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New motion would see Ysgol Dewi Sant saved

The proposals were passed by Pembrokeshire Council and will now go to consultation.

  1. Tom Sheldrick

Hundreds protest over planned school closures

Credit: ITV News

Hundreds of people have turned up outside Pembrokeshire Council offices in Haverfordwest this morning, protesting against planned school closures - particularly Ysgol Dewi Sant in St Davids.

Past, current and potential future pupils, as well as parents, chanted "save our school" as councillors entered to start the extraordinary council meeting.

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New primary and secondary school rankings due

Rankings for Wales' primary and secondary schools will be published later today, under a new colour-coded 'categorisation' system.

It replaces the controversial 'banding' method for ranking secondary schools, which was criticised for being crude and overly volatile.

The new model will include primary schools too, rating them according to performance data like attendance and exam results, but also taking into account schools' self-evaluation on their prospects for improvement.

Primaries schools are included in the new system, alongside secondaries. Credit: PA

Schools will be ranked from green at the top, to yellow, amber and then red for those at the bottom - which "will receive immediate, intensive support", and closely monitored.

Read More: Colour-coded schools: how will it work?

Teaching unions here have criticised the new system though.

ASCL Cymru Secretary Robin Hughes said: "It is a concern that the calculations may actually make it harder for the schools with the greatest number of disadvantaged pupils to show the progress they are making."

Education Minister Huw Lewis has responded: "Outcomes for our free school meal students are simply not good enough. Under the new system you don’t get to call yourself a top performing school, unless the results of your poorest pupils reach a certain basic standard. If there are those who seriously want to argue with the basic fairness of that, then good luck to them.”

  1. Tom Sheldrick

Welsh Govt vows to act on 'failing' pupil referral units

Wales' education watchdog has warned that some of our most vulnerable pupils are being let down due to huge inconsistencies in provision outside of mainstream schools.

In its annual report, Estyn said that, while special schools are very successful, too many pupil referral units are 'failing' the children who attend them.

The Education Minister Huw Lewis today pledged to act urgently to address the problems.

Tom Sheldrick reports:

Teaching unions: 'Steady but slow progress'

Welsh teaching unions say Estyn's annual report shows "steady but slow progress", as schools step up to the challenge set by Welsh Government policies. They acknowledge though that there is still work to do.

The overall message is that we are making steady but slow progress. Again and again the report points out that numeracy remains the weak point in many of our schools and colleges. We now need to bring the same focus to numeracy as we did to literacy, which has shown much greater improvement.

– Dr. Philip Dixon, Director of ATL Cymru

Ann Keane's final report shows some grounds for optimism, as schools and colleges respond to the challenge laid down by Welsh ministers. Outcomes in the secondary sector have improved - albeit from a low base - and the Foundation Phase is improving outcomes in most schools for our youngest learners when it is implemented as intended. Primary school standards appear to have declined slightly, though this seems to result from ‘raising the bar’ in mathematics rather than an actual decline in standards overall.

– Dr. Chris Howard, Acting Director of NAHT Cymru

The performance of our secondary schools continues to improve. It reflects the improvement in the quality and depth of the support through the regional consortia. This is making a positive difference. Of course, Estyn makes recommendations that need to be taken seriously. Secondary school leaders will read the report with care and reflect on the recommendations.

– Robin Hughes, Secretary of ASCL Cymru

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Welsh Govt: 'Momentum for improvement' in education

The Welsh Government has welcomed Estyn's annual report as recognition of a "new momentum for improvement" in the education system here.

It points to last year's GCSE results, when the gap with England narrowed, to proof of progress, but says there is no complacency over moving forward further.

We particularly welcome Estyn’s recognition of the new momentum for improvement that exists within the Welsh education system. We must now work together to build on that momentum and focus on key issues such as leadership which will ensure the improvements we want to see.

Building an excellent education system is an ambition shared by everyone in the sector. Last year’s GCSE results show we are starting to see real and tangible progress but we are in no way complacent and recognise that we must continue to work hard and focus on ensuring sustained improvement throughout the sector.

We will now consider the report in detail and respond formally in Plenary at the end of February.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

Reading aloud is number one concern for Welsh schoolchildren

A survey has found reading aloud in class is the number one concern for 7-13-year-olds in Wales.

Almost four in 10 schoolchildren said it was their biggest worry, with the fear of being laughed at the key reason.

More than a quarter said they would prefer to read on their own in the classroom instead.

Just 16% said they would volunteer to read aloud in class. Credit: PA

When asked about maths, however, almost half said they enjoyed doing classwork, with a third saying they always put their hand up to answer a question.

The survey is part of the Welsh Government's 'Education Begins At Home' campaign to show parents how to help their children do better in school.

Launching today, a series of community roadshows are being held to offer hints and tips on how families can learn together in a way that's quick, easy and fun.

It comes at a time when the schools watchdog Estyn highlighted problems with literacy in schools, saying there is still much to be done to improve standards

Confidence issues around maths and reading out loud in class is something we often come across. Any campaign that helps parents get more actively involved in practising reading and numbers with their children at home is welcomed by us. Having children of my own, I have seen firsthand the difference it makes when the whole family gets involved in learning together.

– Cerith Lewis, Assistant Head Blackwood Comprehensive School

Visit the Education Begins at Home campaign page for more information on the road shows coming to your area.

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