Concerns remain over running of school breakfast clubs in Wrexham

Wrexham

AUDITORS have raised outstanding concerns over the running of school breakfast clubs in Wrexham.

An internal audit report was first published by Wrexham Council in November 2020, which uncovered a number of issues with the management of before-school clubs.

It highlighted that some new catering staff had started their jobs without Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks being completed.

A lack of health and safety risk assessments for locations where breakfast clubs are held was also identified, as well as a need to ensure workers receive first aid training.

Auditors said it meant there were “gaps in the process” which left the breakfast club service open to risk.

They made several recommendations, including to ensure staff have undergone pre-employment checks and for regular risk assessments to be carried out.

However, a follow-up audit report due to be discussed this week shows while some steps have been taken to address the issues, further improvements are required.

In their report, the auditors said: “The overall audit objective was to examine whether the two high priority recommendations from the original audit of this service have been implemented effectively.

“Progress has been made to implement both recommendations. However further work is needed to improve the controls.

“Roles and responsibilities for providing free breakfasts should be formally agreed with schools as soon as possible.

“The Welsh Government’s full health and safety risk assessment template should be completed annually for each setting where free breakfasts are provided.”

They added: “Once Covid-19 restrictions have eased first aid training and refresher training should be arranged for those breakfast club staff that require it.

“In the interim, the catering service should seek assurance from the school that there are trained first aid staff employed by the school on site to assist should there be a medical emergency in the breakfast club setting.”

The follow-up audit was given a red/amber level of assurance, which means control measures are in place but with some gaps in process.

One of the main priorities highlighted is for responsibilities for providing free breakfasts to be formally agreed with schools as soon as possible.

Responding to the report, the council’s chief housing officer Julie Francis said service level agreements were sent out to schools last week ready to be signed by the end of the month.

The follow-up report will be discussed at a meeting of the local authority’s governance and audit committee on Thursday, February 24.

Liam Randall Local Democracy Reporter

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