checks are carried out in line with statutory requirements.

    If a School does not have effective policies and procedures for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of pupils, and does not take sufficient steps to ensure these are adhered to, this will influence judgements made about the quality of leadership and management in the school.

    ● Under the Education Act 2002 it is the Local Authority’s responsibility to monitor the compliance of maintained schools with this guidance, in particular with regard to the existence and operation of appropriate policies and procedures, and the training of staff, including the senior person with designated responsibility for child protection. It is to bring any deficiencies to the attention of the Governing Body of the school and advise upon the action needed to remedy them.

On this basis and with all other advisory routes now exhausted, it would be appropriate for the Director of Education & Children’s Services to advise the Chairs of each of the 5 Governing Bodies that they should now instruct their Governing Bodies and/or Head Teachers to seek immediate HR advice and take the following actions:

    1. Ensure that any such employee / individual is removed from Regulated Activity immediately pending the outcome of the Disclosure process and any decision regarding ongoing employment.

or

    2. To put in place measures that will ensure the employee / individual is supervised at all times by an individual already in Regulated Activity with the appropriate Disclosure and Barring checks in place pending the outcome of the Disclosure process and any decision regarding ongoing employment.

and

    3. To instigate an immediate self evaluation of the schools arrangements for safeguarding children under section 175 of the Education Act 2002. Any emerging issues may require a formal disciplinary investigation and possible referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service.

These matters have been referred to the Corporate Governance on the 6th March 2014 and a further updated is to be reported in 7 working days following consultation with the Director of Education.

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Update following the Meeting:

Please note the following has been sent by the Director of Education to all Schools dated 17th March 2014

Following the Corporate Governance meeting, further discussions have taken place with the Director of Education who has advised that those schools with outstanding safeguarding issues (DBS employment checks) will be written to and arrangements will now be made for him to discuss the issues with each Chair of the Governing Body and Head Teacher. In addition to this, consideration is being given to run a specific workshop/ briefing on these matters for each Governing Body.

 
 

Date of next meeting and future meetings:

6th May 2014 10am

9th September 2014 10am

25th November 2014 10am

12th February 2015 10am

1st May 2015 10am

7th September 2015 10am

24th November 2015 10am

All Meetings in the Democratic Services Committee Room, County Hall