Agenda Item No
The Vale of Glamorgan Council
Learning and Culture Scrutiny Committee: 20th March 2017
Report of the Managing Director
Individual Schools Progress Panel Meeting
Purpose of the Report
- To provide the Committee with an update of a School Progress Panel meeting held at Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School by a Panel of three Members of the Scrutiny Committee.
- T H A T the Scrutiny Progress Panel findings as detailed in paragraphs 40 to 43 of the report be accepted.
- T H A T the results of the recent examinations undertaken at the school together with a copy of the latest Challenge Advisor's report be presented to the Panel when available.
- T H A T an update on the work of the Accelerated Improvement Board be presented to the Panel and thereafter to the Scrutiny Committee in due course..
- T H A T the Committee receives an update report as soon as possible following the GCSE results in August 2017.
- T H A T this report and the recommendations above be referred to Cabinet for consideration and / or approval.
Reasons for the Recommendations
- Having considered the contents of the report.
- To apprise members.
3. To monitor the work of the accelerated improvement board.
4. To apprise Members.
5. For consideration.
- School Progress Panel meetings consisting of three Members were established in February 2013 in order to seek to increase the accountability of schools for pupil attainment.
- The School Progress Panel meeting for Bryn Hafren, held on 9th December, 2016, comprised Councillors N.P. Hodges (Chairman of the Panel), F.T. Johnson and A. Parker. Also in attendance were Councillor L. Burnett, Cabinet Member for Regeneration and Education, Mrs. P. Ham - Interim Director of Learning and Skills, Ms. M. Hudson - Lead Officer for School Improvement, Mr. S. Sherman - Challenge Advisor for the school, Mr. G. Davies - Headteacher, Mrs. C. Tyler - Chairman of Governors, Mrs. A. Davies and Mrs. M. Davies - members of the school's Senior Leadership Team and Mrs. K. Bowen - Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer.
- Prior to this, a Panel meeting had also been convened on 12th July, 2016 as a result of a previous recommendation of the Panel in January 2015 to revisit the school following the GCSE results in August 2015. Although GCSE performance in Mathematics and attendance during the year had exceeded the targets as set out in the Director's letter of 27th August, 2015, a report on pupils attaining 5 GCSEs at Grades A* - C, including English and Mathematics (Level 2+) at 45% had not met the agreed target or the minimum expectation. Performance in English had also shown a significant decline from the previous year.
- At the meeting on 12th July, 2016, the Panel acknowledged the improved level of attendance and the work being undertaken in respect of free school meal pupils, but the Panel was mindful for the school to be properly focused on positive outcomes for its pupils.
- At that time the Panel asked the school to note the shared disappointment following GCSE results in August 2015 and also falling performance in Mathematics at Key Stage 4. The Panel however, recognised the positive achievements at Key Stage 3 and also understood the amount of work required to improve the quality of marking. The school's PIAP formed a useful basis for the future work required by the school and the Panel was encouraged by the plans in place. The Panel commented that challenges would continue ahead of Estyn's next monitoring visit, which was critical to the school's future and other challenges included the GCSE results for the summer and the need for further working on marking. The Panel had heard of the improvements in the Mathematics department and the Panel hoped that these would come to fruition and that the new staff employed were also successful to the school's plans.
Relevant Issues and Options
- Following consideration of the GCSE results in August 2016, the Interim Director of Learning and Skills wrote to the Chair of Governors on 28th October, 2016 detailing the school's performance in recent years, including data and benchmarking for 2016 and referring to minimum expectations which had been agreed with the Headteacher for 2017. That letter had also outlined that although the school had worked very hard to address performance in key areas, the Council remained concerned about the accuracy and reliability of teachers' assessments in relation to WJEC expectations for English. In light of the GCSE results in August 2016 and as a result of the Council's concerns a further Panel visit was requested to be undertaken, which took place on 9th December 2016. The Panel meeting provided 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.
- The minimum expectations for the school 2017 were also referred to in the letter of 28th October, 2016 and the Central South Consortium's (CSC) School Improvement Service had set aside a significant number of days to challenge and support the school to achieve these.
- The table below details the minimum expectations required for the 2017 results:
Percentage of pupils achieving A* - C in English Language
Percentage of pupils achieving 5 A* - C grades in Mathematics
Percentage of pupils achieving 5 A* - C grades including English and Mathematics
Percentage of pupils entitled to free school meals securing 5 A* - C grades including English and Mathematics
- At the meeting on 9th December, 2016, amongst the information presented, the Panel received a detailed account of the school's responses to the Estyn recommendations. It was also noted that following a monitoring visit in March 2016 Estyn had concluded that the school had made insufficient progress in relation to the recommendations of its core inspection which had taken place in May 2012. As a result, Estyn had judged the school as needing significant improvement and the following recommendations were made :
R(1) Re standards particularly in those areas where there is relative under-performance in English and Mathematics at Key Stage 3 - Judgement - limited progress.
R(2) Increase proportion of excellent and good teaching - Judgement - satisfactory progress.
R(3) Ensure that there was a consistent and systematic whole school approach to improving pupils literacy skills - Judgement - satisfactory progress.
R(4) Improve consistency in the quality of marking so that pupils receive clear advice that helps them improve - Judgement - limited progress.
R(5) Strengthen the quality of improvement planning to ensure plans link closely with the findings of self-evaluation and include clear targets for improvement - Judgement - satisfactory progress.
- In outlining performance at the school, the Headteacher advised the Panel, that comparisons with like schools had improved as the benchmark profiles had also improved since the last school inspection. Improvements had also been made at Level 6+ and Level 7+. The school compared its results against schools in the family of schools in the Local Authority and all-Wales results, with many being increasingly favourable. Of note, the Headteacher advised, was the fact that in 2016 the school had achieved its best ever Key Stage 3 results.
- Committee was presented with a table showing performance between 2012 to 2016 for Key Stages 3, 4 and 5, a copy of which can be found at Appendix 1 to this report. However, the Senior Challenge Advisor and Lead Officer for School Improvement for the Vale informed the Panel that on its return to the school, Estyn would no doubt also review data from 2011 which showed that progress had been more limited than the 2012 to 2016 data suggested.
School's Post Inspection Action Plan (PIAP)
- The Headteacher acknowledged the support and assistance the school had received from Estyn and the Challenge Advisor advising that regular update reports on the plan were presented to the Governing Bodies via its Standards Committee. Although acknowledging that some areas were not good, the Headteacher did acknowledge that the school was a much happier school than when he first started. He also considered that the majority of teachers, the trade unions and the Leadership Team were truly on board with what was required.
- In the presentation to the Panel, the Deputy Headteacher provided an overview of the current situation in relation to the Estyn recommendations, commencing by stating that there had been a lack of consistency within departments and although reading and writing strategies were in place and had been recognised by Estyn, they had not been consistent across all departments.
- In referring to Recommendations (1) and (3), the Panel was advised that to date each department was now responsible for reading strands and homework was far more structured and was being marked against the matrix. The Literacy Co-ordinator met regularly with all departments, with marking being consistently overseen with examples of good practice being put forward. There were as many opportunities as possible for pupils to undertake writing programmes and Welsh National Test Data was being utilised to ensure that the school was filling the gaps. A Homework Programme had also been introduced which had been successful and the feedback to date could be seen through learning walks undertaken by staff as well as lesson observations. The Accelerated Reader Scheme Programme had commenced with the opportunity for all pupils to receive reading scores and as a result of a literacy programme, there was now far more accountability with a number of pupils having left the programme because they had hit their targets.
- With regard to Estyn's Recommendation (2) the need to increase the proportion of excellent and good teaching within the school, notwithstanding the work that had been undertaken since the previous meeting of the Panel, the Headteacher felt internally that quite a lot of good work in this area had been undertaken and the Consortium was currently considering whether to ask the school to present a document on the work they had done so far to future School Forum meetings.
- For Recommendation (4), an Assistant Headteacher was directly responsible for this aspect and further work was being undertaken by the Leadership Team to consider how teachers fed back through their book work, with any verbal feedback that was given to pupils being recorded. The marking code had been firmed up with all teachers now using the same code and pupils understanding the importance of grammar. A book review proforma was used to check that the work was being completed accurately and addressed nine issues of marking and feedback. This included whether there was peer assessment, self-assessment and whether every department was giving pupils the opportunity for literacy development. The results of this approach were given to individual teachers, the Head of Department and line managers as well as being identified in the Action Plan.
- Members raised concerns in that although there had been improvements in Key Stage 3, they queried what impact there had been in Key Stage 4 and again, although acknowledging that some staffing issues had been addressed, queried what the school was doing to ensure good teaching was being continued and how teachers were being monitored. In response, the Panel was informed that lesson observations were undertaken, each teacher was met with on a regular basis, the IRIS Connect School System was being used with video recordings of teacher performance in classrooms undertaken, which were then used for self-reflection and / or sharing with colleagues. A regular calendar of lesson observations existed and in October 2016 this had been completed with all staff, by the Senior Leadership Team, together with two external senior leaders who were Estyn trained. Each Department was then given a list of different features of a lesson which was included in the action plan for development. Nine members of staff had also been part of a teaching programme to assist in developing themselves, which they had put themselves forward for. However, there were some issues with some teachers of significant underperformance which were being addressed.
- There was co-ordinated support in both the Mathematics and English Departments, with lead practitioners being identified to continue to work with the school. The new Head of Mathematics, in conjunction with support from the CSC, had also worked to upskill staff within the Mathematics Department and following the disappointing results in English, pressure had been brought to bear on the Department. The Headteacher also met regularly with every member of staff to consider what had been achieved and what had not been achieved. Judgements were then made following consideration of the data, although it was recognised that some areas of the raising achievement plan would have to wait until the examination results were reported.
- With specific reference to the disappointing English results, Members queried whether the continuity of teachers could be maintained, being advised that all supply teachers were visited at every lesson with diagnostic rankings taking place on a regular basis. The Headteacher however, advised that it was important to note that the majority of departments were successful and, in particular, at Key Stage 4 Science results had been the best ever for the second consecutive year. The Senior Leadership Team was also looking closely at the work of all teachers in the English Department and keeping a close monitoring eye. The Headteacher was currently responsible for Mathematics and English, working with the Deputy Head and the Head of Department in dividing the monitoring of the work. There were issues about the ability of the English Department to grade the work, but the Headteacher was continually monitoring and also undertaking in part the role of the Head of English with weekly meetings taking place.
- To address Estyn's Recommendation (5) the need to strengthen the quality of improvement planning, the Panel was informed that an agreed format had been established with the plans being consistently better than they had been previously. Each Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR) having an improvement plan which could be completed by every member of staff and overseen by the Senior Leadership Team. This process was overseen by a Senior Leadership Team member, whose role was to monitor to ensure that the five recommendations were being addressed.
- It was also the school's view that the document was driving up school expectations. It was regularly reviewed and they were shortly to commence the next action. A RAG (Red, Amber, Green) rating system had also been developed, with every teacher revisiting their plan on a fortnightly basis, assessing what they were working on and how far they had got as well as identifying any good practice that could be emulated.
- The Panel was re-informed that the whole school was accountable for performance and raising standards and that external data was being used to improve planning. It was envisaged that this improvement planning process would assist the school in monitoring every aspect required. A raising achievement plan for 2016/17 had been developed and was part of the papers for the Panel's information. This was also intended to focus specifically on one area that had been identified as needing improvement as part of the school's result analysis i.e. improving Level 2+.
- Following the examinations post November 2016, the school would support English by utilising the rich resources from the CSC, with resources being tailored to support the understanding of infographics and utilising the information from various sources.
- From January 2017 onwards, the results would be published and immediate work would be undertaken to ensure effective provision for all students. This would require input for all ME+3 stakeholders, with such decisions including:
- "are there students who have hit their target grade in Mathematics and should now terminate their studies
- are there higher tiered students who have not hit their target grade and should now enter the immediate tier
- what setting changes should take place
- are withdrawal interventions necessary for unsuccessful Set 2 students."
- Regular mock examinations in class would also inform schemes of learning for March, April and May 2017. It was accepted that much of the revision for the November preparations would continue with the addition of an onsite revision day for intermediate target students scheduled for some time in March 2017.
- Preparation timetables were established, together with an action plan for improving performance of FSM pupils at Level 2+. These included FSM pupils being RAGed via a spreadsheet accordingly to prior achievement and potential for achieving Level 2+. Pupils would also be identified from that for mentoring, with individual group mentoring by staff identifying eFSM pupils to focus on performance objectives. Other activities to include after school and Saturday and Sunday revision sessions in English and Mathematics established, prizes and incentives offered to pupils, parents' evenings and interim reports being presented, analysis of interim report grades, analysis of marked results from November examinations, full reports to parents and the continuation of after school revision. Easter holiday revision, Mathematics revision would be offered to some targeted pupils and Head of Year form tutors. Staff would also be checking pupils had arrived in school for all summer examinations with various tasks being undertaken, if not e.g. phone calls to pupils and even the possibility of sending taxis for some pupils if transport was an issue.
- With regard to what control the FSM Co-ordinator had over the spending of the pupil deprivation grant and how FSM pupils were targeted, the Panel was advised that the FSM Co-ordinator informed each teacher of each of the FSM pupils and the work required. Target groups were displayed on the staff room wall and were consistently updated. A number of other support mechanisms were also included for example, pastoral support, financial support where appropriate for revision guides, uniforms etc., specific mentoring identified when necessary, parents were also contacted at home seeking support for a pupil, talking to pupils and supporting them, ensuring that they were able to access any trips if required, provide finances for peripatetic music lessons and provide a number of opportunities that may not easily be accessible to them. With regard to any pupils that were considered MAT (more ably talented), these were also able to have support together with the Seren Access Project for the 6th Form.
Other School Strategies for 2016/17
- Other strategies for 2016 and 2017 were outlined as:
- improving the quality of teaching and learning in English and Mathematics faculties
- increasing the accountability of the English and Mathematics faculties
- improving the quality of leadership and management in English and Mathematics faculties
- actions for Year 11 in 2017 would include the resetting of Year 11 class, amending staffing for key groups of pupils, ensuing key pupil groups had a better teacher/pupil ratio and ensuring that the groups received appropriate additional support interventions.
- The Panel, although accepting that plans had been put in place, was concerned as to whether these could be sustainable throughout the years. It was noted that the PiXL system had proved advantageous and provided sound activities for pupils. However, due to the budgetary constraints of the school, the Headteacher had not been in a position to purchase the package any earlier although accepting that he should have done so sooner. The new recently appointed Head of Mathematics had also shared their PiXL work with the Head of the English department, who was also carrying out some of the activities contained therein.
- The PiXL database had helped to identify need with pupils being targeted in sets with good teachers then being deployed to teach the targeted girls. Movement of pupils across the groups was also undertaken as this had proved successful for Mathematics in the previous year. It was acknowledged that the sharing of data was a much more open and transparent process than it had been previously, with teachers now addressing the issues to see how they could assist pupils across the whole curriculum. The January exam results were shortly anticipated and it was hoped that these would show improvements.
- Following a request from a Member as to how confident the school would be that they could achieve 60% in English, the Headteacher advised that he was confident they could reach the required Mathematics target but less confident in English.
Pupil Progress in English
- In response to a further query as to how resources were targeted and if these had been specifically targeted to English language as a whole, the Headteacher stated that a considerable amount of support had been received from the CSC, in particular for the new GCSE. The school was hoping that the focus that had been given and that was being maintained would come to fruition, with it being noted that the school was currently giving more focus and time to English language than had previously been the case. Controlled assessments were also taking place and there were plans to work with vulnerable learners and FSM pupils.
- A teacher had been made responsible for pupil attendance and the school was on track for attendance to be the same as in the previous year. The school had also worked with the Local Authority and a number of Headteachers had visited the school to consider the practices used in order to adopt such practices in their schools. Success of only 29 days of exclusions in total was reported as significantly down from the previous year's figure of 80. The Headteacher highlighted in his view the calmer environment and the work of the pastoral system in particular.
- In wishing to also present the Panel with details of the school's successes, the Headteacher advised that an exercise had been carried out in November 2016 whereby all parents and carers had been given an opportunity to anonymously complete a questionnaire. In total 371 questionnaires had been returned and following the collation of the results they had in the main been positive.
- Other successes included:
- improvement in the position at Key Stage 3
- School's best ever Mathematics results in 2016
- School's best ever English results in 2015
- Attendance in 2016 best ever
- Staffing level appropriate and budget balanced
- ICT system working
- The school was also known as the Modern Foreign Language (MFL) Centre of Excellence and as a lead creative school.
Governing Body Support
- The Chairman of the Governing Body advised the Panel that the Governors were supportive of the school but also understood the need for challenge which, she stated, may not have been undertaken as robustly as it should have in previous years. Two new Governors had recently been appointed to the Governing Body with particular skill sets and she would be seeking their views for any suggested improvements that could be made. The Panel were pleased to note that the Governing Body recognised the pressures for staff and the need for support to be provided.
School's Challenge Advisor
- The Challenge Advisor, in referring to his half termly progress report for 5th December, 2016, stated that there was evidence of impact in relation to Recommendation (4) and that progress was strong. However, Recommendation (3) was progressing well but more evidence was required. Recommendation (5) was strong with satisfactory progress but further progress was required. However, for Recommendation (1) satisfactory progress was being made but there was limited impact on standards with significant work required in this area and similarly for Recommendation (2) satisfactory progress was being made but important work remained to be completed in addressing poor Mathematics and English teaching in particular.
Timescales for Results
- In recognising the timescales involved, the Chairman queried what flexibility had been given to achieve the results required. The results of recent Mathematics examinations were expected on 13th January which would, the Head teacher hoped, provide good information to assist the school, pupils had also been given two chances in the current year to sit numeracy and Mathematics papers. Information was to also be made available via the WJEC as to how each pupil had performed on each question. The English literature results were however not due until March 2017. The school was anticipating an early mock test for English Language with support from the CSC for the grading of the papers with a view to having a trusted benchmark from January 2017.
- The Panel relayed their disappointment with regard to the 2016 English results.
- In referring to the Interim Director's letter of 28th October, 2016 the Panel advised that they expected the school to meet the minimum expectations contained therein of 60% of pupils achieving A* - C grade in English Language, 60% A* - C in Mathematics, 55% achieving 5 A* - C grades including English and Mathematics, and 40% of pupils entitled to free school meals securing 5 A* - C grades including English and Mathematics.
- The Panel however, had concern with regard to the school achieving its eFSM expectations.
- The Panel subsequently recommended to the school:-
(1) THAT the minimum expectations as outlined in the Interim Director's letter be met.
(2) THAT the Panel receives the details of the November and January exam results to its January 2017 Scrutiny Committee meeting.
(3) THAT a copy of the next Challenge Advisor's report is also received by the Panel.
(4) THAT an accelerated Improvement Board be established for the school as soon as possible, the arrangements for which to be informed by the Interim Director.
Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)
- Within existing resources with the role of school progress meetings being reviewed on an annual basis.
Sustainability and Climate Change Implications
- There are no sustainability and climate change implications arising from this report.
Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)
- There are no legal implications arising from this report.
Crime and Disorder Implications
- There are no crime and disorder implications arising from this report.
Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)
- There are no equal opportunities arising from this report.
- Raising overall standards of achievement.
Policy Framework and Budget
- The recommendations of the report are within existing policy framework and budget.
Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)
- Not applicable
Relevant Scrutiny Committee
- Learning and Culture
Scrutiny Committee (Learning and Culture) Report 19th September 2016.
Mrs. Karen Bowen, Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer, Tel: 01446 709856
Interim Director of Learning and Skills
Rob Thomas, Managing Director