Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 3A, Guildhall, Swansea. View directions

Contact: Michelle roberts, Scrutiny Officer 

No. Item


Disclosure of Personal and Prejudicial Interests.


Cllrs Sue Jones and Mike Day


Notes and Conveners Letters pdf icon PDF 131 KB

Notes arising from Panel meeting on 17 May 2018.


The notes of the Panel meeting on the 17 May 18 were accepted.


Data for the Performance of Science in Schools pdf icon PDF 100 KB

Additional documents:


Helen Morgan Rees, Swansea’s Head of Achievement and Partnership Service along with Alan Edwards, Stuart Jacob and David Bradley who are Leaders of Learning at ERW attended the Panel, providing information on how Swansea schools perform in Science and how this compares with other local authorities and other regions in Wales.  Some of the issues highlighted and discussed include:


Data on Science Performance Swansea Schools 2015-2017

Key stage 4 level 2 Science by local authority in ERW region

Swansea performance by gender and free school meals at C grade and above

Key stage 3 level 5 Science

Swansea performance by gender and free school meals at expected level

Swansea performance by gender and free school meals at expected level +1

Key stage 3 level 6 Science

Key stage 2 level 4 Science

Key stage 2 level 5 Science


·         Current performance across Swansea schools means that three quarters of learners gained a grade C or above at GCSE Level 2 Science.  This performance places Swansea on a par with the national average and eleventh out of the 22 local authorities in Wales

·         Although rank position is an improvement on the previous year, overall performance has decline during the last two years. However the decline in performance is in line with the national decline in performance

·         At a regional level, Powys, Ceredigion and Carmarthenshire performance is higher than Swansea’s.  Previously Swansea has compared more favourably within the region

·         Free school meal pupil performance for this indicator sees a widening gap in 2016/2017 with a difference of 23.6% points in comparison to no-fsm

·         The gender difference in performance has remained stable during the last three years and is not significant

·         Contextualised performance (considering similar schools with each other across Wales) show that half of Swansea schools appear in the top 50% of similar schools

·         Value added information indicates varied performance across Swansea schools.  In addition, there is stronger capacity and preparedness in a few schools to face the new science qualification, examined for the first time in Wales in 2018

·         Schools receive an overview of their performance data and look at their science results to identify their strengths and areas of challenge are.  Support provided by ERW leaders for learning.

·         What would be the template of an effective science department in a school? ERW Leader of learning responded and said:

   Schools self-review good

   Long term plan for topics and consistency

   Assessment (classes doing same assessment)

   Good teaching and learning

   Data used and compared in school

   High quality resources

   Subject specialist in front of class, if not then specifically trained teacher

·         Science at KS2 does not seem to have as higher profile as it used to have because of the focus on literacy and numeracy.  Must recognise that science can also be used to develop numeracy and literacy

·         ERW have a science programme in place to upskill teacher to teach science subjects and are currently working in a number of Swansea schools both comprehensive and primary

·         Important to keep an eye on the KS4 results because of the new qualification and its impact

·         Figures will be more reliable in Science subject in future years because the BTEC figures will no longer form part of those results.



Q&A session - Performance of Science in Schools across Swansea pdf icon PDF 113 KB

Q&A roundtable session with:

Headteachers Bishopston and Pontarddulais Comprehensive Schools

Leaders of Learner (Science) ERW

Head of Achievement & Partnership Service (Swansea)





Invited to attend Janet Waldron the Headteacher from Pontarddulais Comprehensive School, Jeff Bird the Headteacher from Bishopston Comprehensive School, Helen Morgan Rees Swansea’s Head of Achievement and Partnership Service and Along Edwards, Stuart Jacob and David Bradley Leaders of Learning at ERW.  They took part in a roundtable discussion with Councillors focussing on Science in Schools in Swansea.  Those attending we given a number of background questions to prepare them for this session, including:

·         How are we encouraging and inspiring pupils to take up science

·         How accessible is science to all pupils

·         How we link with and use private, public and university sector

·         How good practice is shared and celebrated

·         Recruitment and retention of science teachers

·         How are young people advised of next steps in science after school

·         Is the curriculum sufficiently geared to towards science


The following issues were then raised and discussed:


·         Not a gender gap in science within schools in Swansea.  Neither Pontarddulais nor Bishopston Comprehensive Schools experience any issues in this aspect. Both schools get a good balance of pupils taking science including double and triple science. The data across wider schools also reflect this. 

·         The figures begin to change as pupils move on to 6th form or college when less females choose these options.  Both schools said while at school girls enjoy and do well in science.

·         Panel were interested in why it is the case that few girls take up science subjects when continuing education 16+.  The Panel considered speaking to those teaching KS5 subjects to establish this.  The meeting reflected on whether this may be a societal issue and that more publicity around female role models in science is needed.

·         Need to consider how we get pupils to take science subjects up beyond school.

·         Panel thought that it may be useful to do a sampling of exit interviews with pupils leaving school moving on to further education to establish why choices are made, and maybe we can learn from this.

·         JW said that at Pontarddulais Comprehensive there is a real focus on the development of science.  They have been working with their cluster primary schools, starting with Foundation Phase.  They have had monies from the regions to develop science with these cluster schools.  Important to invest in primary years so when they come through to Secondary they are much better prepared.  This improved emphasis on science should in the longer term improve the take up of in science later.

·         The issue lies more with the gap between free school and non-free school meal pupils with a widening gap in performance.

·         JB said that at Bishopston Comprehensive School they do as much practical and contextual activity as possible, taking pupils from design through to completion of a project

·         Skills and knowledge of the teacher important, ideally a subject specialist but if not teacher trained/developed to specifically teach science.  Please to hear that ERW offer this.

·         It was felt that the use of new technologies and digital activities were useful but it does not replace the need for excellent teaching.  High quality teaching and learning is absolutely the way forward in science.  It is also important that there is support to achieve this.  There are a number of tiers of support including school to school.

·         The importance and focus the school puts on science by the school is also one key element in how pupils engage and ultimately become inspired. 

·         Good practice is shared through science teacher group, through challenge advisors and through school to school support (not only across Swansea but wider across the region).

·         JB from Bishopston Comprehensive gave a good example to where they work with primary schools at pupil’s transition.  They have project on flight that starts in the pupil’s final year of primary and continues into secondary.  They get the children to do as much practical work as possible.  Also free up laboratory time that can be used by cluster primaries.

·         Picture locally in science in Swansea is good in secondary particularly, it is not as bigger an issue here as it may be for other local authorities in Wales.

·         University of Wales Trinity St David is offering a conversion course for teachers who wish to specialise in Science subjects.

·         Recruitment of science teachers not a particular issue for Swansea.

·         HWB is hugely beneficial for sharing of knowledge etc.

·         University has a clear role in science particularly in linking in with schools.

·         The Panel felt that the use of role models from tech and science related industries in schools to inspire pupils could be beneficial.  Schools develop more links with industry.

·         The meeting discussed preparing pupils for the world of work in particular what employment opportunities may be available in the future for pupils in future.  City Deal was mentions and the links with what we are currently teaching.  The Panel agreed that schools particularly Secondary need to have more detail so that they can look at the skills being developed in relation to the city deal.  They asked if a pack could be provided to schools that gives more details like for example: what will it mean in terms of jobs, what will be the actual opportunities be, what skills will be required, types of salaries etc.  They felt that it is all rather abstract a moment.

·         The Panel were disappointed to hear that work experience taking pupils to work for a short time outside school in local business has stopped in many schools.  Councillors heard that it is very difficult now in terms of health and safety.

·         Careers fayres and other events that might inspire young people into science and technology development and help identify opportunities in science.  Idea of an event being held to help inspire and show opportunities for young people was raised.  The idea of a short 10 minutes film that can be shown to young people in Schools to help inspire them to choose technology/science as a career path.

·         The importance of encouraging and supporting pupils resilience skills is having a clear impact and should continue to be encouraged.









Work Programme 2018/2019. pdf icon PDF 76 KB


A date for the pre-decision Scrutiny of changes to the Ethnic Minority and Achievement Service has been added to the Work Programme.  This will take place on Wednesday 18 July and view will be reported to Cabinet on 19 July.  The visit to a Foundation Phase facility will be rescheduled.


For Information Item pdf icon PDF 59 KB

Recent Estyn Inspections published for individual schools


The recent Estyn Inspection published for Craigfelen Primary School was noted.

Letter to Cabinet Member pdf icon PDF 268 KB

Letter from Cabinet Member pdf icon PDF 94 KB