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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 12th September, 2011.

 

Present:  Councillor Mrs. K.A. Kemp (Chairman); Councillor Ms. V.L. Ellis (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Mrs. M.E.J. Birch, C.P.J. Elmore, J.F. Fraser,  E. Hacker, F.T. Johnson, C.L. Osborne and J.W. Thomas.

 

Co-opted Members:  Mr. P. Lewis (Parent Governor - Secondary Sector).

 

Non-voting Observers: Mr. G. Beaudette and Mr. T. Cox.

 

Also present: Councillor A.D. Hampton (Cabinet Member) and N.P. Hodges.

 

 

344     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillor Mrs. S.I. Sharpe; and Mr. P. Burke (Roman Catholic Church) and Mr. D. Treharne (Welsh Medium Education).

 

 

345     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 25th July, 2011 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

346     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

347     IMPROVEMENT PLAN 2011/12 (CX) -

 

The above document, which contained performance and improvement information for Directorates and Corporate Plan priorities, had been sent to Members prior to the meeting under separate cover.  The performance information provided a look back over 2010/11 and would be used by the Wales Audit Office to assess the Council’s ability to improve.  It was noted that whilst the Plan was substantially completed, further minor amendments would be required following last minute changes to performance information provided by the Local Government Data Unit and as a consequence of proof reading.  That information would be included prior to the publication of the Plan by 31st October. 

 

The Operational Manager (Corporate Policy and Communications) informed Members that the draft Plan had recently been updated to include information on the Welsh Averages.

 

Lengthy discussion took place on the contents of the Plan with specific issues being raised in regard to page 30 and matters relating to the number of cases of current exclusions (6 cases) and support arrangements to ensure that the pupils were accommodated in the appropriate school environment or appropriate arrangements were in place through the Education Welfare Team to support those individuals who refused to attend the Pupil Referral Unit.  Attention then turned to page 32 of the document, in particular the identification of the eight schools in the Vale of Glamorgan who had 25% of their places unfilled with the figure which had risen during the past year.  One school had been borderline in the previous academic year but had now fallen into the category due to the volatility of numbers.  Clarification was then sought in regard to the wording of performance indicator LCL001 – “the number of people using public library services during the year per 1,000 population”, with it being confirmed that that since the publication of the draft document this had been updated to reflect the correct indicator description.  In regard to page 35 in respect of the paragraph relating to participation in the Books for You scheme  and the responsibility for compilation of data associated with the inter – lending  of books throughout south east Wales. The Director clarified that the National Library of Wales was responsible for collating the data from each local authority.  In response to a query relating to Free School Meals (page 27) and as to why no target had been set for these actions the Operational Manager for Corporate Policy and Communications confirmed that in some instances targets had not been set and this was in the main due to changes to performance measure information, proposals to delete an indicator in the near future, or because setting targets in some circumstances would not be appropriate.  Reference was then made to page 20 and performance indicator reference and description OA32 - the percentage of schools using the School Effectiveness Profile (SEP) whereupon the Operational Manager for Corporate Policy and Communications confirmed that this indicator had been included as a consequence of the Outcome Agreement.  The Head of School Improvement touched upon the premise for this performance indicator which was to encourage headteachers as leaders to develop a shared leadership culture throughout their respective schools.  This would be achieved by encouraging headteachers to use Key Question 3 of the Common Inspection Framework which provided a mechanism for headteachers to undertake an assessment of their individual leadership skills and wider school leadership within each respective school environment.

 

In regard to Children and Young People’s Services, the Director indicated that the Childcare Sufficiency Audit would be submitted to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration in the near future.  Discussion ensued in regard to the progress made to date in delivering the Penarth Learning Community with the Director indicating that discussions with Cardiff and Newport County Councils were being progressed with issues regarding the scaling of pupil numbers at an advanced stage.  Options were available to both Councils to bring about cost benefits if they were to contribute towards the capital funding of the new facility at Ashgrove.  The Director indicated however that in the event of a collaborative approach not being able to be undertaken, the Council would proceed on current known scaling data which may potentially exclude future needs of these authorities. 

 

Discussion ensued in regard to page 33 (second paragraph) in particular, the likely impact on performance of the five cluster of schools who were participating in the WJEC run Key Stage 2 / 3 Pilot Moderations for core subjects.  The Head of School Improvement indicated that the pilot would drive improvements by providing a standardisation for overseeing the delivery of teacher assessments.  This was crucial for the delivery of consistency of application of standards throughout the five cluster groups.  In acknowledging that it was difficult to devise constructive targets where teacher assessments were prepared, particularly where teacher assessments were overly conservative or overly optimistic, she indicated that there was sufficient evidence available to the Education service that where teacher assessments had been conservative or optimistic the school’s Key Stage performance had been adversely affected with the needs of pupils not being met.  It was anticipated that the process of developing a standardisation across the five cluster groups of schools would ensure more consistency of target setting by providing an opportunity to compare and contrast within the five cluster groups by identifying and developing best practice which was moderated and verified by an external body.  It was noted that the Pilot was now completed and it was requested that the results / findings of the Pilot be subject to a further report to a future meeting of the Committee.  Mr. Cox, in referring to this pilot, indicated that these were being run across Wales and didn’t anticipate the results being made available in the near future.  In particular, he referred to teacher assessments as being unreliable given the nature of the target descriptions being too broad within the assessments.  Discussion ensued on a number of technical issues and benefits associated with teacher assessments.  Mr. Cox suggested in his opinion that the introduction of standardisation by the WJEC or “levelling” was a waste of time.  However, the Head of Service reminded Members that it was a requirement to articulate expectations for individual pupil (s) development via teacher assessments.

 

Having regard to the above and related issues and having considered the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the Improvement Plan for 2011/12 as currently drafted be endorsed and that Cabinet be advised that the Scrutiny Committee would be further considering those matters set out in the below recommendations. 

 

(2)       T H A T the Head of School Improvement submit a further report the next meeting of the Committee on those schools using the School Effectiveness Profile (SEP) who were using it as a mechanism to drive challenge and direction to the work of the schools to.

 

(3)       T H A T the findings of the Childcare Sufficiency Audit Action Plan be reported to a future meeting.

 

(4)       T H A T a further report be presented on those secondary schools who had successfully completed an external moderation and verification process as part of the five cluster schools participating in the WJEC run Key Stage 2 / 3 Pilot moderation for core subjects.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure that the actions are taken to improve services and to inform Cabinet of the Scrutiny Committees intentions.

 

(2-4)    To apprise the Committee of developments in the relevant areas.

 

 

348     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL 2011 TO 31ST JULY 2011 (DLD) -

 

The Revenue Budget and projected outturn for 2011/12 were shown at Appendix 1 to the report.  Overall the Education Budget was projected to balance at the end of March 2012.

 

The delegated budget relating to schools was also expected to balance and any under or over spend would be carried forward by schools. 

 

Education - Additional Learning Needs budget was projected to overspend in the sum of £72,000. 

 

Grant related expenditure details of which had not yet been confirmed and would be reported in subsequent monitoring reports. 

 

In regard to the Library Service, Lifelong Learning and Catering Service, all of the budgets were anticipated to outturn within budget with favourable variances of £10,000, £6,000 and £14,000 respectively. 

 

As for the Capital Programme for 2011/12 financial progress in respect of this was set out in Appendix 2 as at 31st July 2011.  It was noted that the capital project in respect of the demountable classroom at the Welsh Medium schools at Barry and Llantwit Major was running slightly ahead or well ahead of their expenditure profile and revised expenditure profiles would be submitted in due course to match the revised project plans. 

 

Appendix 3 provided non-financial information on capital schemes with a budget  over £100,000. 

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position with regard to the 2011/12 Revenue and Capital Monitoring be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To apprise Members of progress in the related area.

 

 

349     PRESENTATION - SCHOOL SUPPORT (DLD) -

           

The Committee received a presentation on current sport support arrangements for schools across the Vale of Glamorgan.  The content of the presentation specifically covered areas in relation to the following matters:

 

·                    what support was available to schools

·                    how do we know which school needs support

·                    evaluating standards and leadership

·                    how do we use this information in the Vale of Glamorgan and the use of a categorisation matrix

·                    what happens next

·                    degrees of concern and intervention

·                    evaluating leadership and

·                    issues / implication.

 

Following the presentation a question and answer session took place regarding specific schools’ performance with some of the issues raised earlier in the meeting relating to teacher assessments and leadership issues and correlation with performance issues reiterated. 

 

At this juncture specific reference was made to the recent Estyn inspection of Oakfield Primary School, Barry which had recently been ranked as “unsatisfactory” with the school now being placed under special measures to improve educational standards.  The Members requested that a specific report in relation to this school and Jenner Park Primary School, Barry be subject of a further report to the next meeting of the Committee. 

 

The Committee’s attention then turned to the categorisation matrix with the discussion encompassing various issues in relation to the types of data and information used to plot a school’s position within the matrix itself, the role of Link and Curriculum Advisors in this process, target setting and intervention arrangements to ensure that progress was evidenced and improvements demonstrated.  Members expressed the view that it would have been useful to have had comparative information regarding predictive positions and actual positions plotted within the categories matrix for the end of the academic year. 

 

Having regard to the above and related issues, it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the Head of School Improvement be thanked for her presentation.

 

(2)       T H A T a further report be submitted to the next meeting in relation to Oakfield and Jenner Park Primary Schools.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In acknowledgement of support provided to primary schools.

 

(2)       To allow the Committee to consider support arrangements following recent Estyn inspections of both schools.

 

 

350     SCHOOL PERFORMANCE DATA FOR KEY STAGES 1, 2 AND 3 (DLD) -

 

Statutory Teacher Assessments (TA) were administered at the end of Key Stages (KS) 1, 2 and 3 when pupils were aged 7, 11 and 14 years old respectively.  National minimum expectations for pupils at the end of KS1, 2 and 3 were levels 2, 4 and 5 respectively with more able pupils expected to achieve at level 3, 5 and 6 respectively.  The Committee noted the performance data for the more able pupils was not available until November 2011. 

 

The Committee gave consideration to a data table for Key Stage 1, 2 and 3 Performance (Appendix 1); School Performance for KS 1 graphical illustration (Appendix 2); School Performance KS2 graphical illustration (Appendix 3); School Performance for KS3 graphical illustration (Appendix 4) and Targets for KS1, 2 and 3 (Appendix 5).  It was noted that the Vale’s school performance at all Key Stages remained higher than the national averages.  In addition to the above, consideration was also given to tabled information which related to Key Stage 1 percentage of pupils achieving level 3 plus in Core subjects; Key Stage 2 percentage of pupils achieving level 5 plus in Core subjects; Key Stage 3 percentage of pupils achieving level 6 plus in Core subject and separately Key Stage 3 Welsh Level 5 plus information.   Consideration was also given to tabled information relating to Key Stage 2 differences between targets and actual performance, for the period 2009, 2010 and 2011.

 

The Head of School Improvement indicated that four schools within the Vale of Glamorgan had submitted low targets (i.e. three conservative and one overly optimistic teacher assessments).  It was therefore proposed that in these schools performance reviews would be undertaken and where inconsistencies were identified each school would be challenged on their submissions by the respective Link Advisor. 

 

Discussion ensued with comments being made on the appropriate use of data derived from teacher assessments and the use of other data in additional to teacher assessments which provided the relevant evidence to indicate that schools required further assistance.  The Head of School Improvement, in referring to the tabled information which related to Key Stage 2 differences for 2009,  2010 and 2011 for primary schools within the Vale of Glamorgan, drew the Committee’s attention to the data which suggested a correlation between those schools identified in green and red as both signalling inconsistencies in teacher assessments.  The information for these individual schools when compared against the Local Authority Aggregate Figure showed significant variances above and below this figure. 

 

Councillor Ellis, in referring to the information contained within the agenda and tabled, referred to the current predicament of Oakfield Primary School and enquired of the Head of Service as to what information had been available to the Local Authority which would have alerted the Council to what was now known as a poor Estyn inspection outcome.  Accordingly she asked the Head of Service if a report could be submitted for consideration setting out how school performance issues were identified and intervention arrangements / intelligence used when a school was recognised as having poor performance.

 

The Head of Service in response referred to specific issues which had arisen at this school and support that had been provided by the Council to support the school.

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T a further report be submitted to a future meeting of the Committee setting out performance and intervention arrangements to support schools where likely under performance had been identified.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To apprise the Committee of performance and intervention arrangements to support under performing schools.

 

 

351     QUARTERLY PERFORMANCE MONITORING - QUARTER 1 - INCLUSION SERVICE (DLD) -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position with regard to the Inclusion Service Quarter 1 performance monitoring be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In acknowledgement of action taken in meeting performance targets in Quarter 1.

 

 

352     QUARTERLY PERFORMANCE MONITORING - QUARTER 1 - SCHOOL IMPROVEMENT (DLD) -

           

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position with regard to School Improvement Quarter 1 performance monitoring be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In acknowledgement of action taken in meeting performance targets in Quarter 1.

 

 

353     QUARTERLY PERFORMANCE MONITORING - QUARTER 1 - STRATEGIC PLANNING AND PERFORMANCE (DLD) -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position with regard to Strategic Planning and Performance Quarter 1 performance monitoring be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In acknowledgement of action taken in meeting performance targets in Quarter 1.

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