Agenda Item No. 6
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning): 22nd June 2015
Report of the Director of Learning and Skills
Individual School Performance Progress Panel Meeting
Purpose of the Report
1. To provide the Committee with an update of the School Progress Panel meeting held at Eagleswell Primary School by the Panel of three Members of the Committee.
1. That the Scrutiny Progress Panel findings as detailed in paragraphs 30 and 31 of the report be noted.
2. That the Scrutiny Committee notes that following an Estyn monitoring visit on 23 April the school, on the basis of the progress that had been made, was removed from the list of schools requiring significant improvement.
3. That the report be referred to Cabinet for consideration and / or approval.
Reasons for the Recommendations
1. To apprise the Committee of the findings of the Progress Panel.
2. To apprise the Committee of the outcome of the Estyn monitoring visit.
3. For Cabinet consideration.
2. School Progress Panels consisting of three Members were established in order to seek to increase the accountability of schools for pupil attainment.
Relevant Issues and Options
3. The School Progress Panel meeting for Eagleswell Primary School comprised of Councillors N.P. Hodges (Chairman of the Panel), Mrs. M.E.J. Birch and Mr. L. Kellaway (Co-opted Member of the Scrutiny Committee); Councillor C.P.J. Elmore (Cabinet Member for Children's Services and Schools), Mrs. K. Jacobs (Headteacher), Mr. D. Mutlow (Representative of the Governing Body), Ms. J. Hill (Director of Learning and Skills), Mr. M. Glavin (Head of School Improvement and Inclusion), Mrs. M. Plummer (Lead Officer for School Improvement), Mr. J. Comissiong (Challenge Advisor) and Mr. G. Davies (Scrutiny Support Officer).
4. The meeting had been convened as a result of the recommendation of the Panel in July 2014 to revisit the school in order to monitor progress. The Panel meeting was, therefore, an opportunity for the school to demonstrate through the democratic process its ambition and commitment to rapid and sustained progress and to identify any barriers that the school may be facing which could be resolved by the actions of the Council.
5. At the Panel meeting back in July 2014, the Chairman advised that at that time the Panel was encouraged by the school's plans to address the Estyn recommendations. The Panel considered that the school's plans had been turned into an active process of work and the Panel recognised that there was clear evidence to show improvements had been made to the working of the Senior Leadership Team and around the role of the Governing Body in challenging the school effectively. At that time, the Panel also noted the school's actions to improve teachers' planning and recognised that the school was still addressing issues around the quality of teaching and acknowledged that plans were in place.
6. One of the main issues highlighted by the Estyn inspectors during their visit to the school in February 2014, was in relation to the proper completion of teachers' planning. Estyn had recognised that this was being completed in a retrospective manner and this led to concerns that there were inadequate monitoring arrangements in place by the Senior Leadership Team.
7. In terms of teachers' planning, at the Panel meeting, the Acting Head Teacher explained that the school had made a number of improvements. These now included the submission of all teachers' planning in advance on a fortnightly basis for the purpose of monitoring. Also, individual feedback is provided to all teachers by the Acting Headteacher, who would highlight any areas of concern or development.
8. In order to improve standards of extended writing in English and across the curriculum, it was reported that the latest monitoring report identified that reasonable progress had been made within the school. The school was also confident that all of the new systems and processes brought in were embedded and that real progress had been made. Two external audits by the Central South Consortium had been undertaken in order to evaluate the teaching of English within the school and this had included a review of specific areas such as marking. An external moderation of 'Big Write' assessments had been undertaken and this had been helpful in order to create a baseline starting point for all pupils. A second external moderation of the assessments recently undertaken identified that there were some inconsistencies in teaching. The external moderators were working with the school and providing support and advice in order to improve this situation.
9. Furthermore, the school had undertaken 'Learner Voice' surveys among its pupils in order to ascertain children’s learning and to collate the views and opinions of the children within the school. A portfolio of extended writing across the curriculum had been developed and each pupil had devised an individual 'Big Write' profile. A moderation file, which had been externally moderated, had been collated by the school and this showed examples of accurate levels of achievement. Also, pupils’ 'I Can' targets had been devised in which the pupils had been encouraged to undertake more self-assessment so as to identify areas that they needed to work on.
10. Another area of development within the school had been the creation of curriculum maps, these were regarded has being of particular importance in order to improve the writing skills of pupils within the school. The curriculum map had also been seen as an important development that provided teachers with a starting reference point which had improved planning and the way that lessons have been structured.
11. With regard to the school’s future plans to improve standards of extended writing in English, the Acting Head Teacher advised that this would include increased external specialist support, particularly for two classes. There will also be a review of provision maps for interventions for pupils with additional learning needs. The Senior Leadership Team would continue to monitor the use of 'I Can' pupil targets and formative marking. There will be more explicit evidence of differentiation in some classes and there would be an increased focus on pupils’ accuracy, handwriting and the use of vocabulary.
12. Referring to Estyn's second recommendation and the school's actions to improve standards in Welsh at Key Stage 2, the Acting Headteacher explained to the Panel that following the recent evaluation of the school's Post Inspection Action Plan, progress was been deemed to be good.
13. The school had recognised that lesson observations was an important tool that helped to identify whether teachers were correctly using incidental Welsh and to ensure that all classes had ten minutes of Welsh taught each week. Also through lesson observations, the school identified that the teaching of Welsh in respect of planning was taking place in 100% of cases. Athrawes Fro have undertaken Welsh learning walks and a Welsh advisor from the Central South Consortium had also been able to undertake lesson observations. From these, it was identified that the school had shown good progress and effective use of resources.
14. Next steps for the school aimed at improving the standards of Welsh at Key Stage 2, included greater focus around the use of incidental Welsh in the class room with further training and support feedback from the Central South Consortium's Welsh advisor. The school also planned to increase the amount of good practice being shared throughout the school with further development of individual pupil 'I Can' targets undertaken.
15. In referring to recommendation (3), the school had judged that good progress had been made in ensuring that at Key Stage 2, the curriculum met statutory requirements. Improvement initiatives included greater emphasis on Maths within the classroom and the development of curriculum maps to ensure that numeracy and writing skills were properly planned for in all subjects. The school had realigned timetables in order to free up time during the afternoon in order to focus on the Foundation subjects. Weekly planning is now submitted for fortnightly monitoring and this had been triangulated with the 'Book Looks' and the Learner Voice surveys.
16. The school's future plans to improve the curriculum will include the mapping of cross curriculum links for Mathematics and cornerstone topics within the literacy and numeracy framework. The school will aim to improve the tracking around the literacy and numeracy framework and will continue to monitor the consistency of marking. There would also be explicit evidence of 'differentiation' within some classes.
17. In querying as to exactly how 'differentiation' within classes worked, the Panel was advised that this related to careful teacher’s plans in planning for all abilities within the class. For this, preparation in planning the lesson was split up in order to cover the ability range of pupils in their class in all aspects, such as writing and literacy. Teachers would need to identify opportunities for literacy and writing within subjects, such as history and geography at the level to suit the ability of the individual. This would help support pupils to improve their overall writing skills. The Acting Head teacher stated however, that within the school it was not always clear within planning whether 'differentiation' was taking place. Further to this, the Challenge Advisor stated that increased focus on data now showed that the school was making improvements and that the quality of teacher’s planning had progressed.
18. Referring to the needs to use existing good practice to improve the quality of teaching, the Acting Headteacher advised the Panel that progress within the school had been deemed to be reasonable. Actions undertaken to improve the quality of teaching included the approval of new policies for teaching and learning. Verbal and written monitoring feedback is provided to teachers and new performance management targets have been set. The school had brought forward lesson observations in order to evaluate the situation within the school and to be able address more quickly any issues identified.
19. The school has devised an internal Excel analysis spreadsheet in relation to lesson observations, used to identify and track the training needs of teachers and co-coaching between teachers has been introduced.
20. The Panel noted that the Acting Head teacher had brought in the 'focus of the week' scheme in order to discuss and question specific issues highlighted. These are weekly meetings between teachers that usually last between 10 and 15 minutes. The meetings would include an open dialogue and discussion around one specific aspect of the quality of teaching within the school. For example, this could be in relation to teachers marking or around how the school challenges its pupils. An important part of these meetings was the need to identify any training needs or areas that need further development.
21. The Acting Head teacher had also brought in weekly professional development meetings which provided the school with an opportunity to focus on writing skills, teacher marking and accurate assessments and these are another way for the school to discuss and extract the training needs of the staff.
22. The Panel noted that the next steps that would be employed by the school to improve the quality of teaching would include the close supervision of three teachers within the school who had been identified has requiring extra monitoring and support. The school would also procure a further external special support for two classes and would also further develop co-coaching for all staff.
23. To ensure the improved performance of the senior leadership team, the school advised that all job descriptions had been agreed and signed off. Weekly senior leadership team meetings were now taking place and robust performance management targets had been set.
24. The school had recognised the importance for teachers in tracking pupil performance and feedback is given to staff in order that they fully appreciated their monitoring role. The school has created shared evidence files with contributions from all teachers in order to show the progress made against implementing the Post Inspection Action Plan. For this, on a half termly basis, the Governing Body will receive an update report. The Panel were further asked to note that the senior leadership team were now working as a team and adhering to the monitoring schedules, the Post Inspection Action Plan and to the agreed new protocols.
25. Future improvement objectives aimed at improving further the performance of the senior leadership team included the introduction of subject leaders and an improved focus on the impact of actions on learning to address underperformance. The school would also undertake a comprehensive review of performance management sometime during February 2015. Finally, it had been recognised within the school, for the need to properly monitor the impact upon standards by the teachers and for all members of the Senior Leadership Team to work as a team and to be able to provide appropriate feedback.
26. The Panel, in referring to the plans to progress the curriculum within the school and in particular to the tracking of the Literacy and Numeracy Framework, queried as to how and when would this be progressed and asked whether the school needed any extra support to achieve this. In response, the Panel noted that the situation in respect of the Literacy and Numeracy Framework was that the school was developing the oral and writing skills of the pupils. The school would be using the Cornerstone system in order to track pupil development and to highlight aspects within the Literacy and Numeracy Framework that needed to be covered. Also, the school had been able to acquire the services of a Literacy and Numeracy Framework consultant from the Centre for British Teaches (CfBT) although this was the second such appointment as the previous consultant did not provide the services required.
27. The Panel was keen for the Head of School Improvement and Inclusion to look at this issue for the school and for any additional support around the framework to be provided.
28. In answer to the Panel’s query whether enough support had been provided by the Council, the Acting Head teacher stated that a lot of support had been delivered, most of which had impacted positively on the school. She praised the support and expertise of the Challenge Advisor in being able to point the school in the right direction and she thanked the Lead Officer for School Improvement for her very good advice particularly in relation to HR issues. The Acting Head teacher also stated that she had no issue in asking for any further support or advice from the Education Service. She also mentioned how helpful and challenging the two newly appointed LA Governors had been.
29. The Panel questioned whether good progress within Welsh would be maintained. In reply the Challenger Adviser stated that the school did not previously track the progress of pupils effectively and that now a tracking system had been developed and this had made a marked improvement in respect of the teaching of Welsh.
30. Following consideration of all the evidence, the Panel was encouraged by the school’s plans to address the Estyn recommendations. The Panel regarded that school’s plans had been turned into an active process of work. The Panel recognised that there was clear evidence that improvements had been made to the working of Senior Leadership Team and around the role of Governing Body in challenging the school effectively.
31. The Panel noted the school’s actions to improve teachers' planning and recognised that the school was still addressing the issue around the quality of teaching and the Panel acknowledge that plans were in place to address this.
32. Since the Panel's visit, on the 23rd April 2015, following its own re-visit to the school, Esytn announced that Eagleswell Primary School had been removed from the list of schools requiring significant improvement. Estyn had judged that the school had made "strong progress" in a number of key areas.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
33. Within existing resources with the role of school progress meetings being reviewed.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
34. There are no sustainability and climate change implications arising from this report.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
35. There are no legal implications arising from this report.
Crime and Disorder Implications
36. There are no crime and disorder implications arising from this report.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
37. There are no equal opportunities implications arising from this report.
38. Improving outcomes and wellbeing for all learners.
Policy Framework and Budget
39. The recommendations of the report are within existing policy framework and budget.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
40. Not applicable
Relevant Scrutiny Committee
41. Lifelong Learning
Mr G.Davies, Scrutiny Support Officer, Tel 01446 709249
Head of School Improvement and Inclusion
Head of Democratic Services
Jennifer Hill, Director of Learning and Skills