Agenda Item No


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Scrutiny Committee [Lifelong Learning]: 18th February 2013


Report of the Chief Learning and Skills Officer


Individual School Progress Meetings


Purpose of the Report

1.             To note Cabinet's request that the Scrutiny Committee invites individual schools, where performance issues have been identified, to a meeting of the Committee and to make proposals for the purpose and format for these meetings.


1.             That Members note the Cabinet request.

2.             That Members consider the proposed purpose and format for these meetings and determine the arrangements to be put in place.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To advise the Committee of Cabinet's request.

2.             To agree arrangements to implement the Cabinet's recommendations that meet the needs of the Scrutiny Committee and local schools.


2.             The Scrutiny Committee has considered a series of reports describing the attainment of pupils attending schools in the Vale.  The reports have described the success of many pupils in many schools, highlighted the further progress that is needed and provided information about the programmes of support and challenge that have been put in place.            

3.             In addition to the information about the programmes of support and challenge that have previously been reported to the Scrutiny Committee, at their meeting on 21st January Cabinet endorsed three further developments:

·         Work is in hand to develop a shared school improvement strategy for the consortium including targets for the consortium as a whole and refreshed school improvement targets for the Vale of Glamorgan.  This will be an important document as it will provide a more detailed framework for the work of the JES, identify the subjects and categories of school that will be prioritised in its work programmes and further enhance the Council's ability to measure JES service performance and improvement progress.  The draft strategy will be available for consideration by the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee in February.

·         Secondly the department is adopting an approach that will seek to increase the accountability of schools for pupil attainment.  Estyn reports and follow-up progress are reported to the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee and school-by-school performance data for secondary schools is also now reported in the public domain.  In order to build on this approach and to ensure that work to tackle weaker performance is supported and that schools are challenged to make accelerated progress, it is proposed that the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee invites the chair of governors and headteacher of individual schools where performance issues have been identified, including schools subject to Estyn follow-up, to a meeting of the Committee.  In the case of schools that are subject to Estyn follow-up, the invitation could follow the publication of the inspection report in order to discuss and endorse the post inspection action plan.  It is recommended that the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee, in consultation with schools, should develop arrangements and a work programme identifying the dates for inviting individual schools to attend meetings.  It should be noted that schools in the Vale that have been subject to special measures or Estyn monitoring have generally made good progress in addressing recommendations and making rapid improvement: this development is intended to build on that record.

·         Thirdly, the Council has powers of intervention which it has not to date been necessary to employ.  Extracts from 'Schools Causing Concern : Guidance for Schools and Local Authorities are attached at Appendix A which provide guidance for local authorities when they are considering intervening in schools causing concern.  The current School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Bill provides a clearer process for school intervention and drives up school improvement through the introduction of statutory guidance.  If in the future circumstances arise when it would be appropriate to do so, Cabinet is invited to endorse their use by the Chief Learning and Skills Officer:  a report would subsequently be made to the Cabinet.

4.             This report refers to the second of the recommendations above considered by Cabinet.        

5.             The following framework has been developed in consultation with representative headteachers on the Headteachers Steering Group at their meeting on 17th January 2013.

Relevant Issues and Options

6.             The following framework is proposed for the Committee's consideration:

7.             The meeting is intended to enable schools to demonstrate through the democratic process their ambition, capacity and commitment to rapid and sustained progress and to identify any barriers that they are facing which could be resolved by the actions of the Council.

8.             The purpose of the meeting is to establish that in relation to a school that is subject to Estyn follow-up after an inspection or is causing serious concern:

·         that the Chair of Governors and headteacher have clear, up to date and authorative plans in place, or in final draft, to address Estyn recommendations or key issues causing concern;

·         that the Chair of Governors and headteacher have put into place arrangements to monitor the implementation of the plan, to evaluate its impact and to make changes to the plan if needed;

·         what progress has been made and what further progress is required in order to fully address the recommendations or key issues.

9.             The Committee is invited to consider whether it wishes to set up a series of panels comprising, say, three members of the Committee, according to availability but always including at least two councillors, to meet with an individual school.  The Chair of Governors and Headteacher would be invited to attend ; a second governor or a second member of the senior management team would also be welcome to attend.  The Committee is asked to consider the extent / basis on which the Cabinet Member might also be involved at such meetings. The meeting would be advised by a member of the Departmental Management Team.  Should the Committee agree the "Panel" approach, it is suggested that (as with the Licensing committee) the 10 elected Members of the Committee should form the "pool" from which panels are drawn.  This would provide maximum flexibility in terms of availability, individual Member involvement and allow any conflicts of interest (e.g. membership of Governing Bodies) to be avoided.  The views of the Committee are sought as to whether the pool should also include the four statutory co-opted members of the Committee. 

10.        It is suggested that Panel meetings be held on a similar basis to Task and Finish Groups in that meetings would not be open to the public, but the outcome of the meeting and any conclusions / recommendations of the Panel would be incorporated in a report to the Committee itself, for consideration under Part I or II of an agenda as appropriate.

11.        The meetings would be timetabled to last for up to two hours but would normally last for one hour.  Meetings would normally take place at the school in the early evening.

12.        The school would be asked to provide the post inspection action plan and any progress reports seven days before the scheduled meeting.  These would be circulated to the Panel, together with the Estyn report, five days before the meeting.

13.        Following introductions, the school would be invited to highlight the key points from the circulated documents relevant to the purpose of the meeting.  The Panel would ask questions in order to secure any further clarity and exemplification.

14.        A record of the meeting would be made to include any recommendations for further action by the school or council.  Initially, the Head of Democratic Services has agreed to provide officer support, but it has been agreed to review the Panel arrangements, including officer support, after 12 months.  Another approach (as occurs in some Authorities) would be for one of the Panel members to take the lead in documenting the Panel's findings and reporting back on such.  The findings of the Panel would be available for consideration by the Scrutiny Committee and, (subject to Access to information requirements), the Governing Body.

15.        It is suggested that the schedule is developed on a termly basis in consultation with the Chair of the Scrutiny Committee in order to take account of any changes with up to two meetings a term if needed. 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

16.        To be operated within existing resources and reviewed after 12 months.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

17.        There are no sustainability and climate change implications arising from this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

18.        There are no legal implications arising from this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

19.        There are no crime and disorder implications arising from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

20.        There are no equal opportunity implications arising from this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

21.        Improving outcomes and wellbeing for all learners.

Policy Framework and Budget

22.        The recommendations in this report are within the existing policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

23.        Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

24.        Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers


Contact Officer

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer

Officers Consulted

Headteacher Steering Group

Head of Democratic Services

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer