Excellent practice highlighted at Swansea secondary school

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Councillors from the Schools Performance Scrutiny Panel met with the Headteacher and a Governor from Cefn Hengoed Community school to discuss their recent Estyn Inspection outcome and the school’s improvement journey.  On the 9 June the panel spoke to the Challenge Advisor, then the Headteacher and a Governor from the school.

The Panel chose to speak to the school because it has been highlighted as showing excellent practice by Estyn and they wished to learn, celebrate and help share that good practice.

The school was inspected in October 2015 and was judged to be excellent for its current performance and excellent for its prospects for improvement.

The Headteacher outlined the context in which the school works explaining that the school had 38.4% free school meal pupils in 2015/16, 37% special educational needs pupils and that 73% of pupils live in the 30% most deprived parts of Wales (as per the Wales Index of Multiple Deprivation 2015).

It is a sector leading school in Wales and had 15 straight excellent judgements covering all aspects of its Estyn inspection.  This makes it one of only 5 secondary schools in the last 5 years to have achieved this in Wales.

Councillors found that some of the reasons for this exceptional judgement include:

  • Leadership: the high quality and consistency of leadership at all levels is a particular strength. Roles and responsibilities are distributed well and lines of accountability are clear. All leaders set the highest expectations and level of challenge to staff and individual departments, as well as pupils. Estyn
  • Excellent quality assurance and use of data, tight monitoring with several layers of quality assurance
  • Sharp focus on pupil performance and raising standards
  • Commitment to Continuous Professional Development of staff has helped to result in high teaching quality across the school which has been judged as a particular strength by Estyn
  • Continually self-evaluating school that addresses challenges head on
  • Supportive and challenging governing body
  • Supportive local community that also benefit from this successful school
  • Excellent pastoral care
  • The schools works well with others in sharing practice, not only with its cluster primaries bus also with parents and the local community

The Panel was particularly impressed by

  • The work of Cefn Hengoed with its cluster Primary’s Schools
  • Literacy, numeracy and basic skills all being developed fully across the curriculum
  • How the school has narrowed the gap both between boys’ and girls’ performance and significantly improving outcomes for boys and pupils in receipt of free school meals
  • The overall improved performance of successive year 9 and 11 cohorts in terms of national indicators
  • Ongoing improvement in pupil attendance with this year being on target so far 94.1% attendance.

The school identified some of the challenges it will face over coming years, including

  • The continued focus on and reduction to budgets for schools and the public sector
  • Donaldson report and associated developments – positive but resource and time intensive.
  • Welsh Baccalaureate – also resource intensive.

If you would like any further information about this piece of work or scrutiny more generally you can visit our website at www.scrutiny.gov.uk or email us at scrutiny@swansea.gov.uk

Picture credit: Cefn Hengoed Community School

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