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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING)

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 24th June, 2013.

 

Present: Councillor N.P. Hodges (Chairman); Councillor Ms. R. Birch (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Mrs. M.E.J. Birch, Ms. K. Edmunds, H.C. Hamilton, T.H. Jarvie, F.T. Johnson, A. Parker, R.A. Penrose and E. Williams.

 

Co-opted Members:  Mr. P. Burke (Roman Catholic Church) and Dr. C. Brown (Parent Governor - Secondary Sector).

 

Non-voting Observers:  Mr. G. Beaudette (Primary Sector) and Mr. D. Treharne (Welsh Medium Education).

 

Also present: Councillors C.P.J. Elmore and N. Moore.

 

 

116            APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE –

 

This was received from Mr. L. Kellaway (Parent Governor - Primary Sector).

 

 

117            MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 23rd May, 2013 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

118            DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

The following declarations were received:

 

Dr. C. Brown

Agenda Item No. 7 – "Individual Schools Progress Meetings"

 

Reason for declaration: Parent Governor at Llantwit Major School.

Councillor E. Williams

Agenda Item No. 7 - "Individual Schools Progress Meetings"

 

Reason for declaration: Governor of Llantwit Major School.

 

As a Local Authority Governor of Llantwit Major School, his personal interest did not equate to a prejudicial interest and therefore he was able to speak and vote on the matter.

 

 

119            REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL 2013 TO 30TH APRIL 2013 (CLSO) –

 

Committee’s attention was drawn to the position in respect of revenue and capital expenditure for the period 1st April to 30th April 2013 regarding those revenue and capital budgets which formed this Committee’s remit.

 

Overall, the Education Budget was projected to balance as at the end of March 2014.  Any savings identified between now and the end of the year would be available to redirect into the School Investment Strategy or other reserves.

 

Provision had been made within the budget for the annual cost of financing the School Investment Strategy of £600,000.  This sum would be transferred to the School Investment Strategy Reserve.

 

The Monitoring report also contained details of the financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 30th April 2013.

 

Having considered the report, and it being noted that it was early in the financial year, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the 2013/14 revenue and capital monitoring be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

That Members are aware of the position with regard to the 2013/14 revenue and capital monitoring relevant to this Scrutiny Committee.

 

 

120            RELEASE OF PART II SCRUTINY REPORT: SCHOOL PLACES REVIEW (CLSO) –

 

Committee were advised in relation to the request to release the Part II report of the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee School Places Review Task and Finish Group. 

 

The Part II report of the School Places Review Task and Finish Group was considered by the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee on 21st January 2013.  The report and recommendations were approved and referred to Cabinet for consideration. 

 

The report was considered by Cabinet on 4th February 2013. 

 

Councillor Jarvie had now requested that the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee consider releasing the Part II report. 

 

It was reported that, building on the work of the Scrutiny Committee School Places Review Group, Cabinet was developing a range of proposals which it intended consulting upon in due course.  Whilst it was accepted that the Scrutiny Committee’s report must be released at some point in the future, it was not considered to be in the public interest to do so at the present time for the following reasons:

 

·         two sets of proposals would be in the public domain at the same time which was likely to cause confusion, and could prejudice the outcome of consultations

·         it was possible that one or more of the recommendations put forward by the Scrutiny Committee would be taken forward by the Cabinet and the original reason for exemption (exemption 15: contemplation of consultations relating to labour relations matters between the Authority and employees of the Authority) was therefore still applicable.  In essence, this meant that some proposals would have staffing implications and the release of the proposals prior to consultation could prejudice the outcome of consultation and negotiations with the Trade Unions.

 

Councillor Jarvie, in support of his Request for Consideration, felt that it was accepted that the report would be released at some time in the future and reminded Committee that some of the contents of the report were already in the public domain.  Furthermore, Cabinet on 4th March 2013 had divulged the names of three of the schools subject to the report. 

 

Councillor Jarvie expressed the view that the report should have been made available to the public when agendad for consideration by Cabinet.  The view was also expressed that Cabinet was not giving the Scrutiny Committee the respect to which it was entitled, and that the Part II restriction should be rescinded with immediate effect. 

 

Officers responded by stating that the reasons for the classification of the report as Part II were contained in paragraph 6 of the report.  It was possible that, should Cabinet issue a set of proposals, then this could result in confusion to the general public.

 

Other Members of the Committee, in agreement with the views of officers, expressed the view that more than three schools had been subject to the report.  Should the report be made public, staff morale could be affected and it was felt that the contents of the report should not be made public at the present time, although it was acknowledged that the contents could be made public in the fullness of time. 

 

Another view expressed at the meeting was that Cabinet had been in possession of the report long enough to have dealt with it, and it was proposed that Cabinet be suggested a deadline to deal with the proposals and that if the report had not been dealt with by that time then the report be made public.  Some consensus was expressed with this proposal, and discussions ensued as to what deadline could be set. 

 

In considering the matter, the Chairman felt that the Committee had done what was asked of it, and had developed a set of proposals.  It was not within the power of the Committee to bring the proposals to fruition – that was the responsibility of the Cabinet, but six months later there had been no progress. 

 

Councillor Elmore, with the consent of the Committee, advised that Cabinet were continuing to consider the report and matters were moving ahead.  It was a huge piece of work.

 

Councillor N. Moore, with the consent of the Committee, spoke of ownership of the report.  At the time, he had made enquiries as to whether the report could be publicly released and had been advised that ownership of the report rested with the Scrutiny Committee.  It was a matter for that Committee to decide whether the report should be made public.  At the time, the names of three schools had become public, and it was for that reason that Cabinet had taken the decisions that it had. 

 

Councillor N. Moore added that, whilst part of the report had been dealt with, there were still further issues for Cabinet to consider. 

 

Furthermore, if the decision was taken to make the report publicly available, then consideration would need to be given by the Committee of the reason why its earlier decision to make the report Part II should be rescinded.

 

Following discussions, the motion, duly seconded, was put that Cabinet be informed that it was the wish of this Committee to release the report to the public on 2nd January 2014. 

 

Following the taking of a vote, the motion was carried. 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T Cabinet be informed that it was the wish of this Committee to release the report to the public on 2nd January 2014. 

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To inform Cabinet of the Committee’s intention.

 

 

121            LOOKED AFTER CHILDREN IN EDUCATION – END OF YEAR PERFORMANCE REPORT 2011/12 (NATIONAL STRATEGIC INDICATORS, PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY MEASURES, SERVICE IMPROVEMENT DATA) (CLSO) –

 

Committee were informed of annual performance results pertaining to the education of Looked After Children (LAC) for the year ended 31st March 2012. 

 

Appendix 1 to the report contained a report summarising the Vale’s performance against national indicators for the year ended 2011/12 in relation to the education of LAC. 

 

Five indicators achieved a top quartile performance, ranked between 1st and 7th when compared with the rest of Wales.

 

Three indicators achieved a performance within the middle quartiles, ranked between 9th and 16th when compared with other Welsh Authorities.

 

One indicator was in the bottom quartile of performance, ranked 19th in Wales.

 

Of the nine total indicators, the Vale performed better than or as well as the Welsh average in seven measures.

 

Both attendance measures achieved a top quartile performance.  Primary school attendance for LAC was one of the most improved of the indicators, having been in the lower middle quartile in 2010/11.  LAC attendance at secondary school fractionally deteriorated since 2010/11, but the 2011/12 figure remained the 6th highest in Wales.

 

No LAC were permanently excluded from school during 2011/12.  This was the best possible performance for this indicator and was also recorded in all but three councils across Wales. 

 

The percentage of LAC achieving the Core Subject Indicator (CSI) at KS2 was 83.33% in the Vale, which was the best performance in Wales.  It was a deliberate policy to target KS2 with additional literacy and numeracy support with SAGLAC funding to ensure pupils achieved the CSI and can more easily cope with KS3 curriculum and the transition to comprehensive schools.  The first language of the only pupil who did not achieve the CSI was not English and he was now statemented for learning, emotional and behavioural needs.  He received SAGLAC support in addition to the support provided by his statement.

 

This was in contrast with performance KS3, where 12.5% of LAC achieved the CSI compared with the national average of 30.73%.  This was the only bottom quartile performance the Vale recorded for the nine measures and was a deterioration on the Vale’s 2010/11 performance, which was in the upper middle quartile.  Three of this cohort had statements for learning difficulties.  One was in the PRU with extremely poor attendance, which also affected the Secondary attendance figures.  This pupil was looked after, but placed with a parent.  One other narrowly missed the CSI, one refused SEGLAC support and another missed the CSI despite having tuition in Maths.  The pupil who did achieve the CSI did exceptionally well, gaining 776.

 

In 2011/12, 9.93% of LAC experienced one or more changes in school.  This was the 9th lowest percentage in Wales, placing the Vale in the upper middle quartile and was also an improvement on last year’s performance of 11.67%.  The fewer the changes of placement at school, the better for LAC.  Coping with a new school put further stress on them and inevitably affected academic continuity and progress. 

 

The Vale performed better than the Welsh average in terms of the percentage of LAC with a Personal Education Plan within 20 school days of entering care or joining a new school.  However, this was only the 16th best performance in Wales, which placed the Vale in the lower middle quartile.  This was a disappointing performance which continued to challenge the Council. 

 

The Vale achieved the third highest external qualifications point score for 16 year old LAC in Wales.  Whilst this was well above the Welsh average, there was a slight deterioration in actual performance in comparison with 2010/11.  This very much depended on the cohort and how many were in mainstream schools.  The majority of this cohort achieved qualifications at KS4, two pupils had 10 A*-Cs, including English and Maths, six had at least 5 A*-Cs and nine had between one and four GCSEs.  One of these was provided with SEGLAC-funded GCSE tuition in English and Maths whilst he was in Parc Prison, Bridgend.  Another was statemented with severe learning difficulties.  Of the four with no qualifications, two were in residential homes, refusing to engage with education, one was home educated and came into the care system in Year 11 and the other also came into the care system in Year 11 and had been previously living in Spain, accessing no education for several years.

 

The LAC Education Team (formerly the Children First Team) was pleased with its performance in relation to other local authorities in South East Wales.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the progress made to date in the performance of Looked After Children in education be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To identify where further improvements could be focused to improve overall performance in order to ensure continuous improvement.

 

 

122            INDIVIDUAL SCHOOLS PROGRESS MEETINGS (CLSO) –

 

Committee were provided with an update on the progress meeting at Llantwit Major Comprehensive School undertaken by a panel of three Members of the Scrutiny Committee.

 

The Scrutiny Committee had previously considered a series of reports describing the attainment of pupils attending schools in the Vale.  The reports had described the success of many pupils in many schools, highlighted further progress that was needed and provided information about the programmes for support and challenge that had been put in place.

 

In addition, the Council had also adopted an approach which would seek to increase the accountability of schools for pupil attainment.  Estyn reports and follow up progress reports were regularly reported to the Scrutiny Committee together with school by school performance data for secondary schools.  In order to build on this approach and to ensure that work to tackle weak performance was supported and that schools were challenged to make accelerated progress, the Scrutiny Committee had agreed to establish the Scrutiny Panels at its meeting on 18th February, 2013.

 

The Panel Members comprised of three members of the Committee and the Chairman of Governors and the Headteacher were invited to attend together with a third member and the Cabinet Member for Children’s Services. 

 

To this end, an invitation was extended to the Headteacher of Llantwit Major, the Chairman of Governors and the Cabinet Member in accordance with the agreed process.  The purpose of the meeting being to establish that there were up to date and authoritative plans in place to address any concerns, to ensure that the school had arrangements in place to monitor the impact of the plans and amend them as appropriate and to establish what progress had been made and what further progress was required.

 

The meeting took place on 23rd April, 2013.  The Headteacher had been afforded the opportunity to provide a presentation to the Panel which advised on the improvements that had been made to date, including the school’s capacity to further improve over the forthcoming years.

 

With regard to the School Improvement Plan for 2011/12, the key themes that were noted were as follows:

 

·         more efficient interrogation of data and tracking of pupil performance (by all staff)

·         appointment of Assistant Headteacher (Curriculum and Data) and Data Manager

·         the strategic leadership of the school was becoming increasingly focused and challenging.

 

Following the 2012 results for English, the school had committed to short term and long term actions. 

 

The short term actions that had been addressed were reported as:

 

·         controlled assessments being re-drafted

·         re-sit oral opportunities provided

·         module results reviewed on 7th March and those below probable “C†identified

·         Easter revision for pupils who had underachieved in exams targeting skills

·         after school revision by all departments

·         literature targeted for those still not achieving

·         introduction of the Education London Programme

·         LINKS departmental support.

 

Following a full presentation of pupil data etc., the long term actions of the school were identified as follows:

 

·         to embed the short term actions

·         maintain robust data and tracking

·         define strategy and structure (e.g. line manager and data manager position)

·         undertake departmental reviews

·         curriculum development and time allocation.

 

In order to monitor progress the school had established a data base which produced a number of spreadsheets which would be regularly monitored and analysed.  The school had also received support from Education London and purchased support from the LINKS team which had assisted targeted groups.

 

Since the initiatives had been introduced, the Panel Members noted that the school was currently anticipating 58% of students achieving 5 A* - C GCSE grades in English and Maths. 

 

The Panel Members considered the information that had been presented in private and had concluded that the school appeared to have robust arrangements for the improvements in place and a clear commitment from staff and Governors.  Robust data systems had been established and significant analysis undertaken.  Members considered the effectiveness of the plans would be further clarified by the forthcoming examinations.

 

The Panel also recommended to revisit the school in October 2013 to review the school results with a further meeting to be scheduled in December 2013 to discuss banding, in required.  This was welcomed by the Headteacher as was the challenge for improvement. 

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Scrutiny Panel findings as detailed in the report be accepted.

 

(2)       T H A T a further report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee following the revisit to the School in October 2013.

 

(3)       T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet for consideration and / or approval.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To apprise Committee of the findings of the Scrutiny Panel.

 

(2)       To monitor and follow up the recommendations of the Scrutiny Panel.

 

(3)       For Cabinet consideration.

 

 

 123           CENTRAL SOUTH CONSORTIUM JOINT EDUCATION SERVICE PROGRESS REPORT: MAY 2013 (CLSO) –

 

Committee were provided with an update detailing the progress achieved by the Consortium and key issues to be addressed.

 

The Central South Consortium comprises Cardiff, Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil, Rhondda Cynon Taff and Vale of Glamorgan Councils.  The Joint Education Service was established in September to undertake a range of school improvement activities including statutory functions, on behalf of the Council.

 

Work was underway to develop arrangements for the joint scrutiny of the Central South Consortium Joint Education Service by the five Councils.  These arrangements were likely to mean that in the future scrutiny of the Central South Consortium Joint Education Service was undertaken by the new Joint Scrutiny Committee rather than by this Committee.  A further report would be brought to this Committee in due course.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the report be referred to the Cabinet for information.

 

(3)       T H A T progress on the Joint Scrutiny meetings of the Joint Education Service be reported to this Committee.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       The Central South Consortium Joint Education Service carries out a range of school improvement functions on behalf of the Council and good progress is essential for local children and schools.

 

(2)       For the information of Cabinet.

 

(3)       To be advised of progress on the Joint Scrutiny meetings of the Joint Education Service.

 

 

124            KEY STAGE 3 IMPROVEMENT STRATEGY (REF) –

 

Approval was sought of Cabinet on 22nd April 2013 to agree a proposed Key Stage 3 (KS 3) Improvement Strategy which was attached to the report. 

 

Since KS 3 standards "flat lined" in 2012, it was clear that there needed to be a more holistic approach to securing improvements in KS 3, encapsulating key aspects of curriculum design and the assessment of skills, effective transition between KS 2 / 3 and improvements in the quality of teaching and learning.  The KS 3 Improvement Strategy adopted this approach.

 

The KS 3 strategy outlined the rationale, challenges and the respective roles of Consortia and Local Authorities in improving outcomes for children and young people, as well as the specific need in the Vale to focus work on improving standards in KS 3.

 

 The profile for secondary schools in the Vale, contained in the KS 3 Strategy itself, outlined where specifically, within KS 3, there was a need to improve.

 

Specifically, KS 3 performance fell noticeably in 2012.  Outcomes were similar to the all-Wales means for most performance indicators but performance indicators ranked lower than expected when compared to other Welsh Local Authorities.  In addition, the proportion of schools below the median for FSM benchmarking was higher than expected and improvements in performance over time were less than the all-Wales means.

 

L5+ English outcomes were weaker than for the other core subjects and mainly contributed to by lower writing outcomes.  Oracy and reading outcomes were similar to the previous year and writing slightly improved.  The latter was in part, attributable to the Local Authority’s recent focus on writing development and the introduction of the Power Writing programme across schools.

 

NC Level 6+ performance was similar to the previous year in Maths and Science, improved in Welsh but fell noticeably in English.  English results were significantly below those for other core subjects and fell below the all-Wales mean for the first time.  Other core subjects remained above these means.

 

This indicated that more able pupils were generally achieving well within Vale secondary schools at KS 3 except in English. 

 

2012 aggregated FSM benchmarking performance (at L5+) was poor.  The proportion of schools above the median was less than expected for all performance indicators.  English outcomes were ranked the lowest out of all Welsh Local Authorities with the CSI ranked last but one. 

 

Comparisons with other Local Authorities indicated that Vale performance ranking fell significantly in 2012 and well below that expected in relation to contributory contextual factors. 

 

The Strategy provided an overview of the various aspects of school improvement which needed to be addressed if overall improvements in standards was to be secured.

 

Aspects included: reducing the variance between targets and actual performance, improving the consistency of teacher assessment, improved transition plans and curriculum plans, KS 3 curriculum design, improvement in self-evaluation and leadership, as well as the need to implement targeted support for identified schools.

 

The supportive action plan set out in detail ways in which each area could be targeted to secure further improvement.

 

It was suggested that a three year timeframe be applied to the action plan, the details of which were to underpin the majority of support programmes implemented in schools during that time.

 

Commissioned support would provide the resource required to fully implement the action plan.

 

The 25% retained element of the School Effectiveness Grant would provide the financial resources to commission the support required as set out in the plan.

 

Cabinet had

 

Resolved –

 

(1)       That the proposed strategy be agreed and referred to Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee for information.

 

(2)       That Cabinet receive update reports on the work outlined within the Improvement Strategy on a quarterly basis.

 

Scrutiny, having considered the report and the decisions of Cabinet,

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the decision of Cabinet be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having regard to the decision of Cabinet.

 

 

125            SUMMARY OF SCHOOL INSPECTION REPORTS FOR THE SPRING TRM 2013 (CLSO) –

 

The Committee received feedback on the following schools inspected during the Spring term:  Dinas Powys Infants, Peterston-Super-Ely Primary and Barry Comprehensive School.  A summary of the investigation findings were appended to the report.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Scrutiny Committee notes with great pleasure the results of the inspections.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In noting the results of the inspection.