Agenda Item No. 9
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning): 17th March 2014
Report of the Chief Learning and Skills Officer
Individual Schools' Progress Meetings
Purpose of the Report
1. To provide the Committee with an update on the progress meetings at Llantwit Major Comprehensive School undertaken by a Panel of three members of the Committee.
1. That the Scrutiny Panel findings as detailed in paragraphs 15 and 16 of this report be accepted.
2. That it be noted that the Panel have requested details of the March examination results in order to continue to monitor progress.
3. That a follow up visit to the school take place later in the year by the Panel, if appropriate, following the GCSE results in August 2014.
4. That this report be referred to Cabinet for consideration and approval.
Reasons for the 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.
2. In February 2013 the Scrutiny Committee 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.
3. 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 and provided details of the support programme that had been put in place to assist the process.
4. Following the re-assessment of the examination results, 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.
5. As a result of the above, a letter was then 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.
6. The Chief Learning and Skills Officer had received a response from the Chairman of Governors which acknowledged the challenges faced by the school and which also referred to the progress that had been made on many fronts in 2012/13 and the current arrangements that had been put in place for a newly established Governor Monitoring Group to monitor performance.
Relevant Issues and Options
7. In light of the above, and following a recommendation from the April 2013 meeting that a follow up visit be undertaken by the Panel, a further meeting was then 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.
8. Since the results in August 2013, interventions had also been targeted not only at Year 11 but throughout the school in order to build a sustainable approach. Although improvement had been secured at Key Stage 4 in every area, this had been insufficient. Early entry for Maths had showed an increase in the percentage from the previous year, but the external marks for English are awaited and are due in March 2014. Data was also continually interrogated and evaluated and the read across process had identified how many of the pupils required support to improve in either English or Maths and what support was required by the school to secure this.
9. The Governing Body 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. The Governors met half termly around key dates, with Governors also being linked to departments in order to develop their expertise further. Of note was the fact that notwithstanding Maths and English, all other subject areas were also being assessed for performance in the same way. At key stage 4 it was noted that improvement had been secured in every area and that some significant improvements had taken place following the implementation of various initiatives but further improvements were still required.
10. 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 and 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.
11. 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.
12. 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.
13. The Deputy Headteacher had also been involved in a published programme following a review undertaken in another local authority and the skills and lessons learned from this had been transferred to Llantwit Major. Every single member of staff was monitored during lessons and measured against Estyn ranked criteria. This identified any further support that was required and assistance that could be provided to other teachers. The school had also developed initiatives to raise the profile of the student voice and standard questionnaires and department surveys had been undertaken throughout the year with the same questions being asked throughout all subject areas.
14. Of note was the fact that the capacity for leadership was being developed across members of the Senior Management Team in order that successive years have sustainable capacity. From the Early Entry results, the controlled assessments for improvements and the impact of course work, the view of the System Leader was that the school was addressing all the issues that could be attributed to gaining the minimum targeted examination results. Furthermore the Head of School Improvement and Inclusion was of the view that there was a reasonable measure of confidence in the school securing the minimum expectations for Maths, although English would still present a challenge to the school. However, it was important to note that the English Department had implemented a range of strategies which it was hoped would secure improvements in performance.
15. The Panel concluded that they welcomed the measures that the school had taken to improve performance, including robust data collection, interrogation and analysis and was pleased to note that leadership across all departments had been strengthened and that this would be continued. They encouraged the school to develop further 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 Panel welcomed the role of Governors in the challenge and accountability of the process and the setting up of a Governor task group to challenge performance. In conclusion they stated that they had a high level of confidence in the work of the school. The targets for the school that had been agreed with the Authority were minimum targets and they would review the results against the targets in due course. Aware of the March examination results the Panel agreed to continue to monitor progress by requesting details of the results in due course.
16. The Panel also recommended that a follow up visit to the school take place, if appropriate, following the GCSE results in 2014 and that the offer by the school for members to undertake learning walks was welcomed which the Panel may wish to take up.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
17. Within existing resources with the role of school progress meetings to be reviewed after 12 months.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
18. There are no sustainability and climate change implications arising from this report.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
19. There are no legal implications arising from this report.
Crime and Disorder Implications
20. There are no crime and disorder implications arising from this report.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
21. There are no equal opportunities implications arising from this report.
22. Improving outcomes and wellbeing for all learners.
Policy Framework and Budget
23. The recommendations in the report are within the existing policy framework and budget.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
24. Not applicable.
Relevant Scrutiny Committee
25. Lifelong Learning
Report to Scrutiny Committee: 24th June, 2013
Karen Bowen, tel (01446) 709856
Head of School Improvement and Inclusion
Head of Democratic Services
Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer