Agenda item

Annual Local Authority Scrutiny Report Central South Consortium 2021-2022



Councillor Jon-Paul Blundell – Cabinet Member Education


Lindsay Harvey - Corporate Director – Education and Family Support

Nicola Echanis - Head of Education and Family Support

Susan Roberts – Group Manager (School Support)


Clara Seery - Managing Director - Central South Consortium

Louise Blatchford – Deputy Managing Director – Central South Consortium

Darren Jones – Principal Improvement Manager – Central South Consortium


Kathryn John - Headteacher, Brackla Primary School and Chair of Primary Federation

Ravi Pawar – Headteacher, Bryntirion Comprehensive School




The Corporate Director for Education and Family Support introduced the representatives from Central South Consortium (CSC) and the Managing Director of CSC introduced the report, the purpose of which was to provide an overview of the work of CSC and to update Members on the contribution of CSC, working in partnership with the local authority, to raise standards in schools across Bridgend.


The Chairperson thanked the Corporate Director of Education and Family Support and the Managing Director of CSC and Members discussed the following:


·       The formula for the annual contribution made to CSC, the use of funds and how the authority measured tangible outcomes in relation to the revenue investment.

·       The sufficiency of support from CSC given the decrease in funding and efficiency savings in schools budgets, the impact of reduced funding on CSC’s improvement partners within Bridgend and targeting priorities of individual local authorities to minimise the effect of any changes.  

·       Systems to track and analyse pupil performance to secure school improvement, whether schools were being sufficiently transparent through self-assessment and other consistent data from tests undertaken according to the assessment framework they were developing in line with the curriculum for Wales.

·       The sources of collaboration/cluster funding in Bridgend, including grant funding and professional learning grants that go into CSC, which is given to schools as a lump sum for meaningful use on any type of collaboration.

·       Themes from the mid-year and end of year evaluations submitted by the 9 clusters, embedding a system of self-improvement and the cluster agreeing what it would like to focus on, e.g. assessment and progression with a consistent approach in line with the curriculum for Wales.

·       Reasons why 16% of clusters had been deemed to be ineffective, concerns that not all schools were participating in CSC support and professional learning and the School Improvement Group’s role in determining strategic priorities in particular schools.

·       Improvement Partners working with schools to integrate recommendations from Estyn inspections into their school development plans and the possibility of Estyn increasing the regularity of their inspections.

·       Archbishop McGrath School no longer being under Estyn review having made appropriate progress against each recommendation made at the original inspection.

·       School representatives provided the following feedback of key aspects from their experience of the implementation and continued roll out of the new curriculum for Wales;

-        Learners and learner voice at the heart of what they do

-        Importance of embedding the four purposes at Key Stage 5, before they are mandatory

-        Autonomy of staff to determine best methods of implementation together with teaching and learning pedagogy

-        Ensuring literacy, numeracy and digital competency are integral to lessons

-        Sharing of practice with other schools.

-        Improvement in soft outcomes – thinking, problems solving, literacy and numeracy skills

-        Attendance rates higher than previous year

and some challenges, including:

-        The Model clashing against structures elsewhere in school

-        School buildings not fit for purpose in terms of innovative approach


·       The outcome of Corneli Primary School’s case study on financial awareness. 

·       Key focus / priority areas for schools:

- Literacy 

- Implementation and refining of the Curriculum for Wales

- Assessment framework that was agreed by governing bodies as part of the adoption of the Curriculum for Wales

- Developing effective self-evaluation processes to ensure they have an impact on teaching and learning

- Networks that received an additional £30,000 funding to plan and facilitate professional learning to meet the schools needs

- Welsh-medium and Special schools 


·       Minimum levels of support and measures to ensure that support is fulfilled and effective participation by schools and improvement partners in alignment with the School Improvement Network. 

·       Information regarding the support provided to the two schools who were not provided with bespoke support and the subject-specific support provided by CSC.

·       The establishment and key roles of the Vulnerable Group Support Team including undertaking safeguarding audits using the Estyn-approved Safeguarding Audit Tool. 

·       CSC working on leadership and safeguarding by:

- Increasing the level of safeguarding training for staff;

- Developing internal governance structures;

- Streamlining the way they did business plans to free up capacity;

- Continuing the good partnership working between the Education and Family Support and the Social Services and Wellbeing Directorates, to ensure that pressures and successes were shared and lessons learnt;

- Providing a clear vision and raising attainment of disadvantaged younger people and maximising support for free school meals through a pilot scheme in which Coleg Cymunedol Y Dderwen took part;

- Development of one-page profiles, toolkits for teaching and learning and whole schools’ policies; and

- Tracking literacy, numeracy and participation.


·       Pupil Development Grant funding and the impact on funding if eligible pupils did not claim free school meals to which they are entitled. 

·       An update regarding the 11 priorities and progress made by schools which were not on track during the reporting period of 2021-22 and the end of the academic year.

·       The many strengths for which the Directorate and schools should be congratulated and areas requiring further development.

·       The feedback from other local authorities and whether consideration had been given to re-establishing a Joint Scrutiny Committee to potentially add value to CSC’s draft 2023-24 business plan.

The Chairperson advised that there were no further questions for the invitees, thanked invitees for their attendance and, advised if they were not required for the next item, they may leave the meeting.

RESOLVED:            Following detailed consideration and discussions with Officers and Cabinet Members, the Committee made the following Recommendations:


1.     The Committee highlighted that whilst it was useful to review the annual report 2021-2022, the context would have changed somewhat in the last year. With the value of the Committee’s consideration residing in the scrutiny of the here and now and current situation, it was recommended that the Committee be given the opportunity to provide pre-decision scrutiny on Central South Consortium’s draft Business Plan 2023-2024.


2.     Members acknowledged that the Central South Consortium deliver aspects of school improvement services: challenge and support on behalf of the five local authorities, which is governed through a Joint Committee of Cabinet Members from each Authority. Historically, however there had been an informal Joint Scrutiny Working Group between these five Authorities that was unfortunately no longer in existence.  The Committee therefore recommended that the Scrutiny section explore the possibility of re-establishing some form of joint Scrutiny to consider holistic high level strategic issues relating to Central South Consortium and identify individual local authority priorities.


and the Committee requested:


3.     The Committee requested a detailed breakdown on the core funding contributions allocated to the different functions listed on page 41 of the report and what Bridgend County Borough Council’s contribution was on each.


4.     Professional learning collaborations included nine clusters in Bridgend which all submitted a mid-year and end of year evaluation. Members requested detail on what themes had arisen from those clusters mid and end of year evaluation reports.


5.     In Bridgend, in Autumn 2022, four schools were inspected by Estyn and Corneli Primary School was asked to produce an ‘Interesting or Innovative Practice Case Study’ on the work in the school in the development of pupils’ understanding of financial awareness. Members requested that this case study be circulated amongst the Committee.


6.     During 2021-22, Central South Consortium provided bespoke support following 155 requests from schools in the region. These included 20 for Bridgend schools; 18 provided by the Central south Consortium Curriculum and Professional Learning team were related to curriculum. The Committee requested detail on what bespoke was provided to the other two schools in Bridgend not relating to the curriculum.


7.     Safeguarding had been identified as part of the previous strategic priorities within the Directorate and as a result, there was an Education Engagement Team whose key role was to undertake a range of safeguarding audits with schools using the approved school safeguarding audit tool. The Director of Education and Family Support offered a written summary of the safeguarding audits conducted by the Education Engagement Team to be circulated to members.


8.     The Committee were mindful that the report under consideration was the annual report from 2021-22 and therefore requested a written response on areas which had made particular progress, along with areas that may require attention within the schools in the county area, since the reporting period. They were also interested to understand how the Authority compared with other Local Authorities within the region and what could be learnt from best practice. 


9.     The Committee agreed to develop with Central South Consortium the opportunity to monitor and receive updates on various areas within their remit, initially identifying those below, to be able to fully scrutinise the needs and effectiveness of the service and support for schools:


-        Equity, vulnerable learners and grants

-        Safeguarding

Governor support

Supporting documents: