Scrutiny looks at how schools deal with staff competency issues

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The Schools Performance Panel at their meeting on the 3 July looked at how the authority tackles the issue of poor performing teachers and the recruitment of senior staff in schools.  The Chief Education Officer and Head of Human Resources attended the meeting to discuss a number of specific issues, particularly around the amount and accuracy of record keeping in schools in relation to staffing matters.

From the discussion the Panel highlighted the following in a letter to the Cabinet Member for Learning and Skills:

  • The Panel were interested to hear that there is a regional human resources group covering six local authority areas that is currently looking at competency policies in schools within that region.  The panel were keen to emphasise that the policy, to be effective, must outline what the key expectations are of a staff member, and also the importance of the quality of record keeping in schools.
  • Early engagement with the individual and the associated trade union is important when issues of competency are raised with a staff member.  The panel believe it is important to put these concerns on the table early so they can be addressed quickly and not impact adversely on the education provided to those children and young people who might be affected.
  • Schools must keep good quality records of human resources matters because if documentation is not in place the competency process is difficult to take forward.  The panel believe that historically this has not been the case in some schools.  There is a need monitor and quality assure this.
  • The panel heard about the idea of a leadership academy for Headteachers, senior school staff and aspiring leaders and thought this was excellent concept.
  • The panel believe the idea raised of a leadership academy would help ensure better consistency in the practice across schools and would also be important in future workforce planning – ensuring we have the next generation of senior management in schools.  It was thought that this could potentially be investigated with University of Wales Trinity St David’s where there is currently experience of training teaching staff.

The panel were pleased to hear from the Chief Education Officer that a new school improvement team will be in place in September and that they will receive a full programme of training and development including national welsh training for challenge leaders.  The priorities for the School Improvement Service were discussed and the panel agreed that ensuring consistency in practice must be high on that priority list.  The panel plan to have a session with the Head of the School Improvement Service and the Chief Education Officer in September around this issue.

Two other related issues that were raised by the panel include:

  1. the importance of schools autumn visit and how that would benefit from more involvement of governors.  For example the chairs of the schools’ statutory committees should be invited.  This would then ensure that the information from that visit is disseminated effectively across each school’s governing body.
  2. More training/information on the Law as it stands in relation to school Governance should be made available to governors.  It was felt to be vital that all governors understand their role and responsibilities fully. The Scrutiny Programme Committee has agreed that one of the topics for in-depth scrutiny this year will be school governance and that this issue can form part of that inquiry.

If you would like further information on the School Performance Panel or Scrutiny more generally you can visit our website www.swansea.gov.uk/scrutiny or contact us by email on scrutiny@swansea.gov.uk

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