LEARNING AND CULTURE SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 12th February, 2018.

 

Present:  Councillor L. Burnett (Chairman); Councillors B.T. Gray, N.P. Hodges, M.J.G. Morgan, Mrs. J.M. Norman and Ms. S.D. Perkes.

 

Co-opted Members: Dr. C. Brown (Parent Governor – Secondary Sector), Mr. P. Burke (Roman Catholic Church) and Mrs. J. Lynch-Wilson (Parent Governor – Primary Sector).

 

Also present:  Councillor R.A. Penrose (Cabinet Member for Learning and Culture).

 

 

687     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillor A.D Hampton (Vice-Chairman); Councillors M. Lloyd and Mrs. M. Wright.

 

 

688     MINUTES – 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 22nd January, 2018 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

689     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

690     IMPACT OF WORK IN THE CENTRAL SOUTH CONSORTIUM’S BUSINESS PLAN ON SCHOOLS IN THE REGION AND THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN –

 

Mike Glavin, the Managing Director of the Central South Consortium, presented the report, advising that the service delivered challenge and support on behalf of five Local Authorities governed through a Joint Committee of Cabinet Members from each authority.   The Scrutiny Committees in each of the Local Authorities also invited the Lead Officer for the Authority to report on the performance of the schools in the Authority and the contribution of the Consortium at any stage during the year.

 

In referring to the Consortium’s Business Plan for April 2017 to March 2018, Mr. Glavin advised that there were five priorities: 

  • Improving outcomes for vulnerable learners through partnership working;
  • Developing school-to-school working to deliver curriculum reform;
  • Developing leadership, governance and workforce reform;
  • Rapid and sustainable intervention;
  • Developing effectiveness and efficiency in Central South Consortium. 

The business plan set out how the Consortium aimed to deliver the priorities through effective school self-evaluation and improvement planning, underpinned by building capacity in schools to support other schools through the continued development of the “Central South Wales Challenge”.  “Drive Teams” had also been established  made up from senior leaders from across the Consortium who ensured that the operational plans for each priority were implemented and that the impact was measured. 

 

The table at paragraph 5 to the report identified outcomes against targets and previous outcomes.  However, Mr. Glavin informed the Committee that it should be noted that Welsh Government had introduced changes to the Key Stage 4 performance measures in 2016-17 which affected any possible comparisons that may be made against previous data.  Of note was the fact that in 2012 standards at every Key Stage had improved faster than the national average and in 2017 the region continued to show strong improvement and was above national average for Key Stages, Foundation Phase, Key Stage 2 for the second consecutive year and Key Stage 3 above the national average for all measures with the exception of Mathematics, which was within 0.1 percentage points (pp) of the national figure. 

 

In referring specifically to performance in Vale of Glamorgan Council schools the Managing Director informed committee :

 

Foundation Phase

 

At Foundation Phase, the proportion of pupils aged between 5 and 7 years old who achieved the expected level (Outcome 5 or above) for the Foundation Phase Outcome Indicator increased by 0.2pp from 91.2% to 91.4%.  This remained above the Central South Consortium and Welsh averages and was the highest in the region.

 

Key Stage 2

 

At Key Stage 2, the proportion of pupils aged between 7 and 11 years old, achieving at least the expected level (Level 4 or above) for the Core Subject Indicator had increased by 0.8pp from 92.7% to 93.5% and was the highest in the region and Wales.

 

Key Stage 3

 

At Key Stage 3, the proportion of pupils aged between 11 and 14 years old achieving at least the expected level (Level 5 or above) for the Core Subject Indicator had increased by 0.6pp from 91.2% to 91.8% and remained above the Central South Consortium and Welsh averages and the highest in the region.

 

Key Stage 4

 

At Key Stage 4 the changes to the courses and exam specifications meant the outcomes from these GCSEs could not be compared to those of previous years, particularly in Mathematics and Welsh / English.  In 2017, the changes to the GCSE specifications had disproportionally influenced the achievement of many pupils who suffered from socio-economic disadvantage.  Each of the schools had undertaken a thorough analysis of results to identify where the lower than expected outcomes were as a result of these changes and where they were a result of specific issues in their own schools in order to plan for 2017-2018.  Overall, the performance in the Level 2 threshold, including English and Mathematics, decreased by 6.7pp to 60.4%.  This remained the highest in the region and ranked the Vale of Glamorgan above the indicative position of fifth when compared to other Local Authorities.

 

The Senior Challenge Advisor, Morwen Hudson, then took the Committee through paragraphs 16 to 22 of the report which reflected further specific details in relation to Vale of Glamorgan schools.

 

Nine schools had been inspected during 2016 - 2017: 

  • Of the nine schools, four had been asked to write excellent practice case studies these being Ysgol Y Deri, Llansannor CiW Primary, Ysgol Gynradd Gwaun-y-Nant and Palmerston Primary School.  Only one school (St. Richard Gwyn RC School) was judged as adequate and placed in a follow up category;
  • Albert Primary, St. Andrew Major CiW Primary, Ysgol Pen y Garth and Rhws Primary were all removed from Local Authority monitoring;
  • Ysgol Gymraeg Dewi Sant was removed from Estyn monitoring and Barry Comprehensive School was removed from Significant Improvement;
  • There were currently two schools in the Vale of Glamorgan requiring Estyn follow up which were St. Richard Gwyn (Estyn Review) and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School (Significant Improvement). 

Other support provided by the Consortium to schools in the Vale of Glamorgan was further detailed in paragraph 20 of the report and that 27 schools, comprising of the primary and secondary sectors within the Vale, had accessed professional development programmes provided by the Hub schools across the region. 

 

A number of schools had been identified as Welsh Government Pioneer Schools, with others being referred to as Lead Practitioners.  14 schools in the Vale had been part of pathfinder pairings, seven schools being the supported schools and ten schools being the lead schools.  Path finder schools were where two schools worked together.

 

The Consortium had invested heavily in leadership provision in the 2016-2017 year. For Vale of Glamorgan schools this had included opportunities to support another school with leadership capacity, leadership of school to school provision and direct leadership programmes.  Of these, five headteachers had undertaken the New to Headship programme; two headteachers had undertaken the Strategic Headship programme; four headteachers had completed the Consultant Headship programme; three headteachers had completed the Executive Headteacher programme; five senior leaders had completed the Aspiring Headteacher programme and there were four successful NPQH applicants.

 

It was noted that all Red and Amber support schools had a bespoke package of support which was recorded within a support plan.  In this regard, key improvement objectives were identified and regular school improvement forums held to judge the impact of the support in enabling the school to meet its objectives. 

 

In 2016-2017 additional funding was provided to support Vale of Glamorgan specific priorities via the Local Authority Annex 2015-2016:

  • Improve standards in Welsh 2nd Language
  • Improve outcomes in Welsh 1st Language
  • Develop excellence in Leadership
  • Support for Barry secondary school transformation
  • Improvement Key Stage 4 Performance at Level 1. 

In considering the report, a Member sought details in respect of the issues facing Bryn Hafren school in comparison with Barry Comprehensive School. The Senior Challenge Advisor stated that Bryn Hafren had seen a significant number of staff changes in the English and Maths departments and that level 2 plus had been the main concern.  The English department had faired well but Maths had not.   However, the Challenge Advisor could confirm that she had visited the school recently and had attended a meeting of the school improvement forum where she was pleased to note the improvements that were being made. Athough the school was receiving considerable support it was also having considerable scrutiny.  Barry Comprehensive had also received considerable support from the Schools Challenge Cymru programme with identified interventions being agreed and  more resources put into the school. 

 

In referring to self-improving systems and schools sharing knowledge, the Chairman asked whether, in the Managing Director’s view was the self-improving system had an impact or had sharing knowledge outweighed this . In response, Mr. Glavin advised that there was an issue of risk but that identifying good practices in schools, could assist all schools to improve as well as plugging the gap with further staff when other staff were missing.

 

In considering the results and aware that, for example, English Literature was not now part of the performance indicators, the CSC had taken the same results and considered them against the modelled data and the published data for the previous year.  For example, in Science Committee was advised that there had been a significant increase but that this data would not be recognised in the future as n Science would not count under the new measures.  It was also he said fair to say that learners would be struggling with a more academic workload of GCSEs in the future. 

 

Having considered the results of the previous year, the Chairman asked what steps were being put in place for the future with the response that, for example, marked scripts had been collated and shared across schools, many schools were also concerned about early entry for children and the Consortium had supported all those schools in this venture.  Following a further query as to whether there had been similar changes in Welsh language exams as English Language examinations, the Managing Director stated that it was specifically in English where the figures had dropped. 

 

Having fully considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T both the Managing Director and the Senior Challenge Advisor be thanked for a comprehensive report and that further regular updates be provided as appropriate.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

In order for the Committee to be able to continue to monitor the work of the Central South Consortium.

 

 

691     SCHOOL PERFORMANCE REPORT 2016-2017: FOUNDATION PHASE AND KEY STAGES 2 TO 5 (REF) –

 

Cabinet had, on 22nd January, 2018, referred the report to the Scrutiny Committee for consideration and the Senior Challenge Advisor commenced by providing a short presentation.  The presentation covered progress in the Foundation Phase – Nursery, Reception, Years 1 and 2 pupils aged 3 to 7; Key Stage 2 –Years 3 to 6 of primary schools, pupils aged 7 to 11; Key Stage 3 – Years 7 to 9 of secondary schools, pupils aged 11 to 14; Key Stage 4 – Years 10 to 11 of secondary schools, pupils aged 14 to 16 and Post 16 (Key Stage 5) – Years 12 and 13.

 

Statutory end of Key Stage Teacher Assessment (TA) was administered at the end of the Foundation Phase, Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3, when were pupils aged, 7, 11 and 14 years old respectively.  The national minimum expectations for pupils at the end of the Foundation Phase and Key Stages 2 and 3 were as follows:  Outcome 5 at the end of the Foundation Phase, Level 4 at the end of Key Stage 2 and Level 5 at the end of Key Stage 3.  Additionally, expectations for more able pupils at the end of each phase were as follows:  Outcome 6 or above at the end of the Foundation Phase, Level 5 or above at the end of Key Stage 2 and Levels 6 and 7 at the end of Key Stage 3.

 

In relation to external examinations at Key Stages 4 and 5, the report outlined performance for the following measures and attached at Appendix 1 to the report were changes which would come into effect in 2017/18.  

  • The core subject indicator (CSI); the proportion of pupils attaining a GCSE A* - C in the core subjects of English, Welsh, mathematics and science;
  • Level 2 threshold; proportion of pupils attaining 5 x GCSEs A* to C;
  • Level 2+ threshold; proportion of pupils attaining 5 x GCSEs A* to C including Mathematics, English language or Welsh language.  This was the government's preferred measure of educational attainment;
  • English GCSE Level 2; the proportion of pupils attaining English GCSE A* to C;
  • Mathematics GCSE Level 2; the proportion of pupils attaining mathematics GCSE A* to C;
  • Science GCSE Level 2; the proportion of pupils attaining science GCSE A* to C;
  • A Level; the Level 3 indicator measured the proportion of pupils attaining 2 or more A levels A - E. 

It was noted that Welsh Government had introduced key changes to the performance measures in 2016-2017 which affected any possible comparisons that may be made against previous data.  Therefore, it was noted that caution should be used when comparing 2016-2017 outcomes with previous years.  The main changes being were reported as : 

  • The introduction of a cap of 40% of non-GCSEs that contributed to threshold measures;
  • The removal of literature for the Level 2 threshold including English / Welsh and Mathematics;
  • The introduction of the new specifications for English, Welsh, Mathematics and Numeracy;
  • A new Capped 9 points score measure which included GCSEs in English or Welsh language, Mathematics and Numeracy, two Science qualifications and four other qualifications which could be GCSEs, vocational qualifications or the new Welsh Baccalaureate. 

In general, the Vale of Glamorgan was advantaged in terms of socio-economic deprivation.  The proportion of pupils eligible to receive free school meals (eFSM) was used as a proxy indicator of socio-economic deprivation.  In 2016-17, the Vale ranked fifth lowest overall for the proportion of pupils eligible to receive free school meals.  These findings indicated that the aggregated performance of Vale schools should be significantly higher than for Wales as a whole and always ranked as fifth highest performing Local Authority, as a minimum expectation.

 

Progress in the Foundation Phase 

  • The positive trend in improving standards continues for the majority all indicators at Outcome 5, the exceptions being literacy, language and communication in English (LCE) and Mathematical development (MDT). Following a cumulative increase of 1.8pp from 2014-2016, MDT dipped by -0.5pp in 2017.  LCE dipped by -0.9pp although remains the highest in the region;
  • Performance at Outcome 6 had increased measurably for all indicators, most notably in LCE where attainment had improved by a further 4.6pp.  Performance at Outcome 6 had been a continued focus for improvement and the impact of the support and challenge to schools had resulted in significant gains over the last three years;
  • The Foundation Phase outcome indicator (FPOI) increased slightly and remained the highest in the Central South Consortium;
  • When comparing the performance with other Local Authorities, with the exception of Personal and Social Development (PSD) at Outcome 6 which was ranked fifth, all other indicators in the Foundation Phase performed better than expected and were ranked in the highest 4;
  • At both Outcome 5+ and Outcome 6 the majority of schools performed above the median in all indicators.  Of particular note was LLCW (Ka – what does this stand for?) where 75% of schools were above the median;
    • The difference in FPOI performance for those pupils entitled to free school meals (eFSM) and those that were not (non FSM) had reduced slightly from -‑13.8% in 2016 to -10.2%.  This was the narrowest gap the Council had seen in performance and was narrower than the region, however, it remained an area of developmental need. 

Progress in Key Stage 2: 

  • Improvements in attainment at Level 4 had been made in all performance measures except Science which dipped by      -0.2pp.  The greatest improvement was in Welsh, and at 96.7%, was the highest of all core subjects;
  • With the exception of Welsh, performance at Level 5+ had risen again for the fifth consecutive year.  Most notable were the improvements in Science which improved by 7.1pp.  Mathematics and English also improved by 6.1pp and 5.2pp respectively.  Welsh was now the lowest performing core subject at Level 5+.
  • The core subject indicator (CSI) had increased by 0.8pp this academic year.  This was the fifth consecutive rise and increased the Vale’s rank to first in Wales;
  • When compared to the performance of other Local Authorities, the Vale of Glamorgan was in the top three for      all indicators;
  • With regards to benchmarking, at Level 4, the percentage of schools in the top half was strong again this year in      all five indicators.  Of particular note was Welsh (80%).  At Level 5 there were further increases and many schools were in the top half in all subjects.  Of particular note was Science where 56% of schools were in the top 25%;
  • The difference in CSI performance between eFSM and non FSM had decreased from -13.9% to -12%.  The gap remained narrower than the region whilst this improvement was positive, it remained an area of focus.

Progress in Key Stage 3: 

  • At Key Stage 3 standards remained strong, having risen yet again in English, Mathematics and the CSI.  The highest performing of the core subjects were Welsh (95.6%) and Science (95.7%).  All indicators at the expected level ranked the Vale of Glamorgan at fourth or higher when compared to other Local Authorities;
  • The high expectations shared across the Authority had significantly impacted on the rise in standards at Level 6+ with an increase in all performance indicators except Welsh which had fallen by 1.1pp.  The greatest improvement was seen in English which has increased by 3.6pp.  Science continued to be the highest performing core subject (75.1%) with Welsh now the lowest performing (66.7%);
  • There were improvements at Level 7+ in all subjects with significant gains in Welsh (4pp), Science (3.9pp) and English (2.8pp).  Welsh continued to be the lowest performing of the core subjects at this level and was the only indicator ranked below fifth when compared to other Local Authorities;
  • Benchmarking at all levels remained strong.  Most schools had above median
  • performance in all indicators and all schools were in the higher 50% for the CSI;
  • The performance of eFSM pupils improved by 3.8pp and the gap had narrowed from -19.9% to -15.3%.  It remained a focus for improvement, even though the difference was now -5.8pp less than the regional average. 

Progress at Key Stage 4: 

  • Performance in the Level 2+ indicator decreased by 6.7pp to 60.4% but remained the highest in the Central South Consortium and higher than the Wales average of 54.6%.  However, the performance of eFSM pupils fell sharply and the gap had widened from 25.2pp to 35.8pp.  Overall, the Vale of Glamorgan was ranked fourth when compared to other Local Authorities in this key indicator;
  • Of the core subjects, the decrease of -6.8pp in (best of) Mathematics had the greatest impact on the Level 2+.  This dip was greater than the Consortium average of -4.1pp and the Wales average of -4.4pp, but the overall performance at 67.3% remained the highest in the Consortium and higher than the Wales average of 62.5%.  Performance improved in one school, but two of the eight schools suffered a decrease of greater than 10pp, the greater of which was -24.8pp.  The decrease in the remaining five schools ranged from -3.3pp to -9.3pp.  Whereas boys outperformed girls in Mathematics by 3.6pp in 2016, in 2017, the performance of boys dipped more than that of girls and girls outperformed boys by 0.3pp;
  • English in the Vale of Glamorgan saw a decrease of -4.7pp compared to a Consortium average decrease of -8.6pp and a Wales decrease or -5.6pp, but improved compared to other Local Authorities.  This decrease could be attributed to the change in specification and the removal of English literature. Outcomes in English improved in four out of the eight schools, but in the remaining four schools, the decrease ranged from -10.6pp to -21.5pp.  The performance of boys fell by -8.7pp compared to a -1.5pp decrease of girls;
  • The performance of Welsh language in the one Welsh medium school was strong and improved by 3.5pp; performance in Welsh was the stronger of English or Welsh.  When compared to other Local Authorities, the Vale’s ranking improved from seventh to fifth;
  • The percentage of pupils achieving 5 A*-A grades increased from 21.9% in 2016 to 24.8% in 2017.  This was significantly higher than the Consortium and Wales averages of 18.3% and 16.8% respectively.  Of particular note was the increase in Cowbridge where 46.5% of pupils achieved this measure.  This was the highest in the region.  However, there was a decrease in the percentage of eFSM pupils who achieved 5 A*-A and in six out of eight schools, no eFSM pupils achieved 5 A*- A grades;
  • In the first year of the average 'capped 9' wider point score (refer to paragraph 6 for further details), pupils in the Vale of Glamorgan achieved an average score of 345.4 points compared to a CSC average of 331.3 and a Wales average of 325.8.  The Vale of Glamorgan was the second highest performing Local Authority in Wales in this new measure;
  • At Level 2, the Vale of Glamorgan’s performance decreased by -14pp to 73.8% compared to a Consortium decrease of -19.5pp to 67.6% and a national decrease of -17pp to 67%.  Level 2 performance improved in two out of the eight schools.  In the remaining six, the decrease ranged from -4.4pp to -27.5pp.  The performance of boys decreased by 17.2pp compared to girls, whose performance decreased by 5.5pp.  The greatest decrease was evident in schools that had in recent years developed a curriculum that included a wider range of qualifications, including BTEC and other skills’ based qualifications.  These were predominantly schools with higher percentages of eFSM pupils.  Overall, the Vale of Glamorgan’s ranking improved from seventh to fourth when compared to other Local Authorities;
  • Level 1 performance improved by 0.5pp to 95.9% which resulted in the Vale of Glamorgan performing higher than other Local Authorities in the region having previously been the lowest.  The Consortium average fell by -1.1pp to 94.3% and the Wales average fell by -0.8pp to 94.4%.  However, despite the improvement, Level 1 remained the only Key Stage 4 performance indicator ranked below the indicative position of fifth when compared to other Local Authorities although it improved from twelfth to sixth;
  • When considering the Level 2+ performance of eFSM pupils, there were three schools where fewer than 35% of these pupils achieved the Level 2+ threshold: St. Cyres (22.9%), Barry Comprehensive (19.4%), and Bryn Hafren (22.2%).  The best performing school with regard to this indicator was Cowbridge (63.6%) although this was 22pp lower than in 2016. 

Progress at Key Stage 5: 

  • The percentage of pupils achieving the Level 3 threshold decreased slightly from 98.3% to 98.1%.  This year, all students in Bryn Hafren Comprehensive, Cowbridge Comprehensive and Ysgol Gymraeg Bro Morgannwg achieved the Level 3 threshold;
  • 15.6% of students in the Vale of Glamorgan achieved 3 A*-A grades at A level or equivalent.  This was an increase of 6.5pp from 2016 and higher than the regional average;
  • A level performance for the Local Authority remained stable at 77.3%% for A*-C grades but dipped by 0.3pp to 97.9% for A*-E grades.  The percentage of entries awarded A*-A grades improved from 22.3% in 2016 to 26.4% last academic year.  Of particular note were the improvements in Stanwell School where 33.9% of grades awarded were A*-A. 

Schools causing concern and the use of powers of intervention: 

  • Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School was judged by Estyn as requiring significant improvement in March 2016 and was re-visited in May 2017. Despite making strong progress in certain areas such as assessment, the school was judged to have made insufficient improvement in other key indicators such as Level 2 English which dropped to 52% from 65%.  In addition, the percentage of eFSM pupils attaining Level 2+ remained unacceptably low at 17%.  Estyn was likely to revisit the school during the current academic year.  The school remained subject to a formal warning notice. 

The Senior Challenge Advisor, in making the presentation, referred to the Vale’s performance in all Key Stages, the regional and general performance, performance in core subjects for the Vale and Wales, gender performance for the Vale and Wales and Key Stage 2 core subject indicator performance for eFSM versus non eFSM.  The Local Authority ranking was also provided for each stage, together with details of areas for improvement.

 

In considering the report it was further noted that from August 2018 English Literature would not be counted in the key subject indicators and this would have a big impact for the Vale of Glamorgan as a number of schools performed much better in Literature than Language.  A review of vocational qualifications had also had an impact and of significant note was that the gap between girls and boys was closing and that out of 22 Local Authorities the Vale was performing well, with all performance being higher than expected, although at Key Stage 3 the gap had widened slightly between boys and girls, which was now a focus of the Central South Consortium. 

 

Following a query as to how many papers had been re-marked in previous years, the Managing Director advised that there had been a significant increase from the previous year, with some pupils having had their marks increased by up to 12 points. 


With regard to the pupils at Bryn Hafren school, a Member queried the support that was being provided in relation to Mathematics and how they were being assisted with the forthcoming examinations.  In response, Committee was informed that support provided by the school ranged from a number of interventions including after school clubs, etc.  There was also the facility to resit the examination at school.

 

The Chairman referred to the number of pupils who undertake different courses as the measures referred to academic qualifications, with a query as to whether the Consortium and the Vale were actually undertaking any work in relation to added value.  The Managing Director advised that Welsh Government was in the process of reviewing PIs and that the Consortium would be lobbying hard for added value measures.  It was important to note the progress of pupils throughout their schooling as opposed to justifying the results.  The Chairman requested that the Committee be kept abreast of any developments and that a future report be presented to the Committee in relation to the activities and steps that were being undertaken to assist eFSM pupils and the progress made, with a suggestion that a presentation be also presented to the Scrutiny Committee in this regard.

 

Having fully considered the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the further reports as outlined above be presented as appropriate and that the School Performance Report 2016-2017: Foundation Phase and Key Stages 2 to 5 be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To apprise Members and to ensure Members’ awareness of the changes and resulting implications for comparative purposes.

 

 

692     VALE SEREN PROGRAMME (REF) –

 

The report provided an update on the progress in implementing the Welsh Government’s Seren Programme which had also been a work programme item for the Committee.

 

The Seren Network had been established in 2014 to support teachers and students to access information and resources and to inspire and help students progress to the top universities in the United Kingdom.  The programme was offered to students over a two year programme starting in Year 12 through to Year 13 and as the two year cycle would be completed in September 2018, the report noted that at that point it would be possible to measure the impact of the programme.

 

The event to launch the Vale Seren Network had been held in November 2016 and attended by approximately 380 guests which consisted of 188 students and their parents.  The launch event hosted six master classes in subject specific areas; each class was attended by approximately 30 students.  The subject specific areas were as follows: 

  • Societies in crisis in the medieval and modern world;
  • Health promotion and the marketing of anti-depressants;
  • The strategic implication of America’s use of armed drones and the rise of military robotics;
  • The importance of tissue culture in blood cancer research;
  • Stem cells: Basic concepts, regenerative medicine and cancer;
  • Gods and Demons: how karma relates to the concepts of rebirth and liberation. 

During 2016/17, a number of events were attended by Vale Seren students, these were as follows: 

  • An introduction to Oxbridge and like universities delivered by Churchill College, University of Cambridge;
  • Writing personal statements and making use of the summer vacation, Churchill College, University of Cambridge;
  • Fine tuning application and preparing for academic interviews, Churchill College, University of Cambridge;
  • An admissions session and information and guidance hosted by Bath University;
  • The first National Seren Conference in Newtown held in December 2016, was attended by 70 Vale Seren students, this was the largest turnout from South Wales.  The conference focused on collaboration, providing information and guidance and academic challenge to students.  The academic programme provided four streams; these were – arts and humanities, social sciences, life sciences and physical sciences.  A separate timetable for teachers offered Continuing Professional Development (CPD) across a wide range of areas such as personal statement and reference writing, university readiness, research and advancing access;
  • Cardiff University delivered a Modern Foreign Languages and medicine open day in collaboration with other Seren Hubs in South Wales;
  • Oxford Summer School hosted by Jesus College, was attended by two participants from each of the 11 Hubs.  Four days were spent with experts on ”What tomorrow may bring”; covering climate change, demography and migration, artificial intelligence, trade, politics amongst many other subjects.  

The 2017/18 programme of activities for Year 12 Seren students included the following: 

  • preparing Oxbridge applications;
  • wellbeing sessions;
  • information and guidance;
  • interview techniques;
  • Modern Foreign Languages;
  • information and guidance Yale and USA Universities Overseas
  • Cambridge University admissions and tests;
  • Young Lawyers Programme, University College London;
  • Oxford University day trip, and a range of master classes. 

The number of activities was likely to increase through collaborative work as the year progressed. 

 

Whilst the focus had been on Oxbridge Universities, there had also been an increase in activities involving other Russell Group Universities.  Over the last 14 months, the following Russell Group activities had been delivered to Seren students: Bath University had delivered information, guidance and admissions sessions; Modern Foreign Languages at Bath and Cardiff Universities, mock interviews for medics at Cardiff Medical University; three day young lawyer programme at University College London.   A day programme and visit to Bristol University had been planned for March 2018.  Yale University had provided information and guidance on USA universities and studying overseas.

 

The Vale Seren Network Partnership Group had been established to operationalise the programme.  Membership consisted of heads of sixth forms and the Deputy Headteacher of Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School.  The meetings were chaired by the Seren Hub Co-ordinator and the Hub Co-ordinator attended national meetings in Newtown, chaired by Welsh Government.

 

The Seren Project Board had been established to provide governance to the programme.  Membership consisted of the Director of Learning and Skills, or her nominated representative, headteacher representatives and representation from Cardiff and Vale College (CAVC).

 

Following a query as to whether mentors were provided to pupils, it was noted that there were mentorship programmes that students could link into.  They could also undertake visits to universities and there was training for teachers so that they could act as mentors.  It was felt that there was a mix of opportunities and mentorship support that was provided.

 

Following consideration of the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the progress in relation to the programme be noted and that a further report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee following the examination results in the summer of 2018 to provide the Committee with an update on progress.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To provide Members with an update on progress in implementing the Seren Programme in the Vale of Glamorgan.

 

 

693     VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL ANNUAL SELF-ASSESSMENT (DLS) –

 

The report provided Members with a strategic self-assessment of the Council’s performance for the period April 2016 – December 2017 that identified the Council’s achievements and its key priorities for 2018/19.

 

The Annual Council self-assessment process was an evolving one reflecting the ongoing work to ensure that the process dovetailed with the Council’s other forms of self-assessment (such as the Improvement Plan, Service Plans, the Annual Local Authority Education Service Evaluation Report and Director of Social Services Annual Report) and the developing audit requirements of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 (WBFG).

 

The self-assessment format for 2017 built on the Council’s Performance Management Framework developments in 2016/17 and reflected the Council's outcome focused approach in line with its duties under the WBFG Act.

 

The Corporate Plan Well-being Outcomes formed the framework for evaluating the Council’s performance and achievements, thus enabling the Council to demonstrate its ability to achieve positive outcomes for its residents and secure continuous improvement.  These were supported by service based position statements covering all Council services.

 

This was the second year of reporting performance against the Corporate Plan 2016-2020 and progress was now available for a full year.  Consequently, it had been possible to undertake a comprehensive self-assessment presented by the Corporate Plan Well-being Outcome areas for the first time.  The self-assessment covered the period April 2016 to December 2017.  The report drew on: the individual service self-assessments covering the 14 Service Plan areas; the Council’s progress to date in achieving the Year 2 priorities of its Corporate Plan Well-being Outcomes and Corporate Health priorities; the views of the Council’s regulators in the Annual Improvement Report and the Council’s progress to date in relation to its audit recommendations / proposals for improvement.

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council’s Annual Self-Assessment could be viewed via the following link: http://www.valeofglamorgan.gov.uk/Documents/Our%20Council/Achieving%20our%20vision/Annual-Self-Assessment-Report-March-2018-with-Appendix-AB-C.pdf

and hard copies had been made available in the Members’ Room for inspection. 

 

Pages 31-43 of the Council's Annual Self-Assessment provided an overview which outlined the current position as at December 2017,  key achievements to date and the priorities for 2018/19 in relation to Well-being Outcome 3, 'An Aspirational and Culturally Vibrant Vale'.

 

Under the WBFG Act, the Council was required to review its Well-being Objectives annually to ensure they remained relevant and maximised its contribution to the national well-being goals.  In order to strengthen and evidence the Council’s integrated approach both internally and with its partners, this year as part of the Council’s Annual Self-Assessment, the Council had incorporated challenge sessions with Sponsoring Directors and key contributors for each of the Corporate Plan Well-being Outcomes and Objectives.  These sessions had enabled the Council to consider the priorities emerging from the draft Annual Council Self-Assessment along with proposed activities to address these in order to help it determine whether its Well-being Objectives remained relevant and reflected the Well-being Objectives of the Public Services Board (PSB).  The PSB had published its draft Well-being Objectives pending agreement and publication by May 2018.  Having reviewed the Council’s progress to date in relation to the Corporate Plan Well-being Outcomes and corresponding Objectives, it was assured that the priorities identified continued to be relevant priorities going into 2018/19.

 

As part of the annual Self-Assessment, the Council identified a series of actions to drive improvement in the following year.  Appendix B of the link contained an Insight Action Tracker which provided a summary of the Council’s progress to date in relation to its integrated planning priorities identified in last year's Annual Self-Assessment and also incorporated all regulatory recommendations / proposals for improvement.  The Insight Board was the primary channel through which all integrated planning related activities were reviewed and monitored.  Meeting on a monthly basis, the Insight Board comprised Council officers from across service and corporate areas of the Council and reported to Corporate Management Team and Cabinet.  As at January 2018, of the 61 actions contained within the Insight Action tracker, 27 had been completed and 34 remained ongoing.  Of the 34, 12 had been attributed a Green performance status, 21 an Amber status and 1 a Red status

 

Appendix C of the link provided an outline in detail of the progress against regulatory recommendations and proposals for improvement between 2011 and 2015, it being noted that there were no reviews specifically related to Well-being Outcome 2.

 

Committee was advised that in his recent letter to the Managing Director (11th January, 2018), the Auditor General for Wales indicated that the performance audit programme for the Council for 2018/19 would include a follow-up on its progress with previous recommendations / proposals for improvement in relation to both local and national Local Government Studies.  This review would enable the Council to provide its Regulators with an up to date position on all its regulatory recommendations / proposals for improvement from October 2011 to January 2018.

 

Going forward, an annual review of regulatory recommendations / proposals for improvement would form part of the Council’s Annual Self-assessment process enabling it to demonstrate progress on implementation of these in line with its duties under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009.

 

The Chairman, in stating that she was totally supportive of the evidence-based planning, queried how robust the measures were and whether there were any areas that needed further interrogation.  The Director of Learning and Skills, in response, advised that the department was currently undertaking a significant amount of work on its data systems, The Head of Service for Strategy, Community Learning and Resources also advised that one of the biggest challenges for the service area was in relation to the 56 schools as data that was currently being collected in schools was being collected via a number of different mechanisms..  The department was currently working with the Youth Service looking at NEETS data to try to capture what progress a pupil had and what interventions had been put in place.  It was apparent that on paper it was seen to be quite an easy issue to address, but in practical terms it was proving challenging due to the number of schools with different systems.

 

The Head of Achievement for All referred to additional challenges, in particular the new Estyn Framework which had identified a new list of identifiable groups with the recommendation that their progress also be tracked, which was proving challenging for the department. Progress was indeed being made, but would take time.  In response, the Chairman stated that it was important to ensure that the data was used correctly in order that the resources could be put in the right place where needed.

 

Following consideration of the report, it was subsequently

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the Council's Annual Self-Assessment Report, including identified priorities for 2018/19 onwards, be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T the use and content of the Council's Annual Self-Assessment as the basis for service planning for 2018/19 be endorsed. 

 

(3)       T H A T the current progress reported against previous regulatory recommendations / proposals for improvement arising from local and national Local Government Studies for the period 2011-2015 relevant to their respective Committees, to enable completed actions to be closed and the remaining actions incorporated in and monitored via the Council's Insight Action Tracker for 2018/19 be noted.

 

Reasons for the Recommendations

 

(1)       To meet the requirements of the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009 and the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 to undertake a self-assessment of all Council services and use this information as the basis to drive continuous improvement of Council services and maximise their contribution to achieving the national well-being goals.

 

(2)       To ensure the Annual Council Self-Assessment reflects the key challenges facing both the Council as whole and informs the Council's plans for improvement for 2018/19.

 

(3)       To ensure the Council implements its regulatory recommendations / proposals for improvement and responds appropriately to the recommendations / proposals for improvement identified through the WAO's programme of national Local Government Studies for the period 2011-2015.