Agenda Item No


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Cabinet Meeting : 3rd November 2014


Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services


School Performance Report for the end of Key Stages 4 and 5


Purpose of the Report

1.         To inform Members of school performance in external examinations in 2014.


1.         That Members note the attainment at KS4 and KS5 in 2014.

2.         Members note that in accordance with the School Standards and Organisation Act (2013) that two comprehensive schools are no longer subject to a formal warning letter, therefore, the Scrutiny School Progress meetings are no longer required to take place.

3.         That Members note that formal intervention powers have been used in relation to Barry Comprehensive School.

4.         That Cabinet request Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) to set up an individual school progress meeting with Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School and closely monitor the progress of the Accelerated Improvement Board in Barry Comprehensive School.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         To ensure that members are aware of the performance of schools.

2.         Two schools previously in receipt of formal warning notices have made rapid progress and there is therefore no need for local authority intervention.

3.         That although progress has been made by the school it is insufficient to meet all the agreed targets.

4.         To ensure processes are in place to hold schools to account for the quality of education provided.


2.         Our ambition is that educational outcomes are the best in Wales and match those of the most successful authorities in England with similar socioeconomic profiles.

3.         External GCSE examinations are undertaken by pupils at the end of Key Stage 4, in the core subjects of English, Maths and Science as well as in the non-core subjects.  A levels are undertaken at the end of Key Stage 5.

4.         This report outlines performance for the measures as follows:

·           the Core Subject Indicator (CSI); those pupils attaining a GCSE A* - C in the core subjects of English/Welsh, Maths and Science:

·           Wider Points Score

·           Level 1 Threshold; proportion of pupils attaining 5 GCSEs A* to G

·           Level 2 Threshold; proportion of pupils attaining 5 GCSEs A* to C

·           Level 2+ Threshold; proportion of pupils attaining 5 GCSEs A* to C including English/Welsh and Maths.  This is the government's preferred measure of educational attainment.

·           English GCSE Level 2; the proportion of pupils attaining English GCSE A* to C

·           Maths GCSE Level 2; the proportion of pupils attaining Maths GCSE A* to C

·           Science Level 2; the proportion of pupils attaining Science GCSE A* to C

·           The progress of pupils entitled to free school meals compared with pupils without an entitlement

·           The proportion of schools performing in the upper quartiles

·           A Level; the level 3 indicator measures the proportion of pupils attaining 2 or more A levels A - C.

5.         This report uses provisional data and comparative benchmarking information.

Relevant Issues and Options

Key Stage 4


6.         There are many successes to report with reference to KS4 attainment this year. Provisionally the Vale of Glamorgan is ranked 2nd highest in Wales with an overall performance at Level 2+ of 62.2%.  This is a 6.8% rise in performance from 55.4% in 2013 with improved performance at all eight comprehensive schools on this performance measure.

7.         Two schools have performance amongst the highest in Wales at level 2+.  Cowbridge is 2nd in Wales with 85% of students achieving 5 A*- C grades including English and mathematics, and Stanwell is ranked 4th in Wales with 82% of students achieving this outcome.

8.         A breakdown of the overall results (Appendix 1) indicates that with the exception of the L1 Threshold which has decreased by 0.6 pt to 94% and L2 Welsh which has decreased from 83% to 79%, all other indicators have significantly increased.  The Core Subject Indicator (CSI) has risen to 58% from 50.2%, the Level 2 threshold has risen from 82.6% to 87% and the Level 2+ threshold has risen by 6.8pt to 62.2%.  Reflecting on the provisional data, all eight secondary schools achieved their agreed targets for the Level 2 threshold; six of the eight achieved the agreed target for Level 2+

9.         Appendix 2 provides the performance for individual schools in the Vale of Glamorgan (provisional data only).  This demonstrates some significant gains and very little deteriorations.

10.      Appendix 2 also includes information about benchmarked performance which compares the performance of schools with that of other schools with similar proportions of pupils entitled to free school meals.  More performance is in benchmark groups 1 and 2 compared with 2013.  On eight of the nine measures 50% or more of the schools are in the upper benchmarking quartiles (1 or 2): performance at the level 1 threshold is weaker with only 25% of schools in the upper quartiles.

11.      Appendix 3 provides comparative information with Wales based on provisional data for WJEC entries only. This indicates a 1.2pt increase in the percentage of students achieving A*/A from 22.7% in 2013 to 23.9% in 2014 compared with the National average rise of 0.2pt. For A*-C grades there was a 3.9pt increase in attainment from 67% in 2013 to 70.9% in 2014.

12.      The proportion of pupils entitled to a free school meal who achieved the L2+ threshold in the Vale was lower in 2014 (29.9%) compared with 32.5% in 2013 (Appendix 4).  The gap between the performance of pupils entitled to free school meals and those who are not widened on this measure of performance from 27.4% to 38.2%.  Taking into account the priority attached to tackling the impact of poverty on educational outcomes this is an area for further focussed work.

Key Stage 5

13.      Appendix 5 shows the school level A Level profile; with all but one school showing an increase in the Level 3 with the exception of St Cyres whilst still performing at 98% is 1pt lower than 2013.

14.      Appendix 6 is based on provisional data for WJEC entries only.  It shows the A and AS level performance profile set against the all Wales means; grade proportions for AS levels show a decrease in A and A*- C with a marginal increase in A* to E.

15.      A Level performance at A* saw a marginal decrease (0.1%) whilst proportions at grade A and A* to C observed an increase of 1.2 and 1.5 respectively.

Schools Causing Concern

16.      The three schools in receipt of formal warning letters in 2013 have all improved pupil attainment with Llantwit Major and St Cyres making very good progress and no longer being subject to a warning letter.  Both Llantwit Major and St Cyres responded positively to the challenge and support provided.  Their substantial progress has been underpinned by increasingly strong self-evaluation by the Governing Body and senior leadership team, focussed and strong leadership by the Headteacher and effective use of the challenge and support provided by the Central South Consortium.

17.      Barry Comprehensive School had improved its pupil attainment but progress continues to be insufficient and intervention has proceeded.  Intervention consists of:

·           Firstly, building on the pathfinder initiative which is already underway, we require the school to collaborate with Treorchy Comprehensive School, Rhondda Cynon Taff, in order to access new perspectives, support and expertise.  This intervention is intended to support the delivery of the target that 85% of lesson observations are good or better as monitored by the Accelerated Improvement Board.

·           Secondly, following the recent changes within the governing body and the establishment, as part of the Schools Challenge Cymru programme, of the Accelerated Improvement Board we propose to consider in early November whether or not the governing body is providing sufficient leadership and challenge.  We would seek the advice of the school’s challenge advisor at that juncture to inform our judgement about the effectiveness of the leadership and challenge provided by governors.  It is essential in our view that the governing body has a clear understanding of the challenges that face the school, the improvements that are required, the challenge that this presents to the senior leadership team and the vital role that the governing body can play in securing accelerated progress and that its work programme is clearly aligned to these circumstances. 


18.      We are hopeful that the evidence at that time will conclude that no action is necessary but, if that is not the case, we propose to appoint additional governors to augment the governing body to contribute to the leadership of the school in meeting the targets in the improvement plan.  We would subsequently monitor the leadership and challenge provided by the augmented governing body, again taking advice from the challenge advisor. 

19.      In the event that this intervention had not demonstrated any impact by the summer, we would, at that juncture, consider the establishment of an Interim Executive Board to replace the Governing Body: any such proposal at that time would be the subject of formal consultation with the governing body.

20.      The school is supported by the Welsh Government Schools Challenge Programme: providing a Challenge Advisor, an Accelerated Improvement Board and additional funding to support the implementation of an improvement plan. 

21.      Work in relation to Bryn Hafren School will be reported to Cabinet at the meeting.

22.      At Cabinet's request Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee established a panel earlier this year to undertake school progress meetings. The Scrutiny Committee plans to reconvene this meeting.  It is now suggested that panels are reconvened for Barry and Bryn Hafren schools.  Further visits to Llantwit Major and St Cyres are not suggested.

23.      The Council will continue to work closely with the Central South Consortium Joint Education Service to monitor individual school progress.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

24.      The Council's financial contribution to the Joint Education Service will ensure schools are effectively monitored, challenged to improve, supported and recommend intervention if required.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

25.      High levels of pupil attainment underpin a sustainable economy.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

26.      End of Key Stage Assessment a statutory obligation.  Formal warning letters and statutory intervention are undertaken in accordance with the School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 and the associated statutory guidance.

Crime and Disorder Implications

27.      There are no crime and disorder implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

28.      There are no equal opportunity implications.

Corporate/Service Objectives

29.      Improving outcomes and wellbeing for all learners.

Policy Framework and Budget

30.      The recommendations in this report are within the existing policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

31.      Not applicable.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

32.      Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

Estyn common inspection framework for schools

Contact Officer

Meryl Plummer, Lead Officer for School Improvement


Officers Consulted

Paul Wolstenholme, Senior Challenge Advisor, Central South Consortium


Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Director of Learning and Skills