Agenda Item No.









“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




(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 be reported to the next 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.”