Vale Council education services are 'adequate', rules schools watchdog in critical report
12:01pm Tuesday 17th September 2013 in Penarth news
EDUCATION services provided by the Vale of Glamorgan Council have been judged as ‘adequate’ by schools inspectorate Estyn.
The watchdogs’ latest report said the local authority had failed to address recommendations and shortcomings from its previous report three years ago, and benchmarked performance in all key stages was weaker in 2012 than it had been previously.
The Vale Council education services department will now be closely monitored by Estyn, and has to produce an action plan to show how it will meet recommendations.
The report said arrangements for monitoring and evaluation wellbeing are “not fully developed”, and criticised the level of challenge given to schools, calling it “inconsistent”.
It said underperforming schools were not identified quickly enough.
It also said performance at key stages 2 and 3, when taking free school meals – a measure of poverty – into account, was below the Wales average.
One primary school has remained in special measures for two years.
But some areas were identified as good, such as support for pupils with additional learning needs.
The report said the Vale had ‘strengthened the range of specialist provision’ for pupils, while the number of exclusions was among the lowest in Wales.
The percentage of pupils leaving full-time education without a recognised qualification last year also improved significantly - it is now better than the average for Wales.
But the prospects for improvement in key areas were only graded “adequate”.
Lead inspector Farrukh Khan said: “Elected members and senior officers know the important challenges facing education in the authority well, and are committed to improving the pace of change.However, performance measures are not robust enough to improve the monitoring of progress and achievement, or identify the impact on learners well enough.”
Jennifer Hill, the Vale’s chief learning and skills officer, said: “The latest Estyn report has helped bring into focus the areas in which we’re performing well, and those which need more attention. Our ambition is not only to be the best performing education authority in Wales, but to match ourselves against the most successful in England.
“Already since the inspection we have seen some improvements in school performance, particularly at Key Stage 3. An action plan to address the key recommendations of the report is being drawn up and we will be working hard to ensure these recommendations are acted upon and that improvements are made as a result.
The Vale council’s cabinet member for children’s services, Cllr Chris Elmore said: “The inspectors underlined many aspects of our service area which we’re proud of, including our successful partnership working, fewer pupils are leaving full-time education without a recognised qualification, and performance in Welsh second language was found to be above average in both primary and secondary schools. However there is still work to be done in driving up standards in our schools and also taking steps to challenge and support schools which are underperforming.”