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Headteachers in Wales have been told they're not doing enough to deal with the impact poverty has in the classroom. It remains one of the main factors in poor education performance.
Now, the schools inspectorate says more needs to be done to help children from poorer backgrounds. Tom Sheldrick reports now on the struggle to close that gap.
Jassa Scott, from school inspectorate Estyn, told ITV News that although there are examples of good practice in schools across Wales, many are still not making tackling poverty a priority.
Estyn recommends that schools and local councils develop a common approach and work with other agencies to engage disadvantaged families more in school life.Among the report's other recommendations for schools are:
- adopting clear systems for working with outside agencies to support disadvantaged learners
- identifying a senior member of staff to co-ordinate work with external services and agencies
- making sure staff know how to raise the achievement of disadvantaged learners.
Schools in Wales need to do more to tackle poverty, according to a report from school inspectors Estyn.
The report says that although many schools are aware of the importance of improving stands and wellbeing of disadvantaged pupils, addressing poverty is still not a high enough priority for schools across Wales.
On the day the Assembly votes on the Welsh Government's spending plans, Finance Minister , Jane Hutt has announced proposals to speed up the school rebuilding programme.
She says the 200 million pounds spend for the scheme will mainly come from Local Council's borrowing powers.
The First Minister is standing by his government's intention that Welsh schoolchildren should be in the Top 20 of international comparison tables when they're next published. The PISA figures for 2012 which were published last week show Wales lagging behind the other countries of the UK.
At his monthly press conference, I asked Carwyn Jones if he acknowledges the scale of the challenge facing the Welsh education system.
A teaching technique that claims to help children relax and perform better at school has been developed by Bangor University. The Mindfulness techniques as they're known, are already being used at a number of schools including one in Colwyn Bay. Kevin Ashford went to see it in action.
– Ann Keane, Chief Inspector at Estyn - Education watchdog
The Foundation Phase is a vital part of developing young children's skills in speaking, reading and writing in Welsh.
We have found that the rate at which children acquire Welsh language skills is affected by whether or not children are learning alongside others who share similar backgrounds in home language.
Our report shows that in classes with mixed linguistic backgrounds, children from non-Welsh speaking homes sometimes progress too slowly and the progress of pupils from Welsh-speaking homes can be hindered.
More than 80 per cent of children aged 3 to 7 are making good progress in learning Welsh as a first language in Welsh-medium schools.
A report out today by education watchdog Estyn also reports standards in pupils' language, literacy and communication skills are similar to those in English-medium schools, and are in line with the expected level at that age.
The new report, Welsh in the Foundation Phase, considers standards in developing language in Welsh-medium schools taking into account whether pupils come from a Welsh-speaking home or not.
It also considers the balance between formal language development and informal activities which is a core part of the Foundation Phase approach to teaching and learning.
Michael Davidson from the OECD - the organisation behind the PISA survey - says pupils' social background is not a leading factor in educational performance in Wales.
Mr Davidson said: "Unlike in some countries where your social background really makes a difference to your success in education, that's not such an issue in Wales. It's more of a challenge to address the under-performing students."