Agenda Item No


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Cabinet Meeting: 22 April 2013


Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services


Key Stage 3 Improvement Strategy


Purpose of the Report

1.         To provide members with a draft copy of the proposed KS 3 Improvement Strategy for scrutiny and further comment.


1.         That members note and agree the proposed strategy and refer to Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To further refine and implement the strategy to improve standards in KS 3


2.         Since 2009 standards in Key Stage 3 have improved. However, standards 'flat-lined' in 2012 and are a cause for concern.

3.         A full Performance Review, including that of KS 3, has previously been reported to Cabinet.

4.         A significant support programme has been implemented during the academic year 2012 - 2013 (Appendix 3 of the strategy). Further teacher assessment results are due in June 2013.

5.         However, it is clear that there is now a need for a more holistic approach to securing improvements in KS 3, encapsulating key aspects of curriculum design and the assessment of skills, effective transition between KS2/3 and improvements in the quality of teaching and learning.

6.         The KS 3 Improvement Strategy adopts this approach and is presented to Cabinet for comment.

Relevant Issues and Options

7.         The National agenda for improvement is focused on improving attainment in literacy, numeracy and closing the gap in achievement due to disadvantage.

8.         The National Literacy and Numeracy Frameworks underpinned by the National Support Programme will soon be implemented across Wales to further support the National Improvement Agenda.

9.         The results of forthcoming National Reading and Numeracy tests, coupled with the forensic use of data will further underpin implementation of improvement strategies.

10.      The KS 3 Strategy (Appendix A) outlines 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 our work on improving standards in Key Stage 3.

11.      The performance profile for secondary schools in the Vale, contained in the KS 3 Strategy itself, outlines where specifically, within KS 3, we need to improve (Appendix 1 of the Strategy).

12.      Specifically: KS3 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 LAs. 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.

13.      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 is, in part, attributable to the LA’s recent focus on writing development and the introduction of the Power Writing programme across schools.

14.      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 indicates that more able pupils are generally achieving well within Vale secondary schools at KS3 except in English.

15.      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 LAs with the CSI ranked last but one.

16.      Comparisons with other LAs indicate that Vale performance ranking fell significantly in 2012 and well below that expected in relation to contributory contextual factors. English (13), science (12) and RWM (13) had particularly low rankings.

17.      The KS 3 Improvement Strategy outlined in this report, provides an overview of the various aspects of school improvement which need to be addressed if overall improvements in standards are to be secured.

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

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

20.      It is suggested that a 3 year timeframe be applied to the action plan, the details of which are to underpin the majority of support programmes implemented in schools during this time.

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

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

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

23.      The 25% retained School Effectiveness Grant (SEG) would be used to resource the action plan. Support would be commissioned.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

24.      None.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

25.      None.

Crime and Disorder Implications

26.      None.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

27.      The Strategy and Plan would apply to all secondary schools in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Corporate/Service Objectives

28.      The Strategy is fully supportive of Corporate Improvement Objectives and of our Vision for Education 2015.

Policy Framework and Budget

29.      This is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

30.      Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

31.      Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

National Implementation Plan for Improvement


Contact Officer

Lynette Jones, Head of School Improvement and Inclusion


Officers Consulted

Meryl Plummer, Senior System Leader

Jeff Loxton, Statistician CSC

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer