The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet meeting: 5th October 2015

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services & Schools

School Performance Report 2014-15: Foundation Phase and Key Stages 2 to 5

Purpose of the Report

1.    To inform Members of pupil attainment and school performance outcomes.


1.    That Cabinet notes pupil attainment and school performance outcomes, based in the case of GCSE and A level examinations, on provisional data.


2.    That Cabinet notes that in accordance with the School Standards and Organisation Act (2013) formal warning notices have been issued to St Richard Gwyn and Bryn Hafren comprehensive schools and that the statutory intervention at Barry Comprehensive School has been extended to include the appointment of two additional governors.


3.    That the report is referred to Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) for consideration and that the Committee is invited to reconvene individual school progress meetings at Barry and Bryn Hafren Comprehensive Schools and to establish a meeting with St Richard Gwyn Comprehensive School.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.    To ensure Members are aware of the attainment of pupils and the performance of schools in 2014/15.


2.    To assure Members that the full powers available to the authority are being used to improve schools that are underperforming and in accordance with the School Standards and Organisation Act (2013).


3.    In order that Scrutiny Committee can review educational outcomes for Vale schools and, in relation to the named schools, to review the progress that the schools are making.


2.    Statutory end of Key Stage Teacher Assessment (TA) is administered at the end of the Foundation Phase, Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 3, when pupils are aged 7, 11 and 14 years old respectively.


3.    The National minimum expectations for pupils at the end of the Foundation Phase and Key Stages 2 and 3 are 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.


4.    Additionally, expectations for our more able pupils at the end of each phase are 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.


5.    In relation to external examinations at Key Stages 4 and 5 this report outlines performance for the measures as follows:

  • the Core Subject Indicator (CSI); the proportion of pupils attaining a GCSE A* - C in the core subjects of English, Welsh, Maths 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 Maths, English or Welsh.  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 GCSE Level 2; the proportion of pupils attaining Science GCSE A* to C.
  • A Level; the level 3 indicator measures the proportion of pupils attaining 2 or more A levels A - E.

6.    For Key Stage 4 and Key Stage 5, this report uses provisional data and comparative benchmarking information only.


7.    The Council's ambition is that educational outcomes in the Vale are the best in Wales and match those of the most successful authorities in England with similar socio economic profiles.  We also seek to ensure that all school performance is benchmarked in the high or highest benchmarking positions.


8.    In general, the Vale of Glamorgan is advantaged in terms of socio-economic deprivation.  The proportion of pupils entitled to receive free school meals (FSM) is used as a proxy indicator of socio-economic deprivation.  In 2014 -15 the Vale ranked 5th lowest overall for the proportion of pupils entitled to receive free school meals (4th lowest at primary level and 5th lowest at secondary level).  These findings indicate that the aggregated performance of Vale schools should be significantly higher than for Wales as a whole and always rank in the five highest performing Local Authorities (LAs), as a minimum expectation.


9.    In 2013, at the request of Cabinet, the Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning) established individual school progress panels.  The purpose of the panels is to ascertain whether the school has up to date and authoritative improvement plans, arrangements in place to monitor the impact of the plans and to amend the plan as appropriate and to establish what progress has been made and what further progress is required.  The panels also seek to identify any barriers to improvement that could be resolved by additional support from the Council.  

Relevant Issues and Options

10.    When considering LA performance, the key indicators for consideration are as follows:

  • Local Authority (LA) performance compared with the all Wales means and the LA performance compared to the top five highest performing LAs in Wales;
  • LA performance trends over time, when compared with the all Wales means and prior performance;
  • the relative gap in performance between LA means and the all Wales means;
  • the spot rank position of the performance of the local Authority when compared with LAs across Wales; the spot rank, preferentially, should be in first position or, as a minimum, within the top five highest performing LAs in Wales;
  • for each indicator in each phase, the proportion of schools performing in the high or highest benchmarking positions when compared with similar schools and ranked against  LAs across Wales.

11.    For benchmarking purposes a school can be located in the top two quarters, i.e. the high or highest benchmarking position in the group or in the lower to lowest two quarters. Relative performance of similar schools is then described as being either above or below the median i.e. either in the top 50%, or in the bottom 50%, of similar schools.


12.    Estyn places great emphasis on the need to ensure that at least 50% of schools across an LA, for each indicator within each phase, are located in the high or highest benchmarking positions, or above the median.


13.    Welsh Government uses this information to rank individual LAs according to the proportion of schools, in each LA, that are located above, or below the median. This is known as the LA School Benchmarking Rank comparative information.  This latter information is not yet available for 2014/15.


14.    Progress in the Foundation Phase:

  • The positive trend in improving standards continues for nearly all indicators at Outcome 5, the one exception being LLCW (Welsh), which following an increase of 5.1% last year, dipped by 0.9% in 2014/15. (Appendix 1, page 2).
  • Performance at Outcome 6+ has increased measurably for all indicators, most notably in Welsh where attainment has improved by 9.6% to 45.4%. This area is a continued focus for improvement and the impact of the support and challenge to schools has resulted in significant gains over the last three years, especially in Personal, Social Development, Wellbeing and Cultural Development.
  • The foundation phase outcome indicator (FPOI) has risen for the third consecutive year to 91.5%.  The percentage increase (+2%) is the smallest in the Central South Consortium.
  • The LA rank for FPOI 2015 has improved to third from fourth. (Appendix 1, page 8).
  • At Outcome 5+ there has been an increase in the percentage of schools performing above the median in all indicators to over 61%.
  • All Welsh medium primary schools were placed above the median for Welsh (LLCW) at Outcome 6 compared with 3 in 2014.
  • The difference in FPOI performance for those pupils entitled to free school meals (eFSM) and those that are not (non FSM) has dipped slightly from 12.5% to 12.1%.  Whilst this sustains the reduction from 21.5% in 2013, it remains an area of developmental need.

15.    Progress in Key Stage 2:

  • Standards of attainment at Level 4 continue to rise, albeit at a slower rate than in recent years, in all but Welsh 1st language, which has maintained the same high attainment as 2014, 96%. (Appendix 1, page 2).
  • Performance at Level 5+, again with the exception of Welsh 1st Language, which is comparable with the attainment of 2014, has risen again for the third consecutive year. The improvement in all four main performance indicators shows significant improvement over three years of between 9.2 and 14.4%.
  • The core subject indicator, CSI, has increased by 1.6 percentage points this academic year.  This is the third consecutive rise and maintains the Vale’s rank as second in Wales for a second year, having improved from fourth in 2012/13.
  • With regards to benchmarking, at Level 4 the percentage of schools in the first quarter, Q1 remains the same for mathematics 32% and the CSI 25%. However despite the improvement in standards, the percentage of schools in the top half has decreased this year in all 5 indicators.  The range is from 40% (Welsh) to 64% (CSI).  The percentage of schools in the lowest quarter has decreased in all indicators, with the only exception of the CSI where it remains unchanged at 18%.
  • There is a more positive picture at level 5 with a significant increase of 18.1% (6) in the percentage of schools in the higher two quarters for mathematics to 84%, and a more modest increase of 2.2% for science to 73%.  However, whilst the percentage of schools remains the same in quarter 1 for English and increased by one school for Welsh, overall there is marginal decrease in schools placed above the median to 60% (3 out of 5 schools).  No schools feature in the lowest quarter for English or mathematics. There is one school in quarter 4 for Welsh and for science.
  • The difference in CSI performance between eFSM and non FSM has increased to 17.3% from 14.8%.  This remains a significant developmental need.

16.    Progress in Key Stage 3:

  • At KS3 standards are good, having risen year on year.  (Appendix 1, page 3).
  • At level 5+ standards have improved, with an increase in all performance indicators.
  • The high expectations shared across the authority has significantly impacted on the rise in standards at this level, with significant gains  at level 6+ in Welsh of 12.2% to 66.9% and English, mathematics and science rising by more than 5% to 56%, 68% and 66% respectively.  Attainment in English remains lower than in the other subjects.
  • The improvements continue at the higher level with measurable gains in all indicators. It is at level 6+ that the greatest improvement has been seen since 2012 with improvements of over 20% in language (English and Welsh). Performance in Maths is particularly strong with 34% of learners achieving L7+.
  • The CSI has increased by a further 3.4% to 87.4%, maintaining the upward trend of the last three years.  The increase is larger this year than it was last.
  • Ranking for CSI at KS3 has improved from 7th to 5th in Wales. (Appendix 1, page 9).
  • Benchmarking at Level 5+ shows variable performance in English and Science.  The number of schools in the top two quarters increased by one (75%).  In Maths and CSI the number of schools with above median performance dropped by one (62.5%)   Performance in Welsh is in the lowest quarter.
  • At Level 6+ more schools are in the top two quarters for English (50%) and Science (87.5%), with performance in Welsh remaining at 100%.  One fewer school had above median performance in Maths this academic year making the LA result 62.5%.
  • At Level 7+, benchmarking data reflects the improved performance.  Twice as many schools had above median performance in English (75%) whilst the performance in Maths increased to 87.5% and in Welsh to 100%.
  • The narrowing of the gap between eFSM and non FSM continues, with a further narrowing to 15.9% for CSI performance.  This is less than half of the difference in 2012. It remains a focus for improvement.

17.    Progress at Key Stage 4:

  • Provisional data indicates improved performance in L2 for English (+5.2%), Maths (+1.6%) and Science (+3.5%). L2 Welsh dipped (-1.4%). (Appendix 1, page 4).
  • The CSI showed a further increase of 4.6% having increased by 9.9% last academic year.
  • The L2+ indicator has increased by 2.5 percentage points to 64.7%, ranking the Vale second in Wales. However, five schools had a fall in L2+: Bryn Hafren (-1%), Cowbridge (-10%), St Richard Gwyn (-3%), St Cyres (-2%) and Bro Morgannwg (-4%).  Individual school performance at KS4 is shown in Appendix 2.
  • It was the extent of the increase in L2+ performance in the remaining schools that led to the improvement in the local authority L2+ performance.  Stanwell's L2+ increased by 5%, Barry Comprehensive by 13% and Llantwit by 15%.
  • Based on last year's quartiles, Llantwit's improved performance gives it first quarter performance for 8 of the 9 key indicators shown whilst Stanwell has first quarter performance 8 of the 9 indicators shown.  Both Barry and St Cyres comprehensive schools show improvement in their benchmarking positions: further analysis of Barry Comprehensive's progress is included in paragraph 19.
  • There has been a slight decline in the benchmarking positions of Cowbridge and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg. The benchmarking data for St Richard Gwyn has worsened with 7 of the 9 indicators shown having performance in the bottom quarter.
  • For the level 2+ threshold the difference in performance between eFSM and non FSM shows little sign of narrowing. It was 37.6% last academic year and 37.4% this year.  It remains a significant area of developmental need.
  • When considering the L2+ performance of eFSM pupils, there are three schools where fewer than 35% of these pupils achieve the L2+ threshold: Cowbridge (33.3%), Barry (19.4%) and Bryn Hafren (23.1%).  The best performing school with regard to this indicator was Llantwit (66.7%)

18.    Progress at Key Stage 5:

  • A/S performance for the local authority improved by 2.2% for A-C grades and more entries (+1.8%) achieved grade A.  
  • Individual school performance at A/S level is difficult to compare, as it consists of the data for those pupils that 'cash in' the qualification. Schools currently have different practices with regard to cashing in. Any comparison would mean that the performance of 12 learners at one school (Ysgol Bro Morgannwg) who cashed in the qualification is compared with the 843 pupils at Stanwell that cashed in the qualifications.  Clearly this is not statistically valid.
  • At A level performance for the Vale showed a decline.  Appendix 3.
  • The percentage of entries achieving A* to A grades dipped to 22.9% from 27.9% last academic year. Fewer entries secured A* to C grades (75.5% from 76.3%) and A* to E grades (97.5% from 98%) Furthermore the performance is similar to that for the consortium when it should be significantly higher.  Post 16 performance has become a focus for development.

19.    Schools causing concern and the use of powers of intervention:

  • Barry Comprehensive School was judged by Estyn as requiring significant improvement in July 2015.  Progress against 2 recommendations was judged as satisfactory and against the remaining four as limited.  It is noted that the improved KS4 performance was not taken into account as Estyn cannot use unverified data.
  • GCSE performance has demonstrated significant improvement particularly in English and L2+.  However, despite this improvement there remains a great deal to be done. The percentage of eFSM pupils attaining the L2+ remains unacceptably low (19%).  This is despite the considerable, bespoke support that the school has received, including that provided by School Challenge Cymru and the Pathfinder initiative.  Strong progress is needed against all of the Estyn recommendations.
  • Barry Comprehensive is currently subject to statutory intervention by the Council in accordance with the Standards and Organisation Act 2008 which has now been extended to include the appointment of two additional governors.
  • Bryn Hafren remains in Estyn monitoring.  Despite making improvement in certain areas such as L2 English, now 65%, it has failed to make the improvement required in other key indicators such as L2 Maths which dropped to 42% from 47% and L2+ which dropped by 1% to 42%. In addition the percentage of eFSM pupils attaining L2+ is unacceptably low at 23%. Estyn is likely to revisit the school shortly.
  • The school has been sent a formal warning notice and has been given minimum expectations in key performance areas.  It has been informed that if these expectations are not reached, the Director of Learning and Skills will recommend to the Council that it exercises its powers of intervention in the governance and management arrangements of the school.
  • St Richard Gwyn has not made improvement and standards dipped rather than improved this year.  The benchmarking data for the school shows below median performance in most of the main performance indicators for at least two years.
  • The school has been sent a formal warning notice and has been given minimum expectations in key performance areas. In addition, it is suggested that the Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee seek to convene an improvement panel to meet with the headteacher and representatives of the governing body.  The school has been informed of the Directors intent, if the minimum standards are not met, to recommend to the Council that it exercises its powers of intervention in the governance and management arrangements of the school in accordance with the Standards and Organisation Act 2013.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

20.    The National Categorisation process seeks to identify schools that require additional support and challenge in order that resources, particularly those of the Central South consortium, are appropriately targeted.  The categorisation of schools is currently being reviewed to take into account 2014/15 outcomes and to re-target resources accordingly.  Another report on today's agenda the proposals to transform secondary education in Barry includes a recommendation for capital investment to support further progress at Barry Comprehensive School.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

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

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

22.    End of Key Stage Assessment is a statutory obligation.

Crime and Disorder Implications

23.    There are no crime and disorder implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

24.    There are no equal opportunity implications.

Corporate/Service Objectives

25.    Improving outcomes and wellbeing for all learners.

Policy Framework and Budget

26.    The recommendations of this report are within existing policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

27.    Not applicable

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

28.    Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers


Contact Officer

Mike Glavin, Head of School Improvement and Inclusion.

Officers Consulted

Meryl Plummer, Lead Officer for School Improvement

Caryl Stokes, Central South Consortium

Richard Evans, Principal Information Officer, Learning and Skills

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill

Director of Learning and Skills