Agenda and minutes
Lifelong Learning Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 19th July, 2018 2.00 pm
Venue: Meeting Room 1, Guildhall
Contact: Tracy Davies Scrutiny Facilitator
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillors R Alun Jenkins and Rondo Roberts and co-opted member Mr Brent Evans.
To sign as a correct record the Minutes of the Meeting held on 21 June 2018
AGREED – That the Minutes of the Meeting held on 21 June 2018 be signed as a correct record.
To consider the report of the Head Finance
The Head of Finance submitted a report (HF/85/18s) to assist the Committee in considering and agreeing its work programme.
Members’ attention was drawn to the following matters:
· The response at paragraph 4.4 of the report from the Education Spokesperson and Leader of the WLGA, Councillor Debbie Wilcox in respect of the Committee’s concerns regarding the sharing of pupil data between schools and further education colleges.
· Reminder that the new standardised reporting of education standards in local authorities in North Wales would mean that, although a breakdown of results by individual schools could be provided to Members, there would no longer be any benchmarking data or comparisons with other authorities in the report. GwE officers present at the meeting explained the rationale behind this approach and referred to workshops to be held in September to raise Members’ awareness and understanding prior to future scrutiny. Members agreed to replace the Scrutiny All Member Workshop – Education Department Self Evaluation – scheduled for 25 September at 10am, with the aforementioned GwE workshop, noting the comments of the Head of Education in respect of the current Estyn consultation on new Education Department Inspection Framework which would delay the Education Department Self Evaluation until Spring 2019, although the self evaluation process was ongoing in the department. Given the importance of the GwE All Member Workshop it was proposed that in the event of low attendance a repeat session be arranged.
· Noted that the September meeting of the Committee was reserved for consideration of proposed budget savings for 2019/20 and 2020/21. It was agreed that should no items be submitted by Members for scrutiny, the meeting will be cancelled.
AGREED – That, subject to the aforementioned, the work programme be agreed.
To consider the report of the Head of Finance
The Head of Finance submitted a report (HF/68/18s) to consider the Annual Report of GwE (North Wales Regional School Improvement Service) 2017/18 attached at Appendix 1.
The Chair welcomed to the Meeting Arwyn Thomas, Managing Director of GwE and Alwyn Jones, GwE Assistant Director. Arwyn Thomas presented the report referring to key successes from the past 12 months which included the development of a strong working relationship with the Local Authority, changes to way of working moving away from challenging to supporting teaching and learning and the change from the hub approach which enabled resources to be moved around the region more effectively. He further stated that GwE’s performance in the main key indicators in Key Stages 2 and 3 results had been the highest of the four consortia, but that work remained in improving the Foundation Phase and Key Stage 4.
Arwyn Thomas commented that improving standards in Wrexham at Key Stage 4 was a key priority for GwE, reporting that secondary schools in Wrexham received approximately 500 days of GwE support last year compared to the standard level of support which was 225 days. Changes in leadership at 3 secondary schools in Wrexham in the coming academic year would contribute to improvements along with stronger partnership working, sharing best practice amongst schools and an improved professional offer for teachers and aspiring leaders.
Members were reminded of the significant changes nationally which would impact on the improvement journey which included the new curriculum, Additional Learning Needs reforms, new standards for leadership and new standards for teaching.
The Chair then invited the Committee to ask questions of the officers and Lead Member present and the following matters were referred to in debate:
· The reported changing culture in some secondary schools in Wrexham in sharing good practice was welcomed. GwE officers were confident that schools fully understood their role in school improvements and the role of the local authority and GwE. The Managing Director of GwE stated that it was anticipated that there would be an improvement in education standards in Wrexham by this time next year.
· The importance of effective leadership in driving up school standards. Noted that each Head Teacher would have their own improvement plan to progress their own and their school’s development.
· Request to improve the format of the data presented in the report. GwE officers commented that future reports would only provide the vision, executive summary and business plan priorities.
· Concern expressed at the level of performance at key stage 4 in Wrexham and clarity was sought on GwE’s focus to bring Wrexham up to the expected level. GwE officers confirmed that Wrexham performance remained a priority but also stressed the need to have realistic expectations. GwE officers were looking to sustain the same level of support for Wrexham schools.
· The need to ensure that performance targets were both deliverable and appropriate which alongside effective tracking and consistent assessment would enable appropriate support to be provided to schools.
· National curriculum reforms which could result ... view the full minutes text for item 13.
Any other items which the Chair decides are urgent
Noting that this would be her last meeting as a co-opted member of the Committee, the Chair paid tribute to the hard work and dedication of Mrs Maureen Williams and wished her well for the future, sentiments which were echoed by members of the Committee.