Agenda Item No. 8


The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Scrutiny Committee (Lifelong Learning): 8 February 2016


Report of the Director of Learning and Skills


National Categorisation - Outcomes for Vale Schools


Purpose of the Report

  1. To advise members of the categorisation of Vale schools following the national categorisation process.
  2. To highlight primary schools that may benefit from a school progress panel meeting and those schools with excellence to share.


  1. To note the categorisation of Vale schools.
  2. To conduct progress panel meetings at identified primary schools and to consider viewing some of the excellence identified in Vale schools.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To advise Members of the categorisation of Vale schools.
  2. To facilitate Members' role in promoting accelerated progress in identified schools and in recognising excellence in Vale schools.


  1. National categorisation is a three step process that results in each school being assigned to a category. This category indicates where the school is on its improvement journey and the level of challenge/support required to ensure further improvement. National Categorisation is in its second year and replaces the former banding of secondary schools and the regional arrangements for categorising schools as A,B,C or D.
  2. The first step in the national categorisation process is the assigning of the school to one of four standards groups, 1-4. This is determined by The Welsh Government using a range of data. The details of the changes made to step 1 can be found in appendix 1.
  3. The second step is to assign the school to one of four groups, A-D, that reflects the school's ability to improve. This is determined by the school's Challenge Adviser based on a range of evidence. In coming to a judgement about a school's capacity to improve the school's leaders, governors and the challenge adviser must consider:
  • the school's vision and strategy for improving pupils' achievement;
  • the capacity to plan and implement change successfully and the impact of leadership at all levels on outcomes;
  • the rigour and accuracy of the school's self-evaluation process and use of data to identify strengths and set improvement priorities;
  • the appropriateness of the school's targets and expectations for pupils' future achievement;
  • the school's track record in improving outcomes for pupils, implementing priorities for improvement, including national and regional priorities, and meeting the recommendations from inspection and from the consortium;
  • the effectiveness with which work with other schools and partners enhances the capacity to bring about improvement;
  • the extent to which school-to-school support is planned, implemented and evaluated as part of the school's improvement strategy, including collaborative activity through SIGs, pathfinder partnerships, improvement hubs and peer enquiry;
  • the extent to which the school has demonstrated the capacity to support other schools;
  • the quality of governance and how effectively governors support and challenge the school's performance;
  • the clarity of roles and responsibilities and the extent to which professional standards are met;
  • the quality of teaching;
  • the quality and accuracy of teachers' assessment;
  • the effectiveness with which pupils' progress is tracked and support provided

In addition, consideration is given to other risks' that may trigger a change to the level of support in collaboration with the local authority. These are shown in Appendix 2 of this document.

  1. The third step uses the outcomes of the first two steps to determine the category and resulting level of support/challenge needed. The categories are: Green, Yellow, Amber or Red. Each category has a different level of support and challenge, the detail is shown in Appendix 3.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The categorisation for each of the schools within the Vale of Glamorgan is provided in Appendix 4.
  2. The position of Vale schools on the grid used within the national categorisation process is provided within Appendix 5. The standards group and capacity to improve are plotted along the y and x axis respectively to determine the level of school's category.
  3. New schools, pupil referral units and nursery schools do not have a standards group as the data needed to determine the group is not available. Their capacity to improve and category is determined by the Challenge Advisor.
  4. Of the 51 Vale schools assigned to a standards group, 43.1% are in group 1, 33.3% in group 2, 21.6% in group 3 and 1.96% in group 4. (Where one school represents 1.96%).
  5. With regards to the schools' capacity to improve, of the 58 schools (Each school represents 1.72%) 36.2% are judged to be A, 56.9% B, 6.9% C and no schools judged as D.
  6. Within the Vale of Glamorgan 34.5% of 58 schools are Category Green, 55.2% Yellow, 8.6% Amber and 1.7% Red. (Where each school represents 1.72%).
  7. Appendix 6 illustrates the difference in categorisation of Vale schools when comparing the categorisation in January 15 and January 16.
  8. The percentage of schools in standards group 1 has increased to 43.1% from 20.35%, with a decreased percentage of schools in the remaining standards group.
  9. With regards to the capacity to improve, a similar number of schools are judged to be A, an increase in the percentage of schools judged to be B, with a resulting drop in the percentage of schools with a capacity to improve of C.
  10. There is an increase in the percentage of schools categorised as needing green support. There is an increase in the percentage of schools categorised as needing yellow support, with a resulting decrease in the percentage of Vale schools requiring amber or red support.
  11. In considering which primary schools would potentially benefit from a visit by the school progress panel, the Scrutiny Committee may wish to note High Street remains in Amber support category and the capacity to improve has changed from B to C. In addition Fairfield Primary school has been identified by Estyn as a primary school in which the local authority should have taken a more direct approach in challenging performance.
  12. In learning more about excellence in the Vale schools, Scrutiny may wish to ask some of the schools in which Estyn identified excellence to present their work at a scrutiny meeting. Excellence recognised in 14/15;


Case Study

Evenlode Primary

Partnership working - writing projects involving Stanwell and local business

Romilly Primary

Embedding Pupil Voice - Child friendly school improvement plan


Cross School Working - Peer observation and learning triads Nurture provision linked to family learning

St Joseph's Primary

The Learning Environment

Victoria Primary

Nurture provision for children with additional learning needs.

Stanwell Comprehensive

How the development of teaching in the school has led to excellent teaching and outcomes

Albert Primary

Pupils Shape Their Curriculum


Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. Statutory challenge, monitor and intervention functions are funded via a financial contribution to the Joint Education Service.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. There are no sustainability and climate change implications.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. The National School Categorisation System was introduced in a written statement from the Minister on the 25th February 2014 and the colour category of each school was published at the end of January 2015. The primary purpose of the National School Categorisation System is to identify schools that are most in need of support, to ensure that, in partnership with the Local Authorities and Consortia Support and Resources are effectively directed to secure improvements necessary in the school system. A number of revisions to the process were set out in a written statement by the Welsh Government on the 2nd September 2015.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. There are no crime and disorder implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. There are no equal opportunities implications.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. To support and challenge schools and settings to improve the range of teaching and learning in order to increase achievement.

Policy Framework and Budget

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

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. Not required.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Lifelong Learning

Background Papers


Contact Officer

Mike Glavin, Head of School Improvement and Inclusion

Officers Consulted

Meryl Plumber, Lead Officer for School Improvement.

Stuart Sherman, Senior Challenge Adviser, Regional Joint Education Service

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Director of Learning and Skills