Meeting documents

Education and Learning Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 24th April, 2018 2.00 pm

Date: Tuesday 24th April 2018 Time: 2.00 p.m. Place: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Ebbw Vale.

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

PresentAndReport toReport of
Item/Resolution Status Action
Tudalen Glawr Agenda Gymraeg/Welsh Agenda Coversheet (171K/bytes)

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


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor H. Trollope

Mr. T. Baxter - Co-Opted Member


There were no declarations of interest or dispensations reported.

Minutes (315K/bytes)
Cofnodion (157K/bytes)

The Minutes of the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee held on 9th March, 2018 were submitted, whereupon:-

A Member referred to page 7 and requested the inclusion of a question he had raised to EAS Officers regarding the 3 green schools and 10 red schools within the region, and was concerned that the service had appropriate expertise within the secondary sector. The EAS responded that an advert had currently been issued for Challenge Advisers.

It was noted that the second paragraph of page 8 should read Key Stage 2 and not Key Stage 3.

An amendment to the Resolution of bullet point 2 was noted that should read acknowledge the increase in performance.

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

Action Sheet (50K/bytes)

The Action Sheet arising from the Education & Learning Scrutiny Committee held on 9th March, 2018 was submitted.

Councillors P. Baldwin and L. Parsons requested their names be added to the list for the tour of Pen-y-Cwm School.

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

Report (135K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (89K/bytes)
Appendix 2.1 (60K/bytes)
Appendix 2.2 (95K/bytes)
Appendix 2.3 (420K/bytes)
Appendix 2.4 (45K/bytes)
Appendix 2.5 (46K/bytes)
Appendix 2.6 (63K/bytes)
Appendix 2.7 (66K/bytes)
Appendix 2.8 (56K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director of Education which was presented to seek Members views on the Draft Self-Evaluation Policy.

The Corporate Director spoke to the report and highlighted the salient points contained therein:

- Purpose of the Report
- Background and Context
- Performance Evidence and Information
- Appendix 2
„ FADE Approach
„ Activities
„ Conclusion
- Self-Evaluation Protocol
- Self-Evaluation Toolkit

The Corporate Director informed Members that a review of the policy would be undertaken in 2020 unless there were changes to the Estyn inspection framework.

The Head of Education Transformation and the Inclusion Lead Officer also spoke to the report regarding Self-Evaluation and the FADE Register.

A Member made reference to CAMHS and related to 3 parents with children that have behavioural problems who have been waiting since July, 2017, November, 2017 and December, 2017 for an appointment with a Consultant in order to determine the support available to their child.

The Member reminded Committee that he had raised this issue on numerous occasions and felt strongly that children were losing out due to the unacceptable time in receiving the necessary support.

The Inclusion Lead Officer responded that a 2 year CAMHS In Reach Pilot was currently being carried out with ABHB, Blaenau Gwent, Torfaen and South Powys LA's which recognised that there was need for change and one of the key areas was to look at CAMHS involvement in schools. The Corporate Director concurred and stated that all schools had ELSAs with ongoing support from the Educational Psychology Service. She explained that she would be meeting with the MP on Friday, 27th April, 2018 to discuss mental health support nationally.

A Member referred to the last bullet point on Page 31 of Appendix 2 where he did not feel that the wording of 'held to greater account' was appropriate and suggested that the words 'support and challenge' should be used. The Corporate Director agreed with the Members comments but advised that the wording should remain the same as Officers and schools do need to be 'held to account' and the new Partnership Agreement sets out the relationship very clearly regarding support.

Reference was made to the SERs on Page 30 and it was felt by a Member that a Member Briefing Session should be held once a year in order to debate the full Special Evaluation Report.

A Member stated that the report was very comprehensive, however he enquired what barriers were being faced and the Corporate Director responded that it was cultural change, particularly in schools of concern, as well as literacy skills in young children needing further development.

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

For Members to support and recommend the policy for consideration and approval by the Executive Committee.

Report (139K/bytes)
Appendix 2 (341K/bytes)

Consideration was given to the report of the Strategic Education Improvement Manager which was presented to provide Members with the opportunity to consider the Summary Self-Evaluation Report for Local Government Education Services (LGES).

The Corporate Director spoke to the report and outlined the:

- Performance Evidence and Information
- Education Directorate Summary Self-Evaluation Report
„ Areas where good progress has been made
„ Areas where further improvement is required

A Member expressed concern as he felt that Blaenau Gwent did not seem to have progressed and the Corporate Director stated that there was continual improvement. The Member asked if Blaenau Gwent had progressed to the standard of the rest of Wales. The Corporate Director said that comparisons were only made with the family of schools and because Blaenau Gwent was classed as a deprived area it would be inappropriate to compare with such authorities as Monmouthshire and the Vale of Glamorgan, she therefore stated that taking this into account she felt that progress was being made.

Reference was made to the possibility that social media and texting language was having a major effect on the poor results in English. The Member referred to the presentation that had recently been held and requested a copy of the Document of Evaluation that had been referred to as it had been very informative. The Corporate Director responded that texting could possibly be having an impact on poor results in English but she assured Members that the children of Blaenau Gwent would be targeted as a priority in order to raise exam results. In relation to the Document of Evaluation that had been referred to at the Presentation the Corporate Director explained that the document contained data that was not for the public domain and was therefore unable to provide copies, at this time, but would seek permission from Headteachers.

In response to a question regarding areas for improvement and, in the Director's opinion what would be the first priority the Corporate Director stated that it would need to be language skills.

A Member referred to Performance Evidence on Page 57 of the report and reiterated his concern in relation to the 3 schools in the green category and the 10 schools in the red category. He also made reference to Page 69 of the report and the uplift of 1% in the Individual School Budget, but felt that the 1.2% drop in school deficit resulted in not having sufficient funds to initially work with. He stated that although the schools had various methods of intervention it resulted in the loss of staff to enable those interventions. The Corporate Director responded that the 1% uplift awarded by the SE Wales Consortium was very much welcomed; however the comments regarding the decrease would be taken on board.

The Strategic Education Improvement Manager stated that work was currently being carried out with schools to support them in their journey from Amber to Yellow to Green. The Corporate Director noted that the School Improvement Services offered relevant advice to local authorities.

The Head of Education Transformation advised that in the All Wales analyses of Education spend, Blaenau Gwent ranked second terms of spend per pupil.

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

- That the Committee considers and provides comments on the Revised Summary SER Document.