Meeting documents

Education and Learning Scrutiny Committee
Friday, 9th March, 2018 11.00 am

Date: Friday 9th March 2018 Time: 11.00 a.m. Place: Penycwm School

Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

PresentAndWithAlsoReport toReport of
COUNCILLOR HAYDN TROLLOPE (CHAIR)
Item
No
Item/Resolution Status Action
PUBLIC
1. TUDALEN GLAWR AGENDA GYMRAEG/WELSH VERSION OF AGENDA COVERSHEET
Tudalen Glawr Agenda Gymraeg/Welsh Agenda Coversheet (174K/bytes)
Noted
2. SIMULTANEOUS TRANSLATION

It was noted that no requests had been received for the simultaneous translation service.

Noted
3. APOLOGIES

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors:

P. Baldwin, M. Day, P. Edwards, D. L. Elias and L. Parsons.

Noted
4. DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST AND DISPENSATIONS

Councillor J. Collins declared and interest on Item 10.

Noted
5. EDUCATION AND LEARNING SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Minutes (296K/bytes)
Cofnodion (139K/bytes)

The Minutes of the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee held on 26th January, 2018 were submitted, whereupon:-

As a point of accuracy a Member referred to Page 11 of the Minutes and requested that - "he felt it would be good practice for the Challenge Advisers to work in clusters" be included in the Minutes as it had been omitted.

RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the Minutes be accepted as a true record of proceedings.

Agreed
6. ACTION SHEET
Action Sheet (41K/bytes)

The Action Sheet arising from the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee held on 26th January, 2018 was submitted.

RESOLVED that the Action Sheet be noted and the information contained therein be acknowledged.

Agreed
7. SCHOOL CATEGORISATION 2018
Report (850K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director of Education which was presented to inform Members of the New National School Categorisation System and Blaenau Gwent School Categorisations.

The Principal Challenge Adviser spoke to the report and highlighted the key points contained therein:

- Purpose of the Report
- Background and Context
- Performance Evidence and Information
„ Primary School Categories 2017/18
„ Secondary School Categories 2016/17
- Options for Consideration

A Member stated that this was a good report but raised concern regarding the two Secondary Schools listed in the red category. He felt that with school challenge Cymru disappearing there would be a lack of support for Secondary Schools. The Principal Challenge Adviser acknowledged that Key Stage 4 was extremely important and stated that last year there had been falls in this area across the region, however these falls proved to be less than across Wales. The Member stated that the Authority was being guided by the EAS and that the problems relating to Secondary Schools in need of support desperately needed to be addressed. The Principal Challenge Adviser explained that Primary Heads had gone into Secondary schools to understand what individual primary schools were doing and this had been well received.

An issue was raised regarding the one Cluster seen as being the best in South East Wales but this was not replicated elsewhere. The Officer explained that it proved difficult to replicate one school to another as all schools had their differences.

A Member referred to the categories and asked why Green schools were not being used to support other schools to improve. The Officer said this is being done but there was autonomy within schools, and schools are at different stages. It was about the level of engagement offered, e.g. Headteacher Mentors going into schools.

A Member stated that in relation to Key Stage 3 it was known that the levels between the top and bottom were extremely wide, but stressed that sampling was desperately needed and it was crucial that it was accurate.

Another Member felt that good practice could be replicated as the background and cohort of pupils across Blaenau Gwent were very similar. The Officer agreed but suggested that individual schools aspirations and culture may not be the same, he stressed that it is about the leadership of the school and the school knowing its pupils well.

Reference was made to the 35 schools in the region and whether there had been a rise or fall in these schools. The Officer explained that there had been an increase in Amber and Red schools throughout Wales; however this was not to the same extent as in the EAS Region.

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that Option 2 be accepted, namely:

- To challenge the information contained within the report and identify where potential proposals or improvement could be made, and;

- Acknowledge the drop in performance of Primary to Secondary and evaluate the reasons for this.

Agreed
8. IMPROVING SCHOOLS PROGRAMME - 2017
Report (185K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director of Education which was presented to provide Members with an overview of those schools, over the last 3 years, that have presented a cause for concern and the work delivered or currently underway to support them to improve.

The Principal Challenge Adviser spoke to the report and highlighted the key point contained therein:

- Background and Context
„ Local Authority Powers of Intervention
- Performance Evidence and Information
„ School Categorisation 2018
„ Brynmawr Foundation (Amber to Yellow to Red)
„ St, Illtyd's (Yellow to Amber (in year) to Amber)

Brynmawr Foundation/St. Illtyd's

A question was asked as to whether it was felt that the EAS could have done more to assist the situation with Brynmawr Foundation. The Principal Challenge Adviser responded that more could have been done by the EAS, as well as the leadership at the school, the Local Authority and Estyn, however there had been a set of strong results and it was expressed that a trend as well as sustainability was needed overtime and the school definitely required stronger intervention.

A Member expressed concern that warning signs should have been detected in Brynmawr regarding the fall in results and Challenge Advisers put in place. He referred to St. Illtyd's and felt that the change in leadership half way through the year needed to be taken into account which had caused significant transformation, and the new Head was proving to be turning things around. He expressed the need for ensuring the appropriate support was given to help protect and maintain good Headteachers. Another Member concurred and felt that the Primary School pupils, as a cluster in Abertillery, were proving to be doing very well but unfortunately this seemed to change when they moved into Secondary School and this needed to be addressed.

Following a question regarding Brynmawr Foundation being due for an inspection review, the Officer advised that Estyn adopt random approach when determining which schools to inspect.

It was noted that the key to all improvements was good quality support to Headteachers who faced many challenges.

Ebbw Fawr Learning Community (red to Amber)

Reference was made to 2.8 on page 47 of the report where a Member questioned whether the review on the progress the school had made had been carried out. The Principal Challenge Adviser informed the Committee that the review had not yet been carried out and was still ongoing.

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that Option 2 be endorsed, namely.

- To challenge the information contained within the report and identify where potential proposals for improvement could be made.

Agreed
9. FINAL KEY STAGE 4 OUTCOMES 2017
Report (2M/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Principal Challenge Adviser EAS and the Corporate Director of Education which was presented to provide Members with a summary of 2016/17 Final Performance Outcomes at the end of Key Stage 4.


The Challenge Adviser spoke to the report and highlighted key points contained therein:

- Background and Context
- Performance Evidence and Information
„ Welsh Government Modelled Expectation
„ Individual Schools

Background and Context

A Member referred to 1.2 of the report where it stated that 'this year it is not possible to meaningfully compare regional or local authority results to previous years', and he reminded Officers that he had previously required a breakdown of results as he felt that there would be a fall.

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that Option 2 be endorsed, namely:

- To challenge the information contained within the report and offer feedback regarding areas which require further improvement.


Agreed
10. PROGRESS TOWARDS TARGETS - ALL SCHOOLS
Report (725K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the Report of the Principal Challenge Adviser EAS which was presented to provide Members with an update on the Progress Towards Targets reported at the end of the Autumn term, and subsequent Challenge Adviser Quality Assurance of the data submitted.

The Challenge Adviser spoke to the report and highlighted salient point contained therein:

- Background and Context
- Performance Evidence and Information
„ Key Stage 2 School Predictions
„ Key Stage 3 School Predictions
„ Key Stage 4 School Predictions

Key Stage 2 School Predictions

A Member referred to 2.1 of the report and asked how it would be known when all indicators are on target and the Principal Challenge Adviser (Interim) responded that this would be achieved by looking at individual learners.

It was noted that targets had previously been measured in two ways, however work was currently being carried out on challenging targets and it was felt that the Authority should look at added value and ensure targets are achievable as accurate assessments are important.

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that Option 1 be endorsed, namely:

- To accept the information contained in the report.

Agreed
11. SUMMARY OF SCHOOL INSPECTION OUTCOMES, AUTUMN TERM 2017
Report (149K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (281K/bytes)
Appendix 3 (285K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the Report of the Corporate Director of Education which was presented to provide Members with an update of School Inspection Outcomes for schools inspected during the Autumn Term 2017 and the outcomes of Estyn Monitoring Visits during this period.

The Strategic Education Improvement Manager spoke to the report and highlighted the Purpose of the Report as well as:

- Background and Context
„ Judgement
„ Estyn Review
„ Significant Improvement
„ Special Measures
- Performance Evidence and Information

It was requested that a letter of congratulations be sent to Glyncoed Primary School and St. Mary's RC Primary School for their continued progression, as well as the Teaching Assistant at Tredegar who had recently achieved the Teaching Assistant of the Year Award.

St, Illtyd's

Councillor J. Collins declared an interest at this point and remained in the meeting.

A Member referred the five recommendations for improvement by Estyn and enquired what evidence Estyn had and how this would be achieved. The Officer advised that the evidence was the Minutes of the Meetings as well as the Chair of Governors good evaluation. It was noted that Governors had been extremely innovative and were sharing important information with other Governors which was proving to be much more informative and a positive cultural shift.

A Member felt that it would benefit Members to have a Briefing Session on the Estyn Inspection Framework, which was agreed and the Education Project Manager undertook to make the appropriate arrangements.

It was felt by a Member that feedback of challenges by schools on Estyn inspection outcomes should be provided to the Scrutiny Committee and asked if a recommendation could be made to the Welsh Government. The Officer explained that evidence would have to be provided which was felt would be counterproductive, however this does not prevent concerns being raised through the correct channels.


RESOLVED, subject to the foregoing, that the recommendation be endorsed, namely:

- To monitor the performance of schools through their inspection reports and recommendations and provides comments where necessary;

- Consider the Council's Strategy for improving schools and the extent to which it is effective in raising standards and the equality of education provision.

Councillor J. Holt left the Meeting at this juncture.

The Principal Challenge Adviser (Interim) left the Meeting at this juncture.

Agreed
12. BLAENAU GWENT SCHOOL ADMISSIONS POLICY FOR NURSERY AND STATUTORY EDUCATION
Report (129K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (2M/bytes)
Appendix 3 (2M/bytes)

Consideration was given to the Report of the Head of Education Transformation and Performance which was presented to outline to Members the outcome of the annual review and consultation process associated with Blaenau Gwent Admissions Policy for Nursery and Statutory Education.

The Education Transformation Team Leader spoke to the report and highlighted the purpose of the report as well as the background and context.

A Member expressed concern regarding two aspects in relation to a child being on the list through no fault of their own and a child who had been permanently expelled and asked if there was a priority procedure, in that it was felt by Members that priority should be given to those children who were in the system through no fault of their own. The Officer explained that there is not a priority procedure linked to the hard to place process. In-year transfer applications are dealt with in order of receipt. Therefore, the hard to place process does not determine level of priority in terms of admission, but serves to provide early identification of pupil needs supporting informed transition.

Reference was made to the report on Post 19 provision in Blaenau Gwent and the Chair requested the report be presented to a future meeting on the feasibility of options post 19 provision for ALN learners. The Head of Education Transformation and Performance undertook to provide the report by working with the Inclusion team.

A question was asked regarding the school admissions process and children being admitted during the school Summer holidays and then turning up at school on the first day of term without the school being aware. The Head of Education Transformation and Performance said that he was aware that this had previously happened in a secondary school but all pupil admission requests should be considered. The Education Transformation Manager explained that the Authority had a duty to provide all children with a school placement. Late applications are processed within 48 hours of receipt, allocation then takes place on a weekly basis after the published offer date, in line with confirmed (by Headteachers) numbers on roll. Updated pupil lists are sent to schools over the summer period weekly, linked to late applications. The Allocation letter specifies that parents should contact the school; however, it seemed that some parents had not done this. The LA had been unable to contact the schools on occasions due to being closed for the school holidays. Where there are Business Managers in place, i.e. secondary schools, contact is made with staff as well as via email over the summer period.

A Member referred to page 163 of the report and expressed concern in relation to the children who leave Primary School and then go on to attend Secondary Schools in neighbouring authorities. He asked if figures could be shown regarding this. The Education Transformation Manager responded that this was an issue that had been monitored by the Admissions Team in recent years and was mainly dependant on the information being provided by Headteachers. A process had been established with schools in order to increase consistency of information coming from the schools to the team, linked to transfers out of the County Borough.

A question was asked in relation to page 167 regarding whether pupils applying to attend schools outside the Authority affected figures and if there was a procedure of knowing whether the children have applied elsewhere. The Officer said that this was stipulated on the appropriate forms and discussions were held with neighbouring authorities as well as parents to determine their preferred options and allocations that had been made.

RESOLVED to recommend, subject to the foregoing, that Option 1 be agreed, namely:

- Endorse the policy document and its subsequent publication.

Agreed
13. AGENDA ITEMS FOR THE NEXT MEETING OF THE EDUCATION AND LEARNING SCRUTINY COMMITTEE
Agenda Items (59K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the Agenda Items for the next Meeting to be held on Friday, 27th April, 2018.

Self-Evaluation Report - Members requested a Member Briefing Session be arranged prior to the report being presented to Members at the meeting on 27th April 2018.

RESOLVED that the Agenda Items for the next Meeting be accepted, namely:

- 21st Century Schools Band B


- Annual Progress and Impact on the Vision Statement and Core Principles for Education in Blaenau Gwent


- School Standards Monitoring Group and Well-Being in Schools


- Self-Evaluation Report


- A tour of Pen-y-Cwm School to be arranged for the Chair, Cllrs Martin Cook and John P. Morgan.

Agreed