Agenda and minutes

Children and Young People Select Committee - Tuesday, 17th March, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: The Council Chamber, County Hall, The Rhadyr, Usk, NP15 1GA

Contact: Democratic Services 

No. Item


Declarations of Interest.


Councillor Powell declared an interest as a Governor at King Henry VIII.


Public Open Forum.


No members of the public were present.


Chief Officer for Education Annual Report - To scrutinise the performance of the service over the previous year and to consider the strategic direction for 2020-2021 (to follow). pdf icon PDF 99 KB


The Chief Officer presented his report. The purpose of the report is to inform the council of the education system’s progress in the last 12 months. In 19/20 significant milestones were reached. Many schools are on a continuous and secured improvement process. Estyn outcomes are improving – ‘Good’ is the most common outcome, but there are too few ‘Excellent’ outcomes. There has been an emergence of significant grant funding through Welsh Government.Attendance is very strong, but exclusions is an area of concern. There is an increase in the days lost per pupil at primary level.At Secondary, there is a significant increase in episodes of fixed-term exclusions and days lost in total. Richard Austin, Principal Officer for Inclusion, will come in to give further detail and explanations of what is driving them. Note that individual schools are not named in the data/graphs.


Since the work has taken place with Cluster primary schools, are Key Stage 3 pupils better off with the change from primary to secondary – has the gap lessened?

Yes, the Councillor is referring to the work between King Henry VIII and its cluster of schools. We are seeing a concerted effort across that learning continuum in establishing the right types of skills very early in the primary schools that then allow a much smoother transition, and a continued rate of progress through secondary school. We want children to be doing really well up to the end of Key Stage 2 and transition well – it’s important not to underestimate how huge the transition can be from primary to secondary, especially emotionally. There is a good example with regard to maths in King Henry and its cluster: there were children in one of our primary schools who were achieving a level 6 in maths at the end of primary, but the teacher didn’t feel confident in declaring that they were performing at that level in a sustained fashion – but having the maths expertise from the secondary school allowed them to do that. Once that is then modelled into the next level of their education, we can begin to raise expectations i.e. if a child is working at Level 6 at the end of primary, you can expect that they will be A*/A when they come to GCSEs.

Are schools which are doing well being taken as models for how to achieve higher than expected standards elsewhere?

There is a huge amount of work on this across the region. EAS has established ‘Leading Network Schools’: they advise and support other schools, there are visits to see how they work (including those outside the county). The new approach to the curriculum is predicated on that, with significant success. Many of our schools are becoming leading network schools, and are now reaching out to help others.

Is there more liaison with Gwent schools, or is it generally for SE Wales? Where’s the focus?

The focus is very much on the work in SE Wales. In education terms, ‘SE  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Scrutiny of the performance report on School Development Outcomes (to follow). pdf icon PDF 181 KB


The Officer presented the report on the quality of school improvement processes. The last few years has seen an increasing and improving trend in our performance in a number of areas, such as national categorisation (more schools classed as ‘Green’, none as ‘Red’) and in the outcome of Estyn inspections, with more schools achieving ‘Good’, and a few as ‘Excellent’. But we expect to see more. In order to secure this, we are looking at a wider range of measures and work that the schools do, in order to support that move towards further improvement. That is the basis of the report.


Why is there no comparison with SE Wales on the report for the year 19/20?

The data regionally for 19/20 is not available, but when it does become available we will update the report. But we wanted to share our own schools’ progress in this period as soon as we possibly could.

How can it be ensured that self-evaluations are of the same standard?

The quality of the school development planning and self-evaluation processes: there is no requirement now for a school to write a self-evaluation report, but it’s the quality of the process that the schools have to give them accurate judgements are evaluated through the Challenge Advice visits. Therefore, over the year, Challenge Advisors will work with the school to moderate the work that they do. For example, if there’s a learning walk, the Challenge Advisor may well be involved in that. They may well look at the moderation of Headteachers or Senior Leaders’ judgements on teachers’ observations, but they will compare those with book scrutinise, and listening to learners. The judgement overall, therefore, is that of the Challenge Advisor based on the very rich evidence-base provided by the schools.

Taking that into account, if a school self-evaluated as ‘Good’ but EAS deemed it to be ‘Adequate’, who would be the external moderator of the standard levels?

The National Categorisation Process is used as a summary – a point in time – of where the school is. The information that’s collected by the Challenge Advisor feeds into that report, and the information from the National Categorisation report will reflect the quality of self-evaluation processes that we’ve used here. So it has been through a process itself. Estyn will come to a school and look at it in a snapshot of time, and not necessarily focus on everything in this current model. There is a degree of assurance from our point of view that the judgements we’re looking at here are made by the Challenge Advisor based on what they’ve seen and worked on within the school, and that will then be moderated within EAS through their discussions with their principal Challenge Advisor in order to make sure there’s consistency within that team as well.

What things will be put in place to help schools to drive towards excellence?

Last year a regional protocol was initiated for looking at school development planning. Schools were invited  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting. pdf icon PDF 147 KB


The minutes of the previous meeting held on Tuesday 28th January 2020 were confirmed and signed as an accurate record.



Children and Young People Select Committee Forward Work Plan. pdf icon PDF 287 KB


Richard Austin will be invited to discuss exclusions. The Chair notes it is important in the future to have more input from schools in this committee. There is a concern about the loss of pupils to schools outside Monmouthshire – Chepstow to Wyedean and Abergavenny to Crickhowell, for example. We would want to retain as many primary pupils as possible at secondary level. Cluster working helps with this, though. For example, there will be more Goytre children in secondary schools from September due to the Cluster working.

For the ALN update in April, Councillor Brown has requested an update on the pupils from Mounton House regarding their alternative learning arrangements. For ‘Progress on Curriculum reform’, it would be helpful to ask pilot schools to come to committee. Regarding the Welsh medium, the Chair notes that the new school is something the public has asked about, but that might have to be pushed back as an agenda item given current events.



Council and Cabinet Work Plan. pdf icon PDF 334 KB


Nothing was discussed.



Next Meeting: Tuesday 28th April 2020 at 10.00am.


The next meeting is on Tuesday 28th April 2020, pending any changes in light of the coronavirus.

Though there was a constitutional amendment for members’ remote attendance at meetings, there are still some technological limitations to be overcome. There is some money in the budget available for improvements. This is being looked at, especially in light of Coronavirus and its possible implications for attendance.