Agenda item

Regional School Effectiveness and Improvement Service (GwE) Annual Report 2021-2022


That the Committee accept the Annual Report from GwE, whilst noting the positive impact of the regional service in supporting Flintshire schools throughout the pandemic, maintaining the focus on effective and successful schools and supporting schools in their preparations for the implementation of the new Curriculum for Wales.


            The Chair thanked GwE for the support they had provided during the Pandemic to school leaders and for their continuing support to Flintshire schools with the roll out of the Curriculum for Wales (CfW). 


Mr Martyn Froggett (Supporting Improvement Adviser) explained a presentation had been prepared which was in addition to the reports attached to the agenda.  He introduced Phil McTague (Secondary Core Lead) and David Edwards (Primary Core Lead) who would also be assisting with the presentation which focussed on work currently undertaken in schools, information on Welsh Government (WG) policies and pandemic recovery support for schools.


The Primary Core Lead gave a presentation which covered the following areas: -

·         The three main priorities for GwE:-


ØImplementing Curriculum for Wales

ØEnsuring robust self-evaluation processes

ØEstyn Inspections


·         Primary – Curriculum for Wales


Øidentified the unique factors of their school and how these contribute to the four purposes

Øreviewed their vision, values and behaviours to support the curriculum

Øbeen mindful of the key considerations e.g. statutory and mandatory elements

Øreviewed curriculum design models

Øconsidered the role of progression and pedagogy in their curriculum

Øbegun to design, plan, trial and evaluate new topics. 


·         Primary – Self-evaluation & quality assurance


·         Primary – Estyn Inspections


The Secondary Core Lead continued with the presentation which covered the following areas: -


·         Secondary – Support for Curriculum for Wales


Ø  All Flintshire schools have made extensive use of the regional support programme

Ø  Engagement in regional /local planning groups is good.

Ø  Schools have taken up the offer of specific for bespoke input from the GwE team on teaching and learning

Ø  There is increasing collaborative work through clusters and through alliances

Ø  ‘Six Steps’ reports (focussing on the Education Minister’s requirements of progress toward CfW) were undertaken with all schools in the summer term following discussions between schools and their SIAs


·         Secondary – self-evaluation & quality assurance


·         Preparation for inspection in secondary schools under the new Estyn Framework


            In response to a question from Councillor Andrew Parkhurst on the robustness and objective measurement of Estyn Inspections, Mr Martyn Froggett (Supporting Improvement Adviser) said previously with Estyn focussing on exam results the work that pupils had achieved in the classroom had taken second place.  Now Estyn’s base of evidence was the books the pupils were currently working from and the lessons that they were having which were moderated and he explained how this would work in schools.  GwE were supporting schools but said that it would take some time for the shared understanding of progression to be established.



            Mr Phil McTague (Secondary Core Lead) explained that it was the in-school variant which was more significant, and he explained what GwE were focussing on.  He provided information on the question level analysis which would enable training strategies to be provided to bring about improvements.  The data for the in-school variants, the question level analysis and classroom observations would drive progression and standards.   He felt that this ensured a more research informed accountability in schools rather than comparing one school to another as regards progress especially as data is one element of a school’s performance.   



Councillor Dave Mackie outlined his view on the role of Members at Scrutiny Committees and the need to ask questions relating to reports presented to the Committee.  He raised concern that the presentation provided did not relate to the report but focussed on priorities for the future.  He raised a number of questions on the data provided in the report and questioned the need for additional explanations to the data.  


 In response the Chief Officer (Education & Youth) said that a significant amount of documentation had been appended to the report which reflected on the work of the School Improvement Service over the last 12 months.  The presentation was provided to reassure members of the current position of the service in the new academic year and the focus moving forward building on the priorities for improvement reflected in the reports.  Evaluation had been undertaken at GwE level, Local Authority level, through Management Board and the Joint Committee to identify the direction of the service going forward.  GwE was a joint service commissioned with all six local authorities in Wales and she understood Councillor Mackie’s comments around value for money and said that combined with the next report on Self Evaluation Members should be assured that the Council was getting value for money.  The progress and strong performance within schools was being seen in the standards achieved and was an indication of the extensive support provided by GwE through the school improvement advisers to schools and head teachers and the significant level of engagement with the professional learning provided by GwE to Flintshire schools.


The Chief Officer agreed to feedback Councillor Mackie’s comments regarding comparison data to Management Board but added the service had to change its model as the situation in schools had changed with statutory education suspended.  Inspections ceased with WG making several changes with the focus on safety and well being of staff and pupils.  During the last year the focus had been on education but within the constraints of the Pandemic and she outlined the implications.  The reports tried to outline the core purposes and situations in schools, but the focus was now getting back to the school improvement function, quality self-evaluation and the quality of teaching learners in the classroom.  Flintshire schools were responding well to those quality interventions which ensured learners achieved their best possible outcomes.   Where there were concerns, she outlined the detailed mechanisms in place to provide extra interventions to ensure they were effective.


Councillor Mackie replied that the role of Members was to be a critical friend and provide challenge.  He felt that the critical element was that GwE had not provided the objectives they were looking for, the path they would take to achieve those objectives and obtain the improvement identified.  He felt that this information should be provided in order for Members to undertake appropriate scrutiny. 


Councillor Bill Crease said that moving away from exam centric performance evaluation to pupil centric performance appealed greatly to him but had its own challenges to evaluate progress.  He agreed with the comments made by Councillor Mackie and said that being able to evaluate and attempt valuable scrutiny of the reports was difficult and said that the data needed to be more focused.


The Chair said that she saw GwE as a supportive critical friend with high expectations for our schools.  She understood that the Curriculum for Wales considered partnership working between schools, WG, GwE and interested service providers.  She also understood that WG were working to provide resources to support this Curriculum and valued the presentation.  The report provided information on the work which had preceded but the presentation outlined what would be happening moving forward.  GwE provided valuable support to schools and that the end point of a child’s education was not going to be measured on their exam results and that there were so many other things within schools which had to be observed. 


The Senior Manager for School Improvement reported that the landscape was changing from focused accountability to looking at the whole provision of education and that her role was to scrutinise GwE and that the objectives within the report were for the whole system alongside  the other 5 Local Authorities and  to drive standards nationally across Wales.   The detailed operational activity was on a school-to-school basis, and she welcomed the support of GwE to enable the research for each individual school to ensure inconsistencies were tackled, standards were raised, and best practice was shared across all areas.  Talking to learners, looking at evidence, skills progression and well being would raise standards across Wales for all learners.  The core vision, purpose, accountability framework, support for children with additional learning needs would drive this forward. 


The Chief Officer acknowledged that there had been a significant workload for Members due to the number and scale of the reports as GwE were keen to share the level of work and transformation following the pandemic together with information on the implementation of the new Curriculum.  She provided information on the Management Board and GwE Joint Committee saying these reports had been presented to these committees.  The feedback on the reports as regards size, scale and focus would be taken back.  


The Facilitator confirmed that she had made note of the questions made by Councillor Mackie and would be taking those up as actions following the meeting.


Councillor Mackie referred to the Chief Officer’s comments and said if more focussed reports could be included in the recommendations and if more information was required then this could be dealt with as a workshop which would enable officers to brief members.


The recommendation, as outlined within the report, was moved by Councillor Paul Cunningham and seconded by Councillor Gladys Healey




That the Committee accept the Annual Report from GwE, whilst noting the positive impact of the regional service in supporting Flintshire schools throughout the pandemic, maintaining the focus on effective and successful schools and supporting schools in their preparations for the implementation of the new Curriculum for Wales.


Supporting documents: