Venue: Council Chamber, County Hall - County Hall. View directions
Contact: Elizabeth Patterson
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from County Councillors K Laurie-Parry and G Thomas and A Bulman (Director of Social Services).
A Clark (Head of Education), E Towns (Senior Challenge Advisor), L Lovell (Senior Challenge Advisor), M Wheeler (ALN Manager) and E Patterson (Scrutiny Officer)
Declarations of interest
To receive declarations of interest from Members.
No declarations of interest were received.
Declarations of Party Whip
To receive disclosures of prohibited party whips which a Member has been given in relation to the meeting in accordance with Section 78(3) of the Local Government Measure 2011.
(NB: Members are reminded that under Section 78 Members having been given a prohibited party whip cannot vote on a matter before the Committee.)
No declarations of party whip were received.
To authorise the Chair to sign the minutes of the following meeting(s) as a correct record:
· 1th February 2019
The minutes of the meeting held on the 11th February 2019 were agreed subject to the following amendments:
· Present: …. G Robson
· P7 ….then this impacts not only on the financial position of the school but also on the teaching workload as at secondary level a TLR removes the teaching commitment by one third.
· P10 add the following to the paragraph on feminine hygiene: ‘….Feminine hygiene and toilets grant and does Powys have a policy on the provision of feminine hygiene facilities in schools?’ with the response amended to ‘There is no policy for the provision of feminine hygiene facilities in Powys Schools however, under the scoring system….’
· P11 add the following to the second outcome: ‘which would be expected by May 2019….’
The Chair sought clarity regarding the spend of the feminine hygiene grant at Llangattock. The Portfolio Holder advised that it was her understanding that this money had to be spent on capital projects. Llangattock Primary School was at the top of the list when it came to needing toilet improvements and she understood that this had been spent on the junior girls’ toilets.
The Chair asked for the minutes to be circulated amongst Committee Members after which he would sign the agreed copy for the minute book.
To receive the verified information on Secondary School Standards, attendance and exclusions.
· Briefing on Secondary School Standards, Admissions and Exclusions (verified)
There remains a big difference in the performance of girls and boys. What is being done to address this?
This gap has been investigated and it appears that whilst the gap has increased it appears to be specifically cohort related. In particular it shows in relation to results in language and at Capped 9 score. There was a particular issue this year with the English GCSE where a change in grade boundaries meant it was necessary to get an extra 20 points for a Grade C. This change impacted on those schools who had focussed efforts on pupils at the C/D boundary. This impact was felt in two schools in particular.
The Portfolio Holder advised that this had been a controversial change and that some local authorities were challenging this. Impact can also be seen as a result of the books that teachers choose for pupils to study. Some books are less or more popular and this can impact on the results obtained. Schools also are aware that different learning styles can work with different cohorts.
Does the schools service have the data which shows which schools are implementing actions that are successful?
This data is available and the schools have attended a meeting with the school’s service to receive a presentation on this data. The schools service know which schools need to do more to prepare for these new examinations. This year there were some unexpected instances where schools with specialist teachers have been hit the hardest with the changes in examinations.
The Portfolio Holder noted that in moving to use the Capped 9 score to compare schools it may be that schools offer one or two practical subjects that appeal to all learners as if there are learners who are struggling to maintain interest the inclusion of a popular subject may stimulate their interest and help raise their attainment across the board.
Is the decline in A level pupils proportionate to the overall decline in pupil numbers in Powys?
The Portfolio Holder was of the view that A level pupils were leaving Powys to access courses at sixth form colleges for a number of reasons such as:
· A subject they wish to follow is not offered in Powys
· They are fed up with being in school
· They are attracted by the bright lights where sixth form colleges are sited
A questionnaire for 16-19 years olds is out for consultation to try to ascertain why students have made their choices for sixth form study. This information will be used to inform the Post 16 review.
It is requested that this survey be extended to allow ex Powys pupils who are attending university to complete the questionnaire.
Looking at the data for sixth form students are schools admitting pupils that previously would not have gained a place due to falling numbers?
Officers have asked this question. It is clear that the numbers of students taking 2+ A levels ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
To receive a verbal update from the Chair of the Learning and Skills Scrutiny Committee.
The Chair asked Cllr David Jones to brief on the recent ERW Joint Committee meeting.
This meeting had been held on the 25th March 2019 hosted by Swansea City Council. Press reports had been published identifying the concerns raised by Neath Port Talbot Council and a report which was due to be taken at their Cabinet giving notice to withdraw from the Joint consortium from April 2020. A report was received from the Managing Director which explained that Neath Port Talbot were yet to pay their contribution for the period 2018-19 and it appeared that they intended to give notice that they would no longer be part of the consortium from April 2020. It was understood that the Leader and other ERW Leaders had met with the Minister regarding ERW on the 25th March 2019 but the outcome of that meeting was unknown.
The Portfolio Holder observed that there were concerns amongst members of the consortium that ERW provided value for money.
It was confirmed that despite the uncertainties Powys staff remained committed to regional working.
Cllr Jones further advised that the Joint Scrutiny Chairs meeting had discussed the potential to undertake pre-Joint Committee scrutiny to provide an enhanced level of scrutiny at this regional level.
To consider the scrutiny work programme:
It was confirmed that pre-Cabinet scrutiny of the Post 16 Review would take place and the Portfolio Holder advised that this is expected to be available after Easter.
The Scrutiny Officer advised that the Co-ordinating Committee had asked for bids for working groups on Early Years and WESP/Immersion to be submitted. The bid form would be circulated for Members to complete and return.
Other items to be considered for inclusion on the work programme include:
· School Transformation Policy
· Funding Formula Review
· School Transport