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Agenda Item No. 13

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning): 22nd September, 2014

 

Report of the Director of Learning and Skills

 

Individual School Progress Meeting

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To provide the Committee with an update on the progress meeting held at Eagleswell Primary School undertaken by a Panel of three Members of the Committee.

Recommendations

1.         That the Scrutiny Panel findings as detailed in paragraph 18 of this report be accepted.

2.         That the follow up visit to the school takes place later in the year by the Panel Members, sometime during the autumn term, 2014.

3.         That this report be referred to Cabinet for consideration and approval.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To apprise the Committee of the findings of the Scrutiny Panel.

2.         To monitor and undertake a follow up visit.

3.         For Cabinet consideration.

Background

2.         In February 2013 the Scrutiny Committee agreed to establish School Progress Panels consisting of three Members, this support approach had been agreed in order to seek to increase the accountability of schools for pupil attainment.  To date Panel Members have visited four schools namely Llantwit Major, St. Cyres, Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools. 

3.         Following a reference from Cabinet on 20th April the Committee was invited to establish a Progress Panel in order to ascertain the progress made in respect of Eagleswell Primary School in Llantwit Major. 

Relevant Issues and Options

4.         The School Progress Panel Meeting for Eagleswell Primary School took place on 15th July, 2014 and comprised of Councillor N.P. Hodges (Chairman of the Panel), Councillor Mrs. M.E.J. Birch and Mr. L. Kellaway (Co-opted Member) with Councillor C.P.J. Elmore (Cabinet Member for Children's Services), Mrs. K. Jacobs (Acting Headteacher), Mrs. J. Vickers (Chairman of Governors), Mr. D. Mutlow (School Governor), Ms. J. Hill (Director of Learning and Skills), Mrs. L. Jones (Head of School Improvement and Inclusion), Mr. J. Comissiong (Challenge Advisor) and Mr. G.J. Davies (Scrutiny Support Officer) in attendance. 

5.         Following the Estyn Inspection in February 2014 the school had been placed within the 'follow up' category, stipulating that significant improvement was required.  The Estyn Inspectors had made several recommendations regarding the curriculum of the school and how the Senior Leadership Team (SLT) of the school operated.  The recommendations being to:

  • improve the standards of extended writing in English and across the curriculum
  • improve standards in Welsh in Key Stage 2
  • ensure that the Key Stage 2 curriculum meets statutory requirements
  • use existing good practice in the school to improve the quality of teaching
  • ensure that senior leaders address under performance robustly
  • distribute leadership roles and responsibilities effectively and hold leaders to account.

6.         A Post Inspection Action Plan (PIAP) has been drafted by the School, detailing how the school planned to improve and address the recommendations made by Estyn. The PIAP included a monitoring schedule showing the improvement actions and a record of the frequency that these were to be assessed. Also contained within the PIAP was a risk register, the purpose of which was to monitor some specific concerns from within the school. 

7.         Under statutory powers the Local Authority has appointed two additional Governors to the school in order to strengthen the work and support of the Governing Body.

8.         Due to ill-health of the substantive Headteacher, an Acting Head has been appointed secured from an agency on an interim basis, this commenced in May 2014. 

9.         A main concern highlighted during the Estyn Inspection had been in relation to the proper completion of teachers' planning.  Teachers' planning, usually completed on a fortnightly basis, is seen as a vital part of medium and long term curriculum planning. An important element of teachers' planning includes strong emphasis on the needs and abilities of pupils on an individual basis.

10.      The Acting Headteacher informed the panel that during the inspection the school had been unable to document and evidence proper teacher planning and she advised the Panel of the issue of teacher's planning being completed in a retrospective basis. This led to concerns amongst Inspectors regarding the role and responsibility of the Senior Leadership Team and in particular regarding the monitoring of teachers' planning and the ability of the school to progress the development of its pupils.

11.      In order to address the deficiencies in respect of teachers' planning the school, has ensured that planning was undertaken on a forward looking basis, was completed under a new common format and was regularly collected for evaluation.  Teachers now received individual feedback about their planning, which is sent to them in writing.  The SLT of the school now regularly monitored teacher planning files and regular discussions were being held between teachers and senior leaders.

12.      The Panel raised concerns regarding the consistent completion of teachers' planning, as some teachers undertook planning on a fortnightly basis while others completed planning weekly. The Panel was also concerned with the reticence of some staff in co-operating with the actions highlighted within the school's PIAP. 

13.      In addressing the issues regarding the roles and responsibilities of the Senior Leadership Team, the school had reviewed the structure of the SLT and roles and responsibilities have been defined.  The school is still in the process of finalising the job descriptions for all staff members but this would be concluded by September.  The Chairman of Governors welcomed the appointment of the two new Local Authority Governors and they fully recognised the help and the support that they have brought with them. 

14.      In order to improve the standards of extended writing in English and across the curriculum, the school has compiled baseline data for every pupil and  this enabled the school to track and monitor individual progress for each pupil.  The tracking of pupil progress is centred around the 'INCERTS' system with data analysed on a termly basis so as to identify under achieving pupils and the areas where these pupils needed to improve. Intervention strategies for under achieving pupils now included Foundation Leaders meeting with each teacher in order to identify pupils requiring extra support. The school use the Big Write method to analyse the stages of development of pupils, while the introduction of pupil 'I Can' statements was still at an early stage. Teacher feedback marking was inconsistent; this was an area that the Governing Body Monitoring Panel would review and address.  The school has been able to acquire the support of a consultant to review the moderation of writing assessments and the school had also created a portfolio which showed examples of assessments completed by pupils up to Year 6.  An evaluation of the coverage of genres in reading and writing has been undertaken and this has been linked to curriculum plans.  The school has also conducted a staff training session to improve pupil's sentence, punctuation and letter formation at Foundation Phase. 

15.      To address Estyn's recommendation to raise the standards of Welsh at Key Stage 2 the school has undertaken an audit of provision and the representative from the Central South Consortium had been supporting the Learning Support Teacher assigned to Welsh.  A baseline for each pupil has been established in order to provide a proper starting point.  The school has also implemented a 10 minute period per day for the teaching of Welsh and this also included a 'Phrase of the Week'.  To improve curriculum planning the school had undertaken a mapping exercise and this has resulted in additional topics being included where they best fitted in.  There was also a greater level of consideration of Welsh within Maths and literacy and extra training had been provided to teachers and support staff and the Welsh in Education Officer from the Central South Consortium was assisting the school to improve this.  The school has also identified the need to improve teaching assessments as it was considered that these were not substantially robust. 

16.      The Panel was advised that to ensure that the Key Stage 2 curriculum met statutory requirements the school has reviewed the literacy and numeracy framework and the cornerstone curriculum which was currently used within the school.  The Learning Support Teacher was actively working on identifying improvements to the curriculum, but it was not at present easy to evidence significant progress.  The school has reviewed long term, medium term and short term planning and a common format for teacher planning was now in place.  The school had also undertaken half term book reviews of literacy and Maths. 

17.      Estyn had judged some teaching in the school to be unsatisfactory and the Panel was advised that in order to improve the quality of teaching the school had looked at its teaching and learning policy and its criteria for evaluating teaching. A baseline of teaching has been established and the school has been able to analyse the outcomes following the baseline evaluation, which has highlighted strengths and areas requiring improvement. Support and peer coaching has been reviewed and termly observations and climate walks introduced.

18.      The Panel's overall conclusion was that it welcomed the schools acknowledgement of the need to make substantive changes to address the Estyn recommendations and to make significant improvements.  They noted the plans to address the recommendations, including the analysis of risk and detailed monitoring arrangements.  The school was correct to identify the sickness of the substantive Headteacher as a major risk which would need to be managed actively.  The Local Authority's support plan was comprehensive, included support from the Consortium and the Council and the Panel welcomed the appointment of additional governors and the positive approach the Chair of Governors of the school had taken to the appointments.  The Panel recognised that there were some examples of early progress to implement the Plan, but they considered that much remained to be done.  The Panel, taking into account the identified risks and the early stage of development planned to reconvene this Panel next term.  The Panel will take into account the recorded progress in the first part of the autumn term to schedule this meeting. 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

19.      Within existing resources where the role of School Progress meetings being reviewed after 12 months.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

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

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

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

Crime and Disorder Implications

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

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

23.      There are no equal opportunities implications arising from this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

24.      Improving outcomes and wellbeing for all learners.

Policy Framework and Budget

25.      The recommendations of the report are within existing policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

26.      Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

27.      Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

Not applicable. 

Contact Officer

Gareth Davies, Scrutiny Support Officer, telephone 01446 709249 

Officers Consulted

Head of School Improvement and Inclusion

Head of Democratic Services

Legal Services

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill

Director of Learning and Skills