The Committee received a report in respect of the School Progress Panel meeting that had been held at Bryn Hafren Comprehensive School undertaken by a Panel of three Members of the Committee which was presented by the Director of Learning and skills.  The Panel members had comprised Councillors N.P. Hodges (Chairman of the Panel), Mrs. M.E.J. Birch and Mr. L. Kellaway;  and Councillor C.P.J. Elmore (Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and Schools);  Mr. T. Davies (Headteacher), Mrs. C. Tyler (Chairman of Governors), Mrs. J. Hill (Director of Learning and Skills), Mr. M. Glavin (Head of School Improvement and Inclusion), Mr. S. Sherman (Challenge Advisor), Ms. A. Davies (Member of Senior Leadership Team and Member of the Governing Body Standards Committee) and Mrs. K. Bowen (Democratic and Scrutiny Services Officer) had been in attendance.  

The meeting had been convened as a result of the recommendation of the Panel in February 2014 to revisit the school following the GCSE results in August 2014.  The letter of the Director of Learning and Skills in November 2014 had noted that pupil attainment at Key Stage 4 had improved on most measures and that on a number of measures the school continued to perform well compared with other similar schools.  However, concern remained in relation to the key measures of performance at Level 2 in Mathematics, English and the proportion of students attaining 5 A*-C grades including English or Welsh and Mathematics where performance continued to be weaker than other similar schools.

Of further note was the fact that attendance levels had also not increased as rapidly as other schools and were in the bottom quarter compared to other similar schools.

As a result, the minimum targets for 2014/15 which had been agreed with the school were as follows:


2014/15 Minimum Agreed Target
Level 2 English 63%
Level 2 Mathematics 54%
Level 2 Plus 48%
Attendance 93.3%


The Panel meeting had therefore been 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.  

At the Panel meeting held in January 2015 the Headteacher referred to the awareness by staff that the school needed to improve however he confirmed, that in Key Stage 3 all subjects had seen progress being made at Level 5+ since the last inspection in 2012.  Comparison with like schools had also improved as the benchmark profile improved, plus the fact that in nearly all the subjects the school was outperforming the family of schools' average.  However, whilst there had been progress at Level 5 in comparison with other schools, work needed to now focus at the higher levels of 6 and 7 where the statistics were not showing such favourable comparisons.  With regard to Key Stage 4, progress had been made since the previous inspection although the results in August 2014 had shown that key targets had not been met.  Attendance levels had not increased as rapidly as other schools.

Since the GCSE results in 2014 a number of measures to improve performance had been put in place by the Headteacher, following his appointment, as outlined below:

  • Both the English and Maths Departments offered a number of revision sessions for example regular after-school clubs, revision days before exams and early morning revision sessions on the day of examinations.
  • An ME+3 project had been established which had encouraged more strategic focus on level 2+.  These meetings discussed progress and challenged staff in order to facilitate improvement of borderline pupils at D/C+ to improve the Level 2+.  
  • Extra classes had been created in English and Maths
  • Year 9 pupils had commenced English and Maths GCSE courses which would support early entry in later years.
  • Resources had been targeted for English and Maths for targeted pupils with more feedback being obtained in relation to borderline pupils.
  • Newly purchased Apps and Twitter were used to aid pupil revision.
  • In relation to the revision clubs some girls were specifically targeted to attend sessions.
  • For Maths, Set 2s had been given an additional teacher to split the class into different tier pupils which offered an increased level of teacher support,
  • Regular Saturday morning revision sessions had been run with attendance on all occasions being over 30 of the 40 targeted pupils.
  • Since Christmas the ME+3 project had increased in pace with 10 Saturdays being identified for extra English and Maths sessions with additional pupils being invited to attend,

The Panel had also been informed that the school would be considering hiring a Maths teacher to work with a targeted group from April to May 2015 and the school currently worked closely with the Consortium staff to assist with English and Maths. However it was accepted that such provision may not be able to be sustained year on year and that some of the measures had only be introduced following the examination results in August 2014.  The school had adopted a new and improved evaluation system which had a strong focus on lesson observations and an increased dialogue between the school's leaders and staff was now taking place.  All 65 teachers had been observed during the term and a common lesson observations proforma had been used to record strong features of lessons and areas that required improvement.

Teachers were being charged with making improvements on suggested areas by the time of the second observation in Spring 2015.  Following the analysis of the lesson observations suggestions for improvements had been made.  Teachers had also been allocated teaching pods and all staff were undertaking a programme called "Embedding Formative Assessments" and regularly meeting to discuss teaching strategies.  Members of the pods also peer observed each other to aid discussion around strategies.  The self-evaluation system included pupil voice exercises, book reviews, scheme of learning audits and department / year team reviews which the Panel was informed had fostered dialogue and appropriate support and challenge.

The Challenge Advisor had also confirmed that rapid improvements had been made to the leadership and management of teaching during the Autumn term, which now provided a much more secure basis for systematic improvement and quality of provision.  The impact was evident in terms of the actions of senior and middle leaders of the school, as well as an understanding of good teaching by teachers.  However, there was little evidence yet of the impact on the standards achieved by pupils and, as such, he had deemed progress to be reasonable but not strongly so.

With regard to attendance figures for the Autumn, this now stood at 92.18% with the minimum attendance target being 93%.  Acknowledgement was made that the school was not as focused on attendance as it should be, but that there was considerable work being undertaken by the Deputy Head in relation to improving attendance with the school adopting the "Bobbies on Call Scheme" and receiving advice from the Education Department.  The school would also be considering putting in place procedures that had been developed by Treorchy Comprehensive School and would be contacting that school in due course for advice.  The Callio system was currently being adhered to and although there had been a number of initial difficulties, these had been improved upon and the school was now working more closely with the Local Authority.  In order to improve on attendance the school had also instigated a number of initiatives.  The Director of Learning and Skills advised that a number of schools in the area had been successful at increasing attendance levels and encouraged the school to seek further support and good practice ideas to assist in raising the level.

The Director of Learning and Skills,  in conclusion referred to the Panel’s decisions which included that there was a measure of confidence that the school would meet the target in English which had been evidenced at the meeting but that it had limited confidence in the school meeting the Maths target.  The Panel had welcomed all the measures and procedures that the school had put in place and had also been pleased with the decision of the Governing Body to appoint a Standards Committee.  They also welcomed the enthusiasm of the Headteacher, but acknowledged that the evidence would be determined following the results in August 2015.  The Panel also wished to see improvement in attendance and urged that further work was pursued to seek that improvement.  They welcomed the number of initiatives that had been introduced at the school.

The Chairman took the opportunity to thank the Members and officers who had taken part in the Panel Progress meeting and advised Members that the school had received a formal letter regarding the Panel’s findings shortly after the meeting.  He reassured the Committee that all present at the time, had considered that they had had a fair hearing and that the final proof would be in the results in August 2015.  

The Chairman further stated that he had welcomed the Headteacher’s enthusiasm and the progress that had been made to date in particular the number of initiatives and procedures that had been put into place to increase performance.  The Chairman of Governors had also confirmed her commitment and keenness to improve with all present at the panel meeting recognising that the concerns were starting to be addressed.

Following consideration of the report, the Scrutiny Committee subsequently


(1)    T H A T the School Progress Panel’s findings as detailed in paragraph 27 of the report be accepted.

(2)    T H A T an update report be presented to the Scrutiny Committee in the Autumn following the GCSE results in August 2015, at that time the Committee would consider whether a revisit would be required.

(3)    T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet for consideration and / or approval.

Reasons for recommendations

(1)    In view of the findings contained within the report.

(2)    To monitor progress.

(3)    For Cabinet consideration.”

Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning): 20th April, 2015