Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Delyn Committee Room, County Hall, Mold CH7 6NA

Contact: Sharon Thomas / 01352 702324  Email:

No. Item


Declarations of Interest (Including Whipping Declarations)

Purpose: To receive any Declarations and advise Members accordingly.




Learner Outcomes pdf icon PDF 82 KB

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That the attainment of Flintshire children and young people for the year 2015?16 be noted.


The Senior Manager (School Improvement Systems) presented the report on pupil attainment in statutory assessments, attendance and exclusions across the primary and secondary school phases for the school year 2015-16.


The detailed breakdown of data showed a general improvement in learner outcomes for the period, with marginal progress in Foundation Phase.  The need for further improvement was recognised and schools continued to receive support to provide a platform for future development.  The projected ranking of Key Stage 2 outcomes in Flintshire as the 6th best in Wales (based on free school meal data) would be the first time of exceeding the benchmarking level and reflected strong performance in primary schools.  Whilst Key Stage 3 performance also remained strong, concerns on outcomes at Key Stage 4 were mirrored in national support category levels.


In welcoming the results of earlier key stages, Councillor Nigel Steele-Mortimer praised the effectiveness of the school network and felt that greater concentration should be directed towards improving outcomes in the secondary sector.


Councillor Colin Legg referred to the range of support and assessments available to help teachers’ development, in addition to those who sought self-improvement by other means.  In view of this, he questioned the purpose of GwE as a remedial service and asked for anonymised examples where GwE had added value to outcomes.  The Chairman agreed that this would be useful.


The Senior Manager advised that the support programme published annually by GwE set out levels of support given to schools and that there was clear evidence of a positive impact on school journeys, particularly those with improved support categories.  There was increasing recognition amongst schools on the impact of GwE, since its inception, with examples of invaluable support and the sharing of best practice which benefited the whole of the region.


Councillor Chris Bithell gave assurances that performance at secondary school level was recognised as an issue and that resources and support were being diverted accordingly.  He pointed out that issues were not generally identified until external examinations were taken at Key Stage 4.  Whilst referring to negative comments made by Estyn on the quality of teaching across Wales, he said that a range of courses were publicised by GwE to offer development opportunities to teachers and that ongoing learning was a necessity in dealing with changes in education.


Mr. David Hÿtch spoke about positive feedback from some primary sector colleagues at the School Standards Monitoring Group.  He suggested that a greater level of secondary expertise may be required in GwE and welcomed the narrowing of gaps in performance of various pupil groups.  In response to queries, the Senior Manager provided clarification on the ‘value added’ table and agreed to check whether Flintshire’s outcomes on Language, Literacy & Communication (Welsh first language) in Foundation Phase were above the GwE average, as stated in the report.  Mr. David Hÿtch also welcomed the attendance figures for Flintshire and commented on the effect on teaching when pupils were taken out of school for term time holidays.


In response  ...  view the full minutes text for item 53.


Skilled Education Workforce Shortage pdf icon PDF 104 KB

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(a)       That the contents of the report be noted; and


(b)       That the Facilitator prepare a letter from the Chairman, on behalf of the Committee, to request additional resources into schools in Wales in order to achieve the significant aims being set and to reflect the issues raised by the Committee.


The Senior Manager (School Improvement Systems) presented a report on the availability of suitably skilled personnel to positions in schools and the challenges in recruiting to vacant posts.  She provided an overview of the findings of the report which showed local and national trends such as increasing pupil numbers, class sizes and challenges in recruiting to Head Teacher posts.  Informal feedback shared by a small number of schools across Flintshire highlighted difficulties in the recruitment of specialist teachers in core subjects such as science in secondary schools and also support staff in primary schools.


Councillor Dave Mackie felt that short lead-in times to accommodate curriculum changes were a particular issue for teachers and asked if Challenge Advisors were providing adequate support to alleviate stress on teaching staff.  He added that curriculum changes in Wales were a factor in many newly qualified teachers opting to work in England and that teacher pay scales should be appropriate.


Mr. David Hÿtch spoke about the implications of the Donaldson review and stressed the importance of a measured approach to introducing curriculum changes.  In highlighting a number of areas in the data reported for Flintshire schools, he raised concerns about the significant proportion of costs claimed by agencies in engaging temporary teaching staff.  In noting the sickness absence levels for full-time teachers, he pointed out the negative effect of increased workload upon work/life balance.


Mrs. Rebecca Stark said that many issues were beyond the authority’s control and that more action was needed by Welsh Government to sustain those in the teaching profession.  Whilst noting the issues on the recruitment of Welsh teachers in response to the new GCSE requirements, she felt that a greater balance was needed in considering other much-needed languages.


The Chairman referred to the challenges in teacher retention, particularly in Wales, and said that more investment was needed in standards to encourage greater use of the Welsh language.  He also raised concerns about the lack of male teachers applying for posts in the primary sector, particular in junior schools which he felt should be addressed at national level.  He highlighted the importance of education for this particular age group where there were no limitations on class sizes and said that the lack of middle management in junior schools also had a bearing on workload.


The Senior Manager agreed that the lack of male applicants in the primary sector was disappointing and could be due to a number of reasons.


The Chairman proposed that a letter to the Minister be prepared on behalf of the Committee to request additional resources into schools in Wales in order to achieve the significant aims being set.  He asked that the issues raised be reflected in the letter and that it be circulated for additional comments prior to sending.


Councillor Nancy Matthews asked that the letter include concerns about the approach to dealing with class sizes in excess of the regulations for Foundation Phase.


In response to a suggestion by Mrs. Stark, the Senior Manager agreed to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 54.


Forward Work Programme pdf icon PDF 72 KB

Additional documents:


(a)       That the Forward Work Programme be updated; and


(b)       That the Facilitator, in consultation with the Chair and Vice-Chair, be authorised to vary the Forward Work Programme between meetings, as the need arises.


The following actions were agreed:


·         A senior representative of GwE to be invited to the next meeting on 16 March 2017 to provide an update on the service.  As requested, anonymised examples of support given to schools would also be shared.  It was also agreed that the date of the meeting would be subject to change depending on the availability of the representative.


·         To accommodate the above, the item on Curriculum Reform and Pioneer Schools to be scheduled for a future meeting in the 2017/18 municipal year and an update report on Incidents of arson, vandalism and burglaries in Flintshire schools to be circulated.


·         The Quarter 4/Year End Improvement Plan Monitoring Report scheduled for June 2017 to be withdrawn, to enable the first meeting of the new term to consider the Committee’s Terms of Reference.  An informal session would also take place with senior officers on the areas within the portfolio.




(a)       That the Forward Work Programme be updated; and


(b)       That the Facilitator, in consultation with the Chair and Vice-Chair, be authorised to vary the Forward Work Programme between meetings, as the need arises.


Members of the Press and Public in Attendance


There was one member of the press in attendance.