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Agenda Item No.

 

THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL

 

CABINET: 28TH MARCH, 2014

 

REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (LIFELONG LEARNING): 17TH MARCH, 2014

 

 

967    INDIVIDUAL SCHOOLS’ PROGRESS MEETINGS (CLSO) –

 

The Committee received an update report on the progress meetings that had been held at Llantwit Major Comprehensive School undertaken by a Panel of three members of the Committee. 

 

In February 2013 the Scrutiny Committee had agreed to establish School Progress Panels consisting of three members, this approach being agreed in order to seek to increase the accountability of schools for pupil attainment.

 

The Chairman, in presenting the report, advised that in April 2013 the Panel subsequently undertook a visit to Llantwit Major Comprehensive School where they were provided with a competent description of the analysis of work to be undertaken to fully diagnose and address the barriers to high attainment that had been faced following the results in August 2012.  At that time the school had presented a very positive outlook for GCSE examination performance in 2013 to the Panel and provided details of the support programme that had been put in place to assist the process. 

 

Following the re-assessment of the examination results in August 2013, the proportion of pupils achieving higher grades in English had increased but this still meant that the school remained in the bottom quartile.  The Authority was therefore concerned that the standards of pupil performance were unacceptably low when compared with standards attained by pupils at comparable schools.  However, of note was the fact that performance at Key Stage 3 had improved materially in 2013 and was now in the top quartile compared to similar schools.  The school had also commissioned continuing support in the interim to improve performance. 

 

As a result of the performance of the school, a letter was sent by the Chief Learning and Skills Officer to the Chair of Governors and Headteacher, in October 2013, advising that if the school did not make sufficient progress during the year, the Chief Learning and Skills Officer would have to recommend to the Council that it exercises its powers of intervention in the governance and management arrangements of the school in accordance with the Schools Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013. 

 

The Chief Learning and Skills Officer had received a response from the Chairman of Governors which had acknowledged the challenges faced by the school and which also referred to the progress that had been made on many fronts in 2012/13 together with the current arrangements that had been put in place for a newly established Governor Monitoring Group to monitor performance.

 

A further meeting of the Panel was therefore held in January 2014 with the Headteacher reporting to Members the commitment of the school to take action and the positive initiatives that had been introduced to date.  The Governing Body of the school had also established a Governor Monitoring Group which reported to the Curriculum Committee and ultimately to the Full Governing Body in order to develop expertise and encourage improvement within the school.  At this time Members noted that Key Stage 4 improvement had been secured in every area and the significant improvement that had taken place following the implementation of various initiatives but that further improvements were still required. 

 

In referring to initiatives and strategies that had been identified, the Headteacher advised that new schemes of work across the school had been implemented, extra lessons across the school introduced, including two extra one hour lessons per fortnight in both Years 10 and 11, early mocks with mock moderation ensured standards were secure and allowed for discussion for the impact of teaching.  Post analysis of mocks was also being undertaken with feedback sessions being held with every member of the department. Discussion also took place on the impact on teaching strategies which identified target groups for January examinations and any amendments to entries.  There were team teaching and support groups and revision sessions for language examinations from September 2013 with close liaison to improve attendance and focus on key target pupils.  Notwithstanding these there were also revision sessions, PSE days and carousel teaching of exam skills.  A Sunday revision session had also reported an attendance of 92 pupils. 

 

The strategies implemented for Maths were similar to those reported for English, but also included: the use of Year 11 form time for additional Maths delivery, after school and lunch time and Sunday revision sessions, pre-examination revision days and half days, half termly whole year past paper assessments, parental revision support workshop, new assessment sheets in books to give additional information to parents, improved website resources and additional teaching staff to target Year 11 small target groups.  The target groups also received extra interventions from Education London, small group provision mentoring and additional revision. 

 

For level 2+ (inclusive English and Maths) a target group consisting of 24 students had also been set up which had received extra interventions from Education London, small group provision mentoring and additional revision.  The school had also taken measures to improve Key Stage 3 performance, levels 5+, 6+ and 7+ and FFT.  A number of initiatives had also been secured by the school from the Central South Consortium. 

 

The Chairman in referring to paragraphs 15 and 16 of the report highlighted that the Panel’s overall conclusion was that they welcomed the measures that the school had taken to improve performance, including robust data collection, interrogation analysis and had been pleased to note that leadership across all departments had been strengthened and that this would be continued.  The Panel however encouraged the school to develop resilience and succession planning within the leadership team and looked forward to seeing that all the initiatives for improvement were fully implemented and thoroughly evaluated.  The role of Governors in the challenge and accountability process and the setting up of a Governor Task Group to challenge performance was welcomed, and were aware that the March examination results were due and would continue to monitor progress by requesting details of the results in due course. 

 

The Committee, aware of the recent English language examination results in Wales that had received substantial press coverage, were advised by the Head of Service that the WJEC and Welsh Government would be conducting a full review of the recent examination process with the intention that a report be published at the end of March 2014.  Headteachers had made their representations in respect of these examinations with it being noted that the examination paper and specification had changed and that there had been an increased focus on technical ability. 

 

The Chairman took the opportunity to thank the officers, the Panel Members and the schools for their involvement and support in the work of the Performance Panels, advising that two other schools had also recently been visited with the intention being that the reports of those visits progress be reported to the Committee as appropriate.

 

Following the discussion it was

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Scrutiny Panel findings as detailed in paragraphs 15 and 16 of the report be accepted.

 

(2)       T H A T it be noted that the Panel had requested details of the March examination results in order to continue to monitor progress.

 

(3)       T H A T a follow up visit to the school takes place later in the year by the Panel, if appropriate, following the GCSE results in August 2014.

 

(4)       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)       In recognition of the Scrutiny Panel's intention to monitor progress.

 

(3)       To monitor and undertake a follow up visit if appropriate.

 

(4)       For Cabinet consideration.

 

 

Attached as Appendix - Report for Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning): 17th March, 2014

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