Agenda item

Regional School Effectiveness and Improvement Service (GwE)


(a)       That the Committee receives the updated business plan for Flintshire as appended to the report; and


(b)       That the comments of the Committee be reported back to the GwE Leadership Team and Joint Committee through the Chief Officer and Cabinet Member.



The Chief Officer (Education and Youth) introduced the report to inform the Committee of the GwE Challenge and Support Programme for schools.  He provided background information and referred to the key considerations which were detailed in the report.  The Chief Officer advised that the report included an updated business planning appendix which identified the key priorities for Flintshire from autumn 2016 and the outcome measures which will be used to judge its success.  The annual GwE updated self-evaluation for the service will be submitted to the meeting of the Committee to be held on 8 June 2017.  


The Chief Officer advised that the overarching priority of the Regional School Effectiveness and Improvement Service (GwE) was to secure improved outcomes for learners across the region al all key stages.  He explained that GwE advisors had undertaken a focused visit to all secondary schools in the Spring Term to undertake a review of the schools progress in meeting their   L2+ targets, monitoring the schools own tracking procures and collating the results already secured through early entry examinations.  He commented on the need to focus on how GwE worked with secondary schools and explained that GwE was in the main a primary service and spoke on the issues of balance between primary and secondary schools.


Mr. David Hytch referred to the vision of the Council, as linked to the Improvement Plan, which states that all Flintshire pupils experience learning which matches their individual needs (academic, emotional, social and cultural).  He welcomed this vision but raised concerns that GwE put a great deal of emphasis on the academic aspects but it was important to understand that a school covers all of the needs outlined within the vision.  He also questioned the consistency of GwE.  He said that he understood that GwE were subject to resource and manpower constraints but felt that frequent change in officers created inconsistency which was not constrictive and hoped this would improve in the future.


The Chief Officer responding and acknowledges the comments made around consistency.  He said that the key part of the work currently being undertaken was around developing the performance management arrangements for the region to ensure that challenge advisors have the relevant equipment/tools to carry out their role in a consistent manner.  He also acknowledged the comments around the Council’s vision and said that some schools were already living up to the vision and expectations of the Council but that this had to be replicated across Flintshire. 


            Councillor Dave Mackie expressed concerns around the progress which had been achieved in schools since the introduction of GwE which he felt was not as good as expected.  He commented on how the effectiveness of the GwE service was measured and monitored and said there was evidence of a fall in exam results in Flintshire from the data provided which concerned him given the level of funding provided to GwE from the Council.


            The Chief Officer explained that the progress which had been achieved in schools had been due to a ‘team effort’ and referred to the contributory factors involved.  He also thanked Members of the Committee who sat on the School Performance Monitoring Group (SPMG) for their role in ensuring improvements in schools.  He acknowledges that GwE had predominately focused on the primary school sector and that during the GwE Leadership Team meeting scheduled for the following week, discussions would be held around the need to ensure GwE fulfilled their role within the secondary sector moving forward.  He suggested that the reviewed arrangement for the scrutiny of GwE be submitted to a future meeting of the Committee.


            Councillor Mackie raised concerns that since the introduction of GwE in 2012/13, results in Flintshire had slightly declined.  Other than in Conwy County Borough Council, every other County in Wales had seen an improvement in their results.  The Chief Officer commented on the need for improvements in the tracking of school results which was currently being addressed.  He explained that secondary schools in Flintshire had seen an increase in results prior to other local authorities across Wales and since this period the results across Flintshire had been maintained.  He agreed that a push to continue to improve results was needed.  The Cabinet Member for Education explained that current projections from recent visits to all secondary schools showed a 66% target at L2+ which was just above the target. 


            In response to concerns raised around the retention of teaching staff, the Chief Officer explained that a report to provide information on how the Council was addressing the current skilled education workforce shortage would be submitted to the next Committee meeting scheduled for 2 February, 2017.                   


            Councillor David Healey concurred with the views expressed by Members concerning the effectiveness of GwE and the support mechanisms it provided to schools.  He suggested that school governing bodies should also be proactive in challenging GwE.




 (a)      That the Committee receives the updated business plan for Flintshire as appended to the report; and


(b)       That the comments of the Committee be reported back to the GwE Leadership Team and Joint Committee through the Chief Officer and Cabinet Member.


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