One of the most important things we do as councillors is to act as ‘corporate parents’ to children who are looked after by the council.

Very few referrals to children’s services in Monmouthshire result in children coming into care, and even where parents are unable to care for a child, most are looked after by members of the extended family or by foster carers. But for a few young people, a children’s home placement is the best thing, and I am delighted that the council has just approved our plans to develop new children’s homes in Monmouthshire.

Instead of paying for placements in homes out of the county, owned by private investors and run for profit, we will provide homes for small groups, employing local staff and keeping children’s links with their schools and their families. This is one of many ways in which the Welsh Government support is helping us to provide better services at a lower long-term cost. (Despite the views expressed by one Conservative councillor, we will not be publishing the addresses of these homes, to protect the privacy and safety of the children who will live there.)

On another matter, parents of pre-school children year olds have recently received their school allocations, and most will have a choice between faith schools, a Welsh medium primary or their catchment school. We have enough school places for every child. But these are not always in the parents’ first choice school, and I realise how upsetting this can be, particularly in more rural areas.

In my own ward more local families chose the highly-regarded Gilwern Primary School than there are places, so I am meeting with the school and with parents to see if anything can be done to help.

At the other end of the school age range, we are approaching the exam season, and I offer my best wishes to everyone taking exams this summer, and to their parents and teachers. I look forward to seeing successful results and to working for bright futures here in Monmouthshire.