West Dunbartonshire Council has been given significant funding since 2015-16 to support the Scottish Government’s excellence and equity agenda. The aim is to close the attainment gap which currently exists between those living in Scotland’s least and most deprived areas. West Dunbartonshire received funding as part of the Scottish Attainment Challenge from 2015-16 and then funding from 2017-18 when the Scottish Government introduced the Pupil Equity Fund.
The framework for inspection includes quality indicators which enable HMI to evaluate aspects of leadership and management, self-evaluation and improvements in performance. HMI used our evidence to answer two questions:
- How effective is the education service’s use of data to target, select and evaluate the impact of initiatives?
- How effective is the education service’s leadership, governance and management of resources to improve learning, raise attainment and narrow the poverty-related attainment gap?
As a result, they are able to make an overall judgement about the extent to which West Dunbartonshire Council is improving learning, raising attainment and closing the poverty-related attainment gap.
Inspection in West Dunbartonshire
West Dunbartonshire Council was the pilot for a new model of inspection of local authorities in December 2017. HM Inspectors and professional associates, working in partnership with Audit Scotland evaluated the education service strategies to improve learning, raise attainment and narrow the poverty-related attainment gap.
As part of the inspection, Education Scotland used the same framework to evaluate the contribution of the educational psychology service within the Authority.
West Dunbartonshire Council is making very good progress with improving learning, raising attainment and narrowing the poverty-related attainment gap. HM Inspectors are confident that the evidence and evaluation to date indicates the following strengths and aspects for development.
Raising attainment is a fundamental part of our work and as such the level of scrutiny in the inspection was robust and far-reaching, involving in excess of 200 members of staff and partners with evidence gathered through 29 separate groups.
In addition to this questionnaires were shared with:
- West Dunbartonshire Educational Psychology team
- 22 Elected Members
- 22 Education Central Staff
- 35 Head Teachers
- 26 Parent Councils
- 3 Parent Representatives of the Educational Services Committee
Areas of Strength
The following are areas of strength highlighted in the report:
- Highly-effective leadership of the education service has resulted in a clear shared understanding of the local authority context and vision for improving the life chances for all children and young people.
- Staff and partners working effectively together provide a wide range of support for children, young people and families which is leading to improvements in literacy, numeracy and health and wellbeing.
- Many children, young people and families demonstrate a strong desire to positively engage in new projects and different ways of learning. As a result, they are increasing their achievements and developing skills for learning, life and work.
- A well thought-out strategic approach to career long professional learning is supporting practitioners to improve their practice through collaboration, engagement in research, critical reflection and skills development.
- Self-evaluation, underpinned by a robust governance framework, is an integral approach to continuous improvement.
Areas for development
The inspectors have also expressed confidence in West Dunbartonshire to continue to make appropriate progress with this work and to achieve this have identified the following aspects for development:
- Continue to ensure self-evaluation provides clarity about which interventions add the most value to children’s and young people’s attainment and achievements and take steps to formalise exit or continuation strategies as appropriate.
- Further strengthen the information provided to the Educational Services Committee to enhance scrutiny by elected members through, for example, an increased focus on actual progress against planned activity.
- Building on the current good practice, improve planning with parents, carers and children and young people to ensure they are fully involved in discussions and decisions which affect their learning.
- Monitor the workload and impact on headteachers and central staff, including in human resources, procurement and finance, of their work related to the Scottish Attainment Challenge and Pupil Equity Fund to ensure there is capacity to continue providing the required levels of administrative and other support.
What it means for WDC:
This report represents a significant achievement for education within West Dunbartonshire. The scrutiny was broad-ranging and robust, examining both the success of the raising attainment strategy and the financial governance structures and management through which the service is delivered. The report also noted the ‘very strong contribution’ of the educational psychology service to closing the attainment gap.
The results of the inspection demonstrate that the Authority’s self-evaluation processes are robust and leading to improvements. Based on these findings, Education Scotland will make no further evaluative visits in connection with the inspection.
Please link to a full copy of the HMI Inspection Report on West Dunbartonshire Council.