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Minutes of the Sport Wales Board Meeting of 17 September 2021 held at the Sport Wales National Centre

Present: Lawrence Conway (Chair), Pippa Britton (Vice Chair), Ian Bancroft, Rajma Begum, Dafydd Trystan Davies, Delyth Evans, Nicola Mead-Batten, Phil Tilley, Alison Thorne, Martin Veale, Ashok Ahir (Items 1-5.2 and 7.1-10), Hannah Murphy (Items 1-5.3)

Staff: Sarah Powell (CEO), Brian Davies, Graham Williams, Emma Wilkins, Liam Hull, Rhian Evens (Item 5.1), Owen Hathway (Item 5.2), James Owens (Item 5.3), Owen Lewis (item 5.4), Amanda Thompson (minutes)

External: Paul Kindred (Welsh Government), Sian Dorward & Janine Dube (Step To Non Exec)

1.    Welcome/apologies for absence

The Chair welcomed all to the meeting. Apologies for absence were received from Professor Leigh Robinson, Judi Rhys, Neil Welch (Welsh Government) and Nicola Guy (Welsh Government). He welcomed Sian Dorward and Janine Dube from Chwarae Teg’s Step to Non Exec programme.

The Chair congratulated Ashok Ahir on his appointment as Interim President of the National Library of Wales.  He thanked Sarah Powell for her years of dedicated service to Sport Wales and wished her well for her move to British Gymnastics.

2.    Declaration of Interests

No new declarations were made. Phil Tilley was not present for Item 7.2

3.    Minutes of the last meeting dated 7 July 2021

There was a correction to Item 4.3 as 29 Welsh athletes had been selected for Team GB. The minutes were then accepted as a true and accurate record.

Matters Arising: Item 4.4 Transgender Inclusion in Sport: Guidance published on 30 September.

4.    Chair & Executive Report – SW(21)41

The CEO highlighted:

·         £4m confirmed for the continuance of the Sport & Leisure Recovery funding which is due to be distributed through the Be Active Wales Fund (BAWF).

·         Work with the Centre for Digital Public Services (CDPS) has continued at pace over the last two months exploring methods of funding application and distribution. Additional skills and learning were brought in through the Alpha programme.

·         The Director of Sport Systems and Vice Chair had attended the Team GB and Paralympic GB Homecoming events in London respectively. The Senedd also hosted an event for the Welsh athletes, supported by Sport Wales.

·         Various meetings with WSA had resulted in informal reflection and learning but it had not been thought necessary at this juncture to have Board representative meetings.

·         There was discussion around the potential risk of the public losing interest in medal achievements, ironically because of the recent degree of success, and discussion on how best to capture, celebrate and use sporting heritage and archives.

5.    Policy and Strategy

5.1        Business Plan 2021/22 Q2 – SW(21)42

This report updated the Board on the second quarter of activity this year and outlined future actions developed from that work, highlighting:

·         Building EDI networks and tackling barriers to participation.

·         Transforming the way sport and physical activity is delivered at a regional level.

·         A focus on the resilience of the sector and building the public’s confidence and awareness.

Members welcomed the detail and format, noted the report and agreed to ask any subsequent questions of staff independently.

5.2        Business Plan Priorities Review – SW(21)43

The priority areas remained largely consistent with the Board’s original business plan sign off, with the revisions recognising the evolution of the understanding in these areas of work. 

The narrative had been updated around the priority areas for:

·         EDI networks and barriers to participation

·         Cultural development and staff wellbeing

·         Future management of Plas Menai

·         Digitalisation in collaboration with CDPS

·         Resilience of the sector in the post-pandemic period including measures to support leadership, align Institute services and embed the investment strategy.

·         Active Education and the positioning of sport and physical activity within the curriculum.

·         Improving community sport delivery through the Sport Partnerships programme.

This item was moved to ‘business as usual’ rather than a specific priority area:

·         Future insight to be broader in its scope than the immediate impact of Covid19 and to respond to the insight gained from community level funding streams.

A new priority area was added:

·         To maximise the opportunities that the UK based Commonwealth Games in Birmingham 2022 presents to both Sport Wales and sport in Wales.

Discussion points:

·         Welsh Government officials had seen this report and had no queries or issues to raise. The priorities aligned with the Programme for Government and respective policies.

·         Com Res surveys did not include breakdowns for all characteristics and Sport Wales would use the National Survey for Wales and School Sports Survey for extensive insight.

·         The digitalisation programme is not moving quickly enough and is under resourced.

·         Covid19 impact should continue to be given attention and not passed over too quickly.

·         The opportunities presented by Birmingham 2022 include green initiatives and giving inspiration and encouragement to new audiences on an integrated basis.

The amended priorities were approved with a note that the Leadership team would fine tune the document after reflecting on the feedback given.

5.3        Active Education – SW(21)44

This report looked back over actions taken, key observations and learning, and proposed the key actions or considerations going forward to support the implementation of the new curriculum and progress the community-focused schools initiative. Future work would be:

·         Linking with 21C schools programme to work on capital priorities

·         Discussions with the Welsh Government on reimagining the school day

·         Ongoing development with consortia and curriculum leads with the Health and Wellbeing AoLE.

Discussion points:

·         The wellbeing of pupils and getting everyone back to school safely has been the priority. Due to pressure caused by Covid19 many school staff were feeling fatigued and they asked not to be given any additional work early in September.

·         Using physical activity to improve physical and mental health was the area of work where Sport Wales and the sports sector could influence the future generation the most. 

·         There is concern when hearing that some schools still report a lack confidence to deliver PE and sport, however, the resources Sport Wales has provided have been overwhelmingly appreciated and have made a positive impact.

·         The Welsh Government’s strategic stakeholder group has not been formed yet. Welsh Government’s Sport officials had offered to support internally where possible.

·         Schools’ resistance to delivering physical activity because of Covid19 restrictions was understandable but this must not continue over the next year or more.

·         The Forest School holistic approach was very successful. Sport Wales should consider instigating a programme like this for primary schools and leading on this area of work.

·         Sport Wales should include influencing the teacher training curriculum as well.

·         A focus on inclusivity should be central to the work with schools. Why children were excluded and what barriers were faced may be a topic for the Youth Panel to explore.

·         Sport Wales had been trying to influence ‘by stealth’ but ultimately it was the responsibility of the Consortia to deliver. There needs to be firm direction in this area from the top level of Ministers and Commissioners.

·         The role of Sport Wales was discussed and confirmed as being an effective influencer by:

o    Actively supporting with the resources Sport Wales has;

o    Providing insight, data and learning;

o    Innovative thinking.

5.4        Institute Overview – SW(21)45

This report gave an update on the Institute’s work since the presentation given to the Board in February. Over the past cycle there had been successful delivery at the Olympic, Paralympic and Commonwealth Games with a holistic approach to ‘how we win’ as well as ‘what we win’. This was mostly achieved by providing individualised support to athletes. However, the Institute had been less adept at supporting and improving inclusive athlete development at scale, which was symptomatic of a wider sector need to prioritise this area of work.

The next step would be to support a sector wide shift of focus to inclusive athlete development, making it more visible and a better understood priority. Bespoke individual athlete support would be given only to athletes on UK Sport’s World Class programme. This would allow the Institute to focus its resources on inclusive athlete development, necessitating a change of thinking from partners who had traditionally accessed individual athlete support for a lower level of performance. In the run up to Birmingham 2022 the Institute would work with partners to ensure non-WCP athletes with access to individualised support as part of their preparations to date would be supported up to the Games.

Members endorsed their support of the approach as detailed in the paper.

5.5        Programme of Government submission and Remit Letter – SW(21)46

As requested by the Welsh Government, Sport Wales had submitted a longer-term funding proposal using a new cross-government prescriptive template based on the newly published Programme of Government (PfG). Initial headline figures and areas of focus for both capital and revenue for 4-year and 3-year periods respectively were requested. Officials advised putting in for flatline budgeting whilst also listing any areas for potential growth.  This work was scrutinised by the Critical Governance Group which met on 26 July.

In terms of revenue, a modest approach was taken with the aim to gradually increase investment in priority areas rather than establishing any new areas of work. However, in relation to capital, a substantial request was submitted based on the evidence provided by recent 4Global research. This has since been adjusted as explained in the report and shown on appendices.

Discussions would continue with officials given that the submission crossed several Ministerial portfolios. Ministerial consideration would be given shortly.  Members noted the report.

6.    Youth Panel

6.1        Youth Panel report

The newly formed Youth Panel had appointed a Chair. The group last met on 31 August and discussed Education related matters and the Young Ambassadors programme.  They asked the Board to refer matters to them for their input.  The Board asked the Youth Panel to put forward solutions to the challenges they had identified in their report as that was the type of insight Sport Wales could act upon, and also to identify any opportunities they would like to have.  

7.    Board Groups & Standing Committees

7.1        Summary of Sub-Group Meetings – SW(21)47

Members noted the report. Minutes of the various meetings could be accessed quickly by using the Decision Tracker.

7.2        Sport Wales National Facilities Review Group (FRG) – SW(21)48

Since the Board’s last meeting a significant amount of work had been undertaken by FRG with input from other Board members.  Their work centred on developing the procurement approach, communications and staff engagement. The next phase of the work would be the Tender Stage which would commence in early October. A presentation was given to show the intel reviewed and decisions taken by FRG to shape the suggested approach to procurement.

It was noted that Plas Menai was owned by the Sport Wales Trust. The Board as a collective was the sole trustee of the Trust. Cooke & Arkwright would provide evidence to demonstrate the Board were acting in the best interest of the Trust. The Chair and CEO would discuss the approach shortly with the Deputy Minister for Culture & Sport.

The Board approved the procurement approach for the future operating model at Plas Menai. There was no decision taken on date to commence the procurement exercise and this would be further considered following the meeting with the Deputy Minister.  It was agreed to convene a special meeting of the Critical Governance Group following the Ministerial meeting.

8.    Finance, Risk & Assurance

8.1        Finance report April-August 2021 – SW(21)49

The report provided a summary of the financial position of Sport Wales for the five months ending 31 August 2021. Figures were based on draft internal management accounts and excluded adjustments for statutory reporting requirements.

·         The Welsh Government allocated a further £2m to Capital funds which now totalled £7m.

·         The Welsh Government gave £4m to continue Be Active Wales Fund’s Progress strand.

·         Sport Wales’ contribution to the Healthy & Active Fund was adjusted, as described.

·         The furlough scheme has been utilised as shown, coming to an end in September.

·         National Lottery ticket sales continue to be strong.

Members noted the report.

8.2        Corporate Risk Register update – SW(21)50

RAMG last met on 15 September and made the following changes to the Corporate Risk Register.

·         Merge the two risks regarding significant disruption to operations due to Covid19 and staff productivity being affected by low morale and wellbeing to the following: Progress of the Vision and Strategy inhibited by a lack of engagement and productivity as the organisation continues to adapt to hybrid working.

·         Archive the risk of organisational redesign inhibiting progress of the Sport Wales Strategy as the resign has been completed and the challenges now faced are reflected in the risk as shown above.

·         Archive the risk of failure to implement the new resourcing strategy restricting implementation of the Sport Wales Strategy as the investment model has now been implemented. This risk would remain live at departmental risk level.

·         Add a new risk of failure to find a commissioned partner for operating Plas Menai inhibiting progress of the Strategy, and current operations could be affected by low staff morale and wellbeing while the project is ongoing.

There was concern about moving on from the immediate risks that Covid19 had brought, but it was felt appropriate to reword risks to reflect organisational resilience against the longer-term impacts of the pandemic. The Audit & Risk Assurance Committee would meet next on 1 October and would discuss the questions raised. Members noted the report.

9.    Any Other Business

Further details would follow regarding the forthcoming Board’s awayday.

10.Date of next meetings

25 November 2021

17 February, 13 May, 15 July, 16 September, 25 November 2022

The minutes were approved at the Sport Wales Board’s meeting on 25 November 2021.