Submitted - report from the Cabinet Member for Education and Head of Education presenting information at an early stage to elected members on performance at end of key stages for the 2016/2017 school year. The series of questions/observations from individual members in relation to the following were responded to:
§ Concern that assessing the Foundation Phase through the medium of Welsh was putting the Council at a disadvantage.
§ The Free School Meals measurer was misleading and suggested that Gwynedd was one of the richest counties nationally, whilst there were areas within the county that had gained access to European structural funds because of their poverty.
§ Suggestion to differentiate between the performance of children from Welsh speaking homes and children from non-Welsh speaking homes in order to be able to compare with other counties.
§ Disappointment was expressed that literature was not a subject included as one of the main KS4 measures.
§ Bridge the 'arm's length' policy which existed between Headteachers and Foundation Phase practitioners to dispose of both learning cultures in schools.
§ GwE intervention in KS3.
§ The impact that sitting exams earlier was having on KS4 results.
During the discussion about the contributing factors towards the results of the Foundation Phase, the GwE Primary Phase Representative noted the following points:
§ There were problems in regards to teacher assessments and GwE had worked with Headteachers to set out pupil standards, standards of provision and expectations from the perspective of the Headteachers and the senior education management team.
§ It was very difficult to gain consistency regarding the definition of 'best fit' whilst assessing any child. It was noted that six Regional Education Directors had worked with GwE to publish a regional statement, which set out that any teacher assessment was based on the teacher's professional opinion, and there were clear guidelines explaining how to reach that judgement.
§ There was an additional challenge in the Foundation Phase this year. Children at the end of the phase would be assessed against a set of new revised outcomes, which would include more challenging elements than the previous year. As a result of this change, GwE was running a new training programme for teachers in order for schools to meet the additional requirements and expectations.
During the discussion about Key Stage 4 results, the following was noted:
§ There had been a fall in KS4 results in Gwynedd, and across Wales. It was emphasised that the specifications had changed drastically this year, especially in the main measures, which is Mathematics, Science, and Welsh (Language) or English (Language). The main changes had been that Mathematics had been split in two, namely numeracy and mathematics, and Welsh and English literature did not count towards the TL2+. Due to these changes, it was not possible to compare between this year's KS4 results and results of previous years. Therefore, Gwynedd's situation in the region and nationally should be reviewed, and Gwynedd was currently in first place regionally and fifth nationally.
§ To accept, note and thank the officer for the report.
§ The Committee to review the work which is in the pipeline in the Foundation Phase to ensure that they get to the root of the problem.
§ The Committee to receive the schools' and collages' figures in full once they have been validated.