Agenda Item No. 6
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
LEARNING AND CULTURE SCRUTINY COMMITTEE: 12 FEBRUARY 2018
REFERENCE FROM CABINET: 22 JANUARY 2018
C202 VALE SEREN PROGRAMME (LC) (SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – LEARNING AND CULTURE) -
Cabinet was informed of the progress in implementing Welsh Government's Seren Programme.
Paul Murphy MP, former Secretary of State for Wales, was appointed to be Welsh Government's Oxbridge Ambassador. His remit was to improve the decline of Welsh applications and admissions to Oxford and Cambridge universities. The Seren Network was established in 2014 to support teachers and students to access information and resources and to inspire and help students progress to the top universities in the UK.
The Seren Network consisted of 11 regional Hubs covering the whole of Wales. The aim of the Network was to support Wales' brightest and most able students to reach their academic potential and gain access to leading universities. The Vale Seren Hub was formed in November 2016.
Initially, the emphasis of the Seren Programme was on encouraging students to make successful Oxbridge applications. Since the Vale Network was established there had been a total of 5 sessions of information and guidance in applications, interviews, and personal statements delivered by Cambridge University. There was also a Cambridge 3 day shadowing scheme running from 18 January, 2018 to which Vale Seren students had signed up to. Cambridge University had also delivered admissions tests. Oxford University had delivered test preparation sessions and a day trip to Jesus College Oxford took place in November 2017. A second day trip and tour had been planned for March 2018 that would include lectures in humanities/social sciences, natural sciences, interview masterclass and admissions. Whilst the focus had been on Oxbridge Universities, there had also been an increase in activities involving other Russell Group Universities.
The Vale Seren Network Partnership Group had been established to operationalise the programme. Membership consised of heads of sixth forms and the deputy head teacher of Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School. The meetings were chaired by the Seren Hub Co-ordinator. The Hub Co-ordinator attended national meetings in Newtown, chaired by Welsh Government. The Seren Project Board had been established to provide governance to the programme. Membership consisted of the Director of Learning and Skills, or her nominated representative, head teacher representatives and representation from Cardiff and Vale College (CAVC).
In order to improve communication and information sharing, a Vale Seren Hub webpage had been developed to ensure that events and activities were promoted using social media. Students would be able to sign up to receiving information on activities as and when they were posted.
Welsh Government had commissioned researchers from the organisation OB3 to undertake an evaluation of the Seren Network. In the Vale, a series of interviews and focus groups were undertaken with teachers who had been involved with Seren in a support capacity. A focus group with year 13 Seren students was also conducted. A session on Oxbridge applications, interviews, writing personal statements, and the Seren Network Meeting were observed. The initial feedback received from the interviews, focus groups and observations was highly positive. It was anticipated that OB3 will publish the report in February 2018.
As the Vale Seren Hub was only in its second year, the impact of the programme could not be measured until September 2018. To enable this evaluation to take place schools had been asked to collect data on the number of applications made to Russell Group and Oxbridge Universities.
This was a matter for Executive decision
Cabinet, having considered the report and all the issues and implications contained therein
(1) T H A T the progress made to date on the implementation of the Seren Programme in the Vale of Glamorgan be noted.
(2) T H A T a further update be received in 12 months by which time it will be possible to report on the impact of the programme.
(3) T H A T the report be referred to the Learning and Culture Scrutiny Committee for consideration.
Reasons for decisions
(1) To note the progress being made in implementing the Seren Programme in the Vale of Glamorgan.
(2) To evaluate the impact of the programme once the two year cycle of activities was complete.
(3) To ensure the Learning and Culture Scrutiny Committee was aware of the Seren Programme and the progress being made.
Attached as Appendix – Report to Cabinet – 22 JANUARY 2018