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SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING)

 

Minutes of an extraordinary meeting held on 22nd September, 2014.

 

Present:  Councillor N.P. Hodges (Chairman); Councillor Ms. R. Birch (Vice-Chairman), Councillors Mrs. C.L. Curtis, Ms. K. Edmunds, 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. D. Treharne (Welsh Medium Education) and Ms. T. Young (Secondary Sector).

 

 

407            APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillor Mrs. M.E.J. Birch and Mr. L. Kellaway (Co-opted Member Parent Governor – Primary Sector).

 

 

408            DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST – 

 

Councillor R.A. Penrose stated that in respect of agenda item 8 he was a Governor of Sully School and was able to speak and vote on the matter.

 

 

409            CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE SERVICES – ANNUAL PLACEMENT REVIEW (DSS) –

 

The Head of Children and Young People Services advised that the report outlined the actions taken within the Children and Young People Services Department during 2013/14 with regard to placement provision for Looked After Children (LAC) and the actions being undertaken in 2014/15.

 

The report had also been considered by the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) who had requested to receive regular updates to existing reporting arrangements including a monthly budget programme report and six monthly reports on the Children and Young People Services’ Commissioning Strategy and Foster Carer Recruitment Strategy.

 

It was noted that the number of children with complex needs was increasing and meeting those needs within appropriate placements placed pressure on budgets.  Some of the individual placements were very expensive and could be in the region of over £200k per year.  In view of this it was therefore essential that the Council had in place a coherent strategy for meeting need within the resources available.  Reference was made to the fact that one of the key savings projects being managed as part of the Social Services Budget Programme related to residential placements for Looked After Children, with a target of £150k in cashable savings each year between 2014/15 and 2016/17. 

 

Attached at Appendix 1 to the report was the Annual Placement Review in which Officers had analysed the financial position, the demand for placements and spending patterns.  The report demonstrated the volatility of the placement budget and the significant impact individual cases could have on overall expenditure.  The Head of Service however, advised that the Children and Young People Services division had made good progress in delivering the actions agreed in the budget programme, as demonstrated by the routine monitoring reports.  The report also highlighted the considerable activity that had been undertaken to date in response to the challenges associated with children’s placements.  Reference within the report was made to the Commissioning Strategy which was also an item for discussion later in the agenda.   Members were informed that the Department was also looking to increase the number of foster carers within the Vale of Glamorgan and would continue to apply to the Court for the revocation of Care Orders where this is appropriate for the child / young person concerned. 

 

In response Committee considered that it was a very good report which provided a detailed account of the placements provided by the Council, the types of cases and the circumstances.  Members stated that they fully understood the predicament for the Department with regard to matters outside of its control, in particular in relation to Court directions which impinged on resources. 

 

Following consideration of the report the Scrutiny Committee

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

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

 

(2)       T H A T a further Annual Placement Review report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in July 2015.

 

(3)       T H A T the department be commended on the work undertaken to date with regard to placement provision for Looked After Children for the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To provide Members with an opportunity to exercise oversight of a key statutory function.

 

(3)       To congratulate the department on the work undertaken to date.

 

 

410            UPDATE ON YOUNG CARER SERVICES (REF) –

 

The report had been referred by the Scrutiny Committee (Social Care and Health) for consideration with particular regard to the issue identified therein of a lack of engagement with some schools. 

 

The report highlighted that young carers were defined as children and young people under the age of 18 who had caring responsibilities for someone who had a physical or mental illness, a physical or learning disability, or a drug or alcohol problem.  The person they looked after may be a parent, a brother or sister, a grandparent or another relative and they may provide practical or physical care, help with personal care, assistance with domestic tasks and / or emotional support.  Regardless of their age, all carers had the right to an assessment of their needs as a carer.  There was however, no specific legislation which referred to 'young carers' as a specific category although each local authority had a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of children in their area who were in need and to also promote the upbringing of such children wherever possible by their families through providing an appropriate range of services.  The Vale of Glamorgan itself commissioned externally a Young Carers Project through Action for Children.  This service provided opportunities for young carers to participate in social activities, events and short breaks outside the school and home environment.  The service was jointly funded through the Children and Young People Partnership via Families First funding and by Social Services. 

 

In 2012 a scoping exercise had been undertaken to identify the potential number of young carers in primary and secondary schools in the Vale of Glamorgan.  33 schools had been approached, more than 2,000 children surveyed, with 179 of them believing that they were a young carer and another 214 being unsure if they were young carers.  In extrapolating the information it was therefore suggested that there were as many as 1,800 young carers within the Vale of Glamorgan.  Training for teachers was being offered in order to help them identify particular signs of children or young people that could be carers and the report outlined the survey findings which were attached at Appendix A to the report.  Attached at Appendix B were case studies of services provided to young carers to support them in their role.

 

Following a tendering exercise, it was noted that a new tender had just been awarded to the YMCA to provide the service and that following a query regarding one of the recommendations that the Directorate investigate the possibility of introducing a Young Carer Card offering benefits such as discounts to young carers, Members were informed that a scoping exercise as to how other local authorities were approaching this issue had been completed, which it was hoped would assist the Council in determining a way forward. 

 

With regard to the concern of lack of engagement within some schools, the Children and Young People Partnership Manager advised that not all schools had been approached as there had been limited resources in order to undertake consultation, however, it was accepted that approximately 1,800 carers existed. 

 

Having fully considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee receives an update report on an annual basis.

 

(2)       T H A T the work undertaken to date to support young carers in the Vale of Glamorgan be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure that Members continue to exercise effective oversight of this important function undertaken by the Social Services Directorate.

 

(2)       In recognition of the work undertaken to date.

 

 

411            CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE SERVICES – COMMISSIONING STRATEGY AND ACTION PLAN 2013 – 2018 (REF) –

 

The report provided an update on the progress made in implementing the Children and Young People Services Commissioning Strategy and Action Plan 2013-18.  A copy of the Strategy was attached as an appendix to the report, with it being noted that the Strategy contained four key objectives:

  • To support families to stay together and reduce the need for children to be looked after by ensuring a focus on early intervention and preventative action across all service provision for children, including statutory and independent providers
  • To manage risk confidently and provide support at the 'edge of care' by making sure that need and risk are accurately assessed and receive the proper response, so that the right children are accommodated at the right time.  This includes supporting families by making private arrangements within their wider family networks.
  • To provide and commission a flexible and affordable mix of high quality placements that met the diverse range of children’s needs.
  • To give children clearly planned journeys through care which remain focused on achieving care plans; prevent drift; enable them to be reunited with family and friends where possible; provide them with stable placements and opportunities to exit the care system positively.

An updated Action Plan was also attached at Appendix 2 to the report and confirmed that good progress was being made in the first year of the Strategy. Many of the actions had been completed, while other longer term measures were on track and on time. 

 

Members welcomed the report and recognised that the Strategy was a Council wide strategy which would require a continued co-ordinated effort from all divisions and other service providers to deliver.  It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the progress made in delivering the Children and Young People Services Commissioning Strategy and Action Plan attached as appendices to the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Scrutiny Committee continues to receive six monthly progress updates on the Children and Young People Services Commissioning Strategy and Action Plan 2013 – 18.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1&2)  To provide Members with opportunities to exercise oversight over a key strategic document for the Council. 

 

 

412            ANNUAL TURNOVER REPORT – APRIL 2013 TO MARCH 2014 (REF) –

 

The Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) had received the report and recommended that the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) consider the issues in relation to employee turnover information in relation to school staff.  The report provided a detailed look at employee turnover rates in the Council using the themes within the Workforce Plan.  Paragraph 8 of the report provided a table which set out the comparison in employee turnover rate for 2012/13 and 2013/14.  In 2013/14 the overall turnover rate in the Council had been 8.64%.  This compared favourably with the turnover rate of 10.28% for the previous year 2012-14.  Turnover in schools had however, increased from 6.66% of the schools’ headcount to 8% in 2013/14. 

 

With regard to schools, the number of teachers leaving employment had increased from 5.19% to 8.49% and the number of support staff leaving had increased from 8.82% to 9.69%.  A breakdown was also provided of the number of employees leaving and their occupational profile set out in paragraph 19 of the report. 

 

Members, having considered the report,

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the report and the contents contained therein be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In view of the information contained therein.

 

 

413            HOW FUNDING HAS BEEN ALLOCATED AND MONITORED FOR THE SCHOOL SWIMMING INITIATIVE (DLS) –

 

Councillor Mrs. C.L. Curtis had requested that the matter be considered following a meeting of the Local Authority Partnership held with Sports Wales where the issue of school swimming had been raised.  The concerns related to the allowance received for swimming by all primary schools, how much this was, how it was allocated and how spending was monitored.  The Sports Council Wales had suspended investment into swimming in the Vale until this information could be provided.  The request for information centred around the following:

  • Which schools were accessing school swimming
  • Where the swimming was taking place – in the Vale or outside, in Council owned pools or other
  • How much was being spent per pupil on school swimming in each school
  • How much of the Education budget was allocated to school swimming and
  • Was the allowance specified separately in the school budget.

Councillor Mrs. Curtis advised the Committee that following her Request for Consideration the information had now been received, with an Aquatics Plan produced by Parkwood Leisure, and the Sports Council Wales had now been informed accordingly.  The report outlined that the Vale of Glamorgan received £121,580 from Sports Wales on an annual basis to deliver the Aquatics Plan in the Vale.  Parkwood Leisure lead on the development of the Plan in consultation with partners, including Swim Wales, the Plan being agreed and monitored by the Vale Sport Management Board as part of the Vale Sport Plan. 

 

The information received to date suggested that Parkwood was currently finalising an Aquatics Plan for the year, with the contract being monitored by the Operational Manager for Leisure Services.  The report further highlighted that the Council was committed to the aim that all children should be swimmers by the age of 11 and that the Free Swimming Initiative (FSI) funding should not be confused with the funding for school swimming lessons, which was part of the delegated funding that each school receives from the Council.

 

Paragraph 13 of the report stated that of the 45 primary schools, 38 had accessed swimming lessons in the last academic year and 26 of the schools had accessed Vale Council pools.  Out of the seven schools that did not access swimming lessons, two only had Foundation Phase pupils on roll and were therefore not eligible, and for  the other five, reassurance had been given that all would be accessing swimming lessons during the 2014/15 academic year. 

 

In response to the Chairman’s query as to whether Councillor Mrs. Curtis’ concerns had been addressed, she stated that she was satisfied with the information and, in particular, that the report and the request had enabled the Aquatics Plan to come forward.  Following Councillor Mrs. Curtis further request that the information be updated on a regular basis the Committee subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the allocation and monitoring of funding for school swimming be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Committee accepts that the Council was fulfilling the obligations under the terms of the School Swimming as part of the Council’s overall Aquatics Plan.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       Following consideration of the request.

 

(2)       The Committee accepted that the Council was compliant with the Welsh Government’s Free Swimming Initiative and acknowledges the reinstatement by Sports Council Wales of investment in swimming in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

 

414            SUMMARY OF SCHOOL INSPECTION REPORTS FOR THE SPRING TERM 2014 (DLS) –

 

Three primary schools had been inspected during the Spring term 2014 namely Llancarfan Primary, Ysgol Sant Curig and Sully Primary.  The overall judgement for the schools was that current performance was good and the prospects for improvement were good.  A copy of the feedback inspection report for each of the schools was attached as an appendix to the report.

 

The Chairman stated that he welcomed the inspection reports and on behalf of the Committee wished to congratulate the three schools on their performance.  It was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T letters of congratulation be sent to the schools on behalf of the Committee in recognition of the work undertaken to date.  

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In recognition of good performance.

 

 

415            MID-YEAR SCHOOL ATTENDANCE REPORT (DLS) –

 

Members were provided with the details of early indications of improvement in school attendance.  The report had been deferred for consideration from previous meetings of the Committee due to the management of agenda items.  The Director of Learning and Skills subsequently provided Members with up to date information in relation to end of year figures for overall attendance as follows:

  • primary sector – the end of year figure for the whole of the school year was 95.3% which was a 1.1% improvement on the previous year.  Information for 2013/14 was not yet available;
  • secondary sector – there had been an increase of 1.4% on the 2011/12 figures to 94.2%.

In comparison with other local authorities in Wales, the Vale could confirm that it was now joint fourth.  Any further information would be brought to the Scrutiny Committee via future quarterly monitoring reports.

 

In referring to the report, the Director advised that the Callio Approach had been adopted in schools in the Vale of Glamorgan with Members agreeing that it had been a successful initiative.  A Member who was a Governor of St. Helen’s Junior School stated that the school had taken a decision to adopt a zero attendance policy in relation to holidays and, as such, school attendance was now 97%.  Members also recognised that it was a brave decision of the Scrutiny Committee and Cabinet to adopt a zero tolerance approach and were pleased to receive the report which provided Members with an opportunity to keep school attendance under close review and to continue to inform future policy and practice. 

 

In response to a Member’s request that information at Appendix 2 for secondary school attendance be provided in the future for primary schools the Member also made reference to the good attendance figures for St. Cyres, with a request that the school be congratulated on their performance.  The Chairman advised that the Performance Panel set up for St. Cyres would be revisiting the school in the near future and the message would be conveyed at that time.

A Member also queried how many prosecutions had been made for non-attendance, the Director of Learning and Skills advised that she would obtain the information and forward it to Members in due course, although she was not aware that any fixed penalty notices had been issued to date.

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the improvements to date and the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In recognition of the increase in performance and to apprise Members in order that the Council can continue to inform future policy and practice.

 

 

416            SCHOOL AND COMMUNITY BASED COUNSELLING SERVICE FOR YOUNG PEOPLE (DLS) –

 

Following the Clywch report in 2004 issued by the then Children’s Commissioner Peter Clark, a counselling service for young people had been established.  The report highlighted that the benefits to young people of such a service were well documented and following consultation Welsh Government had launched its National Strategy for School Based Counselling for Wales in April 2008.  Since then an open procurement process had taken place during 2013 for the delivery of the School and Community Based Counselling Service in line with the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and with the Council’s Standing Orders. 

 

Action for Children was appointed as a provider from June 2013 for a three year period.

 

Robust monitoring and evaluation systems were in place to comply with Welsh Government requirements, and the Management Board continued to oversee the service. The service continued to report to Welsh Government as required and was part of any Estyn inspection that took place of the local authority or individual schools.  Feedback was collected from school staff and pupils.

 

Between April 2013 to March 2014, 379 young people undertook an episode of counselling, 11 of these were year 6 pupils and 34 where part of the community counselling and included those referred by post education providers or the Out of School Team.  This equated to 1,558 individual sessions, with females accounting for over 60% of those accessing the service.  More young people appear to access the service as they get older, with a peak in year 10.  Approximately 40% of young people self-refer to the service through various mechanisms including electronically.   

 

Of those seen by a counsellor, five young people reported being a 'Looked After Child' (LAC), this was below the national average.  This has been discussed by the Management Board and raised with the appropriate staff working directly with LAC, but numbers remained low.  51 young people identified themselves as having a special educational need or a disability, which equated to approximately 14% of service users, most of whom were within mainstream education.

 

The main issues for referral (presenting issues) were family, stress, anger and stress issues and the predominant issues highlighted during counselling included family, pupil self-worth and anger. 

 

It was reported that the service was going from strength to strength and unfortunately there had been some difficulties and challenges, in particular with some schools having to establish waiting lists as the service was proving successful.  Further information in relation to such waiting lists was anticipated following feedback in January 2015. 

 

The annual review was attached at Appendix 1 to the report which had been undertaken by Action for Children.  Close working between Action for Children, the Contract Manager and the Management Board ensured that all noted issues were being monitored closely and that standards remained high with issues being regularly discussed and challenged. 

 

One of the non-voting members on the Committee could confirm that, in their school, the service had been invaluable and was successfully operating.  In noting the funding the Chairman stated that for such a limited sum a considerable amount of work was undertaken.  He welcomed the report and the success of the service which was assisting young people in the Vale of Glamorgan, following which it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the success of the service be welcomed and the progress in relation to the development of the local school and community based counselling service for young people in the Vale of Glamorgan be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T regular reports be referred to the Scrutiny Committee in order to continue to monitor progress in the development of the service.

           

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       In recognition of the work being undertaken.

 

(2)       In its scrutiny role to monitor progress.

 

 

417            CHILDCARE SUFFICIENCY ASSESSMENT 2013/14 (DLS) –

 

Members were apprised of the current position and progress in relation to the development of the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment (CSA) 2013-14.  The Assessment was attached at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

Welsh Government required that a full CSA was provided every three years to look in detail at demography, make up of children and families, childcare demand and supply and economic development and employment within the Vale of Glamorgan Council. 

 

In referring to the current CSA the report highlighted a number of gaps which included:

  • affordability of childcare
  • demand for Welsh Medium childcare places not meeting the needs
  • broader childcare needs for those parents working different shift patterns
  • availability of childcare in specific geographical areas of the Vale.

The final CSA was submitted to the Welsh Government in April 2014.  A draft action plan (attached at Appendix 2 to the report) had been completed in partnership with members of the EYDCP and was currently out for consultation and would be submitted to Welsh Government for approval. 

 

To address the gaps highlighted within the CSA, an Out of Schools Childcare Grant (OOSC Grant) had been allocated to the Children and Young People’s Partnerships for 2014-15.  This funding was utilised to support the sustainability of existing out of school childcare settings, to develop new childcare places / settings, make provision for children through the medium of Welsh and to continue with the Assisted Places scheme, supporting children in childcare who either have a disability / additional need or are a 'child in need’.  Welsh Government had accepted the Vale of Glamorgan’s proposals for the OOSC Grant 2014-15 (attached at Appendix 3 to the report).

 

To support the duties under sections 22, 26 and 27 of the Childcare Act 2006, funds were devolved to the Children and Young People's Partnership within Local Authorities to support the development of childcare provision.  These funds amount to £108,000.

 

In addition Welsh Government currently funded an annual 'Out of School Childcare Grant’ (£94,000) although the future of this funding remained unclear.  A part-time (15 hour) Childcare Development Worker post existed, to support existing and new childcare settings within the Vale.  Each year, Welsh Government required Local Authorities to provide a quarterly financial and narrative update against the targets they had set.  A copy of the 2013-14 report on spend could be found at Appendix 4 to the report.

 

The devolved childcare funds and Out of School Grant both helped address identified gaps within the CSA, future funding settlements risked the sustainability / continuation of the work.

 

Attached at Appendix 2 was a draft Action Plan which would be monitored and updated on a regular basis. 

 

In considering the report the Children and Young Peoples Partnership Manager advised that a full presentation on the document could be provided to Members, which would further detail the progress and current position in relation to the assessment.  The Chairman welcomed the offer, advising that further consideration could be for a presentation to take place prior to a meeting of the Committee if Members so wished.  In response to the Chairman’s query as to whether the officer considered that the action plan addressed all the gaps identified, the Manager advised that the report acknowledged what could be done with the funds available but he further acknowledged that more resources would assist although the report identified a variety of ways that the Council could provide services in relation to childcare needs. 

 

The Committee

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the key findings and recommendations within the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the Action Plan to address the gaps identified by the Childcare Sufficiency Assessment be noted.

 

(3)       T H A T further consideration of the offer of a presentation be considered by Members at a later date.

 

Reason for recommendations

 

(1)       In view of the recommendations for the review of childcare provision.

 

(2)       Having considered the draft Action Plan and the progress to date.

 

(3)       For Members’ information.

 

 

418            CENTRAL SOUTH CONSORTIUM REVIEW AND CHALLENGE: SUMMER 2014 (DLS) –

 

The first review and challenge meeting had been undertaken by the Central South Consortium with the Minister for Education and Skills chairing a challenge and review session for each consortium to review progress on school improvement in each region on an annual basis.  As a result the challenge and review assessment priorities and actions were agreed and have been reflected in the Consortium’s business plan for the next 12 months. 

 

The report highlighted that the first round of review and challenge meetings had taken place in June, with the Central South Consortium meeting on 24th June.  The key discussion points, actions and feedback from the meetings were summarised in the feedback report attached at Appendix A to the report.  The Director of Learning and Skills advised that future challenge and review meetings would consider regional outcomes against targets in the business plan and the Annex attached at Appendix B for the Vale of Glamorgan would provide a basis for the Scrutiny Committee to review progress against targets.  The Director also pointed out to Members that pupil attainment in the Vale had increased in 2013/14 and that had also been reflected across the Consortium.  Aware that Consortium representatives would be invited to a future meeting of the Committee for further scrutiny, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the feedback report and action points contained therein be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In recognition of the key points arising from the review and challenge meeting relating to governance and scrutiny.

 

 

419            INDIVIDUAL SCHOOL PROGRESS MEETING – EAGLESWELL (DLS) –

 

The Chairman advised the Scrutiny Committee of the progress meeting that had been held at Eagleswell Primary School by a Panel of three Members of the Committee, namely Councillor N.P. Hodges (Chairman of the Panel), Councillor Mrs. M.E.J. Birch and Mr. L. Kellaway, with Councillor C.P.J. Elmore, Mrs. K. Jacobs (Acting Head), Mrs. J. Vickers (Chairman of Governors), Mr. D. Mutlow (School Governor), Mrs. J. Hill (Director of Learning and Skills), Mrs. L. Jones (Head of School Improvement and Inclusion at the time), Mr. J. Commissiong (Challenge Advisor) and Mr. G.J. Davies (Scrutiny Support Officer) in attendance.

 

The report outlined that one of the reasons for the visit was that, following the Estyn inspection in February 2014, the school had been placed in the follow-up category, stipulating that significant improvement were required.  A Post Inspection Action Plan (PIAP) had been drafted by the school detailing how the school planned to improve and address the recommendations made by Estyn and under statutory powers the Local Authority had appointed two additional governors to the school in order to strengthen the work and support of the Governing Body.  Members were also informed that due to ill health of the substantive Headteacher, an Acting Head had been appointed on an interim basis from May 2014.  Since that date the Director could advise that the substantive Headteacher had recently retired and the Acting Head had been appointed to the position by the school Governing Body up to December 2014. 

 

At the Performance Panel meeting itself the Acting Headteacher had informed the Panel that during the inspection the school had been unable to document and evidence proper teacher planning and, in particular, the issue of teachers’ planning being completed in a retrospective basis.  This had led to concerns amongst Inspectors regarding the role and responsibility of the Senior Leadership Team and in particular regarding the monitoring of teachers’ planning and the ability of the school to progress the development of its pupils. 

 

In order to address the deficiencies in respect of teachers' planning, the school had ensured that planning was undertaken on a forward looking basis, was completed under a new common format and was regularly collected for evaluation.  Teachers now received individual feedback about their planning, which was sent to them in writing.  The Senior Leadership Team (SLT) of the school now regularly monitored teacher planning files and regular discussions were being held between teachers and senior leaders.

 

The Panel had raised concerns regarding the consistent completion of teachers' planning, as some teachers undertook planning on a fortnightly basis while others completed planning weekly. The Panel was also concerned with the reticence of some staff in co-operating with the actions highlighted within the school's PIAP. 

 

In addressing the issues regarding the roles and responsibilities of the Senior Leadership Team, the school had reviewed the structure of the SLT and roles and responsibilities had been defined.  The school at the time was still in the process of finalising the job descriptions for all staff members but advised that this would be concluded by September.  The Chairman of Governors welcomed the appointment of the two new Local Authority Governors and they fully recognised the help and the support that they had brought with them. 

 

In order to improve the standards of extended writing in English and across the curriculum, the school had compiled baseline data for every pupil and  this enabled the school to track and monitor individual progress for each pupil.  The tracking of pupil progress was centred around the 'INCERTS' system with data analysed on a termly basis so as to identify under achieving pupils and the areas where these pupils needed to improve. Intervention strategies for under achieving pupils now included Foundation Leaders meeting with each teacher in order to identify pupils requiring extra support. The school used the Big Write method to analyse the stages of development of pupils, while the introduction of pupil 'I Can' statements was still at an early stage. Teacher feedback marking was inconsistent; this was an area that the Governing Body Monitoring Panel would review and address.  The school had been able to acquire the support of a consultant to review the moderation of writing assessments and the school had also created a portfolio which showed examples of assessments completed by pupils up to Year 6.  An evaluation of the coverage of genres in reading and writing had been undertaken and this had been linked to curriculum plans.  The school had also conducted a staff training session to improve pupils’ sentence, punctuation and letter formation at Foundation Phase. 

 

To address Estyn's recommendation to raise the standards of Welsh at Key Stage 2 the school had undertaken an audit of provision and the representative from the Central South Consortium had been supporting the Learning Support Teacher assigned to Welsh.  A baseline for each pupil had been established in order to provide a proper starting point.  The school had also implemented a 10 minute period per day for the teaching of Welsh and this also included a 'Phrase of the Week'.  To improve curriculum planning the school had undertaken a mapping exercise and this had resulted in additional topics being included where they best fitted in.  There was also a greater level of consideration of Welsh within Maths and literacy and extra training had been provided to teachers and support staff and the Welsh in Education Officer from the Central South Consortium was assisting the school to improve this.  The school had also identified the need to improve teaching assessments as it was considered that these were not substantially robust. 

 

The Panel was advised that to ensure that the Key Stage 2 curriculum met statutory requirements the school had reviewed the literacy and numeracy framework and the cornerstone curriculum which was currently used within the school.  The Learning Support Teacher was actively working on identifying improvements to the curriculum, but it was not at present easy to evidence significant progress.  The school had reviewed long term, medium term and short term planning and a common format for teacher planning was now in place.  The school had also undertaken half term book reviews of literacy and Maths. 

 

Estyn had judged some teaching in the school to be unsatisfactory and the Panel was advised that in order to improve the quality of teaching, the school had looked at its teaching and learning policy and its criteria for evaluating teaching.  A baseline of teaching had been established and the school had been able to analyse the outcomes following the baseline evaluation, which had highlighted strengths and areas requiring improvement.  Support and peer coaching had been reviewed and termly observations and climate walks introduced.

 

The Panel's overall conclusion was that it welcomed the school’s acknowledgement of the need to make substantive changes to address the Estyn recommendations and to make significant improvements.  They noted the plans to address the recommendations, including the analysis of risk and detailed monitoring arrangements.  The school was correct to identify the sickness of the substantive Headteacher as a major risk which would need to be managed actively.  The Local Authority's support plan was comprehensive, included support from the Consortium and the Council and the Panel welcomed the appointment of additional Governors and the positive approach the Chair of Governors of the school had taken to the appointments.  The Panel recognised that there were some examples of early progress to implement the Plan, but they considered that much remained to be done.  The Panel, taking into account the identified risks and the early stage of development, planned to reconvene in the Autumn. 

 

The Chairman, in summing up, advised that, in his view, the school was a good school but could be so much better.  In considering the report reference was made to previous Individual School Progress Panel Meetings that had taken place in secondary schools in the Vale, with Members being advised that two of the schools had received above the minimum expectations that had been recommended for the GCSE results.  The Director advised that with regard to Barry Comprehensive School, she was currently assessing the situation and seeking advice in respect of the way forward and would be apprising Members, in particular those Members of the Panels, in due course.  The Chairman also requested that future dates for re-visits of all Individual School Progress Panels to the schools be arranged as soon as possible in the Autumn term.

 

In response to a request for full details regarding the GCSE results in August for all Secondary schools in the Vale the Director advised that a Cabinet report was currently being prepared and the Chairman asked for a copy of that report to be forwarded to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration.

 

Having considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Individual School Progress Panel findings as detailed in paragraph 18 of the report be accepted.

 

(2)       T H A T a follow up visit to the school by the Panel Members be arranged as soon as possible.

 

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

 

(4)       T H A T the Director of Learning and Skills devises a schedule for Individual School Progress Panel Members to revisit Llantwit Major, St. Cyres, Barry Comprehensive and Bryn Hafren.

 

(5)       T H A T the information in relation to the GCSE results for 2013/14 for the Vale of Glamorgan be presented as soon as possible.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

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

 

(2)       To monitor and undertake a follow up visit.

 

(3)       For Cabinet consideration.

 

(4)       To progress the work of the Performance Panels.

 

(5)       To apprise Members.

 

 

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