To consider a report on the above.
Officers from GwE were welcomed to the meeting and the GwE Annual Report for 2021-22 was presented.
Members were given an opportunity to ask questions and offer observations.
Individual members submitted the following observations: -
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>It was noted that it was impossible to scrutinise a report of this size, and that this was not how the committee should be scrutinising the work of GwE.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Concern was expressed about children's attitudes towards teachers, and it was noted that prospective teachers should be trained on how to deal with challenging behaviour, otherwise young people would be reluctant to join the profession.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>It was now very difficult for governors to know what was the baseline for measuring standards in light of Covid, and they believed that there was a role for GwE to play in supporting and assisting them to resume their roles.
In response to the observations and questions from members, the following was noted: -
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Whilst accepting that the report was lengthy, that more specific reports were presented to the committee during the year at the members' request, but the Annual Report combined everything together in one place. Should the members wish to focus on certain themes, or discuss more specific elements in workshops, GwE would be more than willing to facilitate that.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>In terms of addressing the risk in respect of recruitment difficulties and succession planning for securing senior leaders across the region, especially Welsh-medium ones, it was noted that there was much talk about the effect of Covid on pupils, but perhaps the effect on adults had not been fully realised. Senior leaders across the region were very tired, and a quarter of the secondary headteachers had retired during the last academic year. Also, as a headteacher left, a deputy or another person would step into the role, which would then leave that role vacant for some time. It was also noted that during lockdown, headteachers had had to put aside some more 'leadership' elements of the work and focus on managing, safeguarding and ensuring that everyone was safe, but they were now required to step back into the leadership role, or step into that role for the first time in the cases of newer headteachers. Also, in terms of recruitment, the Welsh-speaking pool was smaller, the world of education was facing the biggest changes in 40 years, and it was a very trying time financially. In light of all of this, the officer questioned whether these leadership posts were now as attractive to so many people. In terms of the bilingual ability or Welsh-speaking ability of staff across the region, it was believed that there was balance, but by ensuring that the provision was completely bilingual, perhaps the Service was drawing extensively on the North West pool. Short-term secondments were one way around this, or buying people's time to fill gaps if specific medium requirements arose.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The risk in terms of the consistency and range of the Reform Journey referred to regularity at many levels. The Department had been working with Professor Donaldson regularly to understand the requirements and convey the messages across the region. It was believed, however, that the Government tended to work on two tiers, namely policy, and the field that implements the policy, and at times more than one person contributed to this interpretation. As such, there was a question of whether the messages were always consistent and were applied enough, and in respect of the Welsh language, were they applied enough for practitioners in our schools? They must praise how well the primary sector and around six secondary schools had embraced the new curriculum, and were offering local, well-planned experiences to their pupils, and the Service was working with the schools to share the practices amongst each other so that they could see the range of experiences they were able to offer, and the Service was also supporting them with the systems that captured impact, and captured learners' progress.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>The Service was working closely with Bangor University on teachers' initial training. There had been a shortage of teachers in some specific subjects such as mathematics and physics for years, and more discussion was needed around this and to possibly identify the cohorts of prospective teachers that were needed, rather than turning out too many who have specialised in one subject. It was further noted that dealing with challenging behaviour formed part of teachers' training, but they could convey the message to the University regarding the importance of being able to ensure firm discipline in the classroom.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>Changing the role of the Challenge Advisor to Improvement Support Advisor had strengthened the relationship between the schools and the service, and the service was now meeting the needs of individual schools much better than in the past.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>With regard to the Accelerated Learning schemes and as a result of work with the University to identify the elements that had the greatest impact, the Service had been supporting schools to re-establish what the pupils' baseline was. It was noted that the Service would be happy to bring a report or give a presentation to the committee in response to a specific question. It was further noted that basic skills had been affected during the past 18 months, and that this had affected the Welsh language where Welsh was not the language at home, and also in some more deprived pockets. It was also noted that there were some cohorts coming together in the schools, more in some classes than others, but again, practitioners must be very specific in terms of the type of support required by pupils and the teachers in putting the next steps in the children's learning in place.
<![if !supportLists]>· <![endif]>If there was anything in particular that governors needed in order to resume their role following the pandemic, the Service would ensure that a workshop or guidance was provided to them.
RESOLVED to accept the reports and ask the Education Department and GwE to take note of any observations raised during this meeting.