Agenda item

Agenda item


To consider a report by the Principal Education Manager (copy enclosed) on the findings of the study undertaken on Year 10 pupils from choice subjects to attainment.


10:05 a.m. – 10:45 a.m.


In welcoming the Lead Member for Education, Children and Young People, the Head of Education and Children’s Services and the Senior School Improvement Officer – Secondary to the meeting to present the first report, the Committee congratulated them on their hard work which had resulted in Estyn, following its recent inspection, judging the Service to be achieving good outcomes, delivering quality education services and to have excellent leadership and management.  The leadership qualities of the Head of Education and Children’s Services had been cited as “highly effective and exemplary”, members congratulated her and asked her to convey their congratulation to all staff within the Service.


The Lead Member for Education, Children and Young People introduced the report (previously circulated) which sought the Committee to consider the findings of the study undertaken on Year 10 pupils from choice of subjects to attainment.  During his introduction the Lead Member informed the Committee that the Council’s Corporate Plan for 2017-2022 included an ambition to see every child that was achieving the expected standard at the end of primary school, achieving as a minimum 5 GCSEs A* - C (including English or Welsh and Maths) by the end of secondary school.  Estyn had referred to this ambition in its recent report.


The Head of Service advised that the Council acknowledged that a deficit in attainment existed between Key Stage (KS) 2 and KS4, with performance dipping significantly in the region of 20% to 25% between both key stages.  Officers had devised a number of intervention measures to support pupils transferring from primary to secondary schools in a bid to make sure that they did not become excluded or disengaged with the education process and consequently under achieve, as this could impact on their life outcomes.  Listed in the report were the different types of support and intervention measures available to pupils.  A number of intervention measures could be triggered if a pupil was beginning to disengage with the education system i.e. by the use of the TRAC system.  This system would identify the most appropriate type of support for a pupil on an individual basis, including the most effective educational environment required to support their learning to ensure the pupil thrived and achieved their potential.  However, it was important to realise that not all pupils would achieve the Level 2 inclusive threshold at KS4, nevertheless the aim was to ensure that they would achieve to the best of their ability. 


Denbighshire tracked each individual pupil from the day they entered the County’s education system until the day they left.  Whilst the local authority knew its pupils and their needs very well, it probably needed to evidence its processes and the extent of its knowledge better.  Appendix 1 to the report contained an example of a tracking matrix used to monitor the progress of pupils identified as having special educational needs (SEN), or who qualified for free school meals (FSMs), had English as an additional language (EAL), or were regarded as transient pupils.  This matrix profiled each pupil who may require additional support.  The use of this matrix ensured that all factors were taken into account when determining the type of additional support they required.  When determining the type and level of any additional support required officers would also have regard to a pupil’s attendance record, behaviour and any school exclusions imposed. 


Whilst accountability measures were due to change again during the 2018/19 academic year which would further complicate the process of identifying support needs, every effort was being made to develop a system that would identify all pupils requiring support to enable appropriate intervention strategies to be put in place.


Responding to members’ questions the Lead Member, Head of Service and Senior School Improvement Officer – Secondary advised that:


·         The matrix document had been developed to be used by all school based education staff, both primary and secondary sector i.e. Headteacher, Head of Year, Head of Department, Education Service officers including the Head of Education and Children’s Services.  School based staff used it to determine and put in place appropriate intervention measures.  GwE also held similar information and the Education Service at their regular meetings with GwE would triangulate the evidence held and challenge any support they provided to ensure it was appropriate for each pupil based on their individual profiles.  The Head of Service illustrated an example of how support had been identified and put in place for an individual pupil using the profile built up on the matrix;

·         Officers acknowledged that the transition between primary and secondary education was more challenging for some pupils than others, resulting in some who performed well at primary level not performing as expected following transition.  However, due to the amount of data the Service had on each pupil they could identify pupils who struggled following transition early on to enable sufficient intervention and support to be put in place to ensure that they would achieve their full potential by the end of their period of statutory education;

·         information was held on which primary school a pupil had attended prior to entering the secondary sector, therefore officers could identify any developing patterns or trends of under achievement.  However, none of the county’s primary schools were subject to any Estyn measures, they were all performing well;

·         since the introduction of KS3 the curriculum had not been revised.  This had been recognised nationally as a problem and work was underway to revise its contents to better suit future needs;

·         If anomalies came to light between teacher assessments and national test results Education officers would examine such anomalies to ensure that the teacher assessment process was robust and challenging.  Any anomalies would also be discussed with GwE at the fortnightly meetings held between Education Service staff and GwE officers; 

·         one trend identified under the individual pupil profiling process used by the county was that pupils who performed well in maths and sciences generally tended not to perform as well in English or Welsh language, and vice-versa;

·         the fact that English or Welsh literature examination results no longer counted towards attaining the KS4 Level 2 inclusive threshold was proving to be a challenge;

·         pupils who transferred from English-medium primary education to Welsh-medium secondary education were introduced to the language and terminology via the immersion provision.  Their progress was tracked on a regular basis via the database;

·         Ysgol Brynhyfryd had developed a very sophisticated tracking database for its pupils, which seemed to be extremely effective.  Other schools within the county were now adopting elements of this system and adapting them to suit their data analysis needs; and

·         if officers suspected that a school was presenting inaccurate or invalidated data they would be robustly challenged by the Head of Education and Children’s Services


Responding to members’ concerns on whether the Council had set itself up to fail due to the extent of its ambition in respect of the pupil achievement element of the corporate priority relating to young people in its Corporate Plan, the Head of Service advised that the aim was to make sure that the county’s pupils achieved to the best of their ability within an imperfect system.


Members thanked the Lead Member and officers for the report and explanations, and:


Resolved:  subject to the above observations and reassurances given that the Committee was confident that all pupils were supported to achieve their full potential at Key Stage 4



Supporting documents:


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