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Welsh Government: Attendance report is 'encouraging'

The Welsh Government has described Estyn's report into school attendance as "encouraging."

It says it has targeted attendance with increased investment, and including attendance within the banding system for rating secondary schools gives parents "a clear picture of how schools are performing."

Estyn's report makes encouraging reading.

In the last two years the Welsh Government has invested £800,000 to support local authorities and schools in securing long-term improvements in school attendance. The inclusion of attendance data in the All Wales Core Data Sets for schools and local authorities is a key source of information for schools to use in self-evaluation and improvement processes.

In addition, we have introduced school banding, helping to give us and parents a clear picture of how our schools are performing. Attendance forms part of the banding process which provides us with a constructive evaluation process to improve school performance.

– Welsh Government spokesperson

Welsh government responds to bullying report

“All pupils should be able to carry out their daily school life free from bullying. We encourage schools and local authorities to study the report closely, learn from those schools where best practice was observed and consider how they can implement those recommendations relevant to them”.

– Welsh Government Spokesperson

It says it has issued a series of materials called Respecting Others which give anti-bullying guidance:

"Included in the guidance are five key sections - homophobic bullying; cyberbullying; bullying on the basis of race, culture and religion; sexist, sexual and transphobic bullying; and bullying involving pupils with SEN and disabilities. We are currently in the process of publicising the guidance more widely."

– Welsh Government Spokesperson

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Bullying 'still a concern in Welsh schools'

The report says not enough schools record bullying incidents Credit: PA Images

Inspectors say too many pupils suffer from bullying during their school lives.

A report published today by Estyn also says schools have a responsibility to tackle bullying in all forms under the Education Act 2002, but the ways in which schools deal with bullying varies widely.

'Action on bullying', found that even schools with good strategies to address the problem don't have a common understanding of how important it is to focus on groups of pupils with a higher-than-average risk of being bullied.

They include gay, lesbian and transgender pupils, those with a disability and pupils from a minority ethnic background.

Education Minister: Improvements in writing needed

Wales' Education Minister Huw Lewis says the good standards in English highlighted in Estyn's report are 'encouraging' - but conceded improvements need to be made.

We recognise that improvements need to be made, particularly in relation to standards of writing and the performance of pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. Estyn's comments about poor quality marking and feedback also need to be addressed. This is not good enough and has to change.

The challenge now is to raise standards across the board by taking on the recommendations in this report and by learning from those schools where best practice is being observed. Our Literacy Programme will help ensure that the encouraging improvements that have been observed continue in the years ahead.

– Huw Lewis, Education Minister

Reading and writing progress 'still too slow' in Wales

The Chief Inspector of Estyn says the rate of progress in reading and writing is 'still too slow' for pupils aged seven to 14 in Wales.

Reading and writing are the key to success in all areas of the curriculum. Despite the improving trend in the standards of English, the rate of progress is still too slow for 7-14 year-olds in Wales to catch-up with other areas of the UK. Inaccuracies in spelling, punctuation and grammar reduce the quality of writing and affect standards.

However, there are schools that have been successful in raising standards in English and I urge others to download the report and follow the lead outlined in the best practice case studies.

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– Ann Keane, Estyn Chief Inspector

Estyn: Concerns remain about English writing standards

Estyn's report has highlighted a continuing weakness in youngsters' spelling, punctuation and grammar - but praised standards overall Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Wire

Pupils in Wales aged seven to 14 are continuing to show a weakness when it comes to spelling, grammar and punctuation, according to the education inspectorate Estyn.

In a report published today, Estyn said concerns remain about standards in writing and higher reading and that pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds do not achieve as well as their peers.

But the report also found the majority of pupils aged seven to 14 achieve good standards in English overall, with praise for pupils in English lessons speaking clearly during discussions and responding well to a wide variety of texts.

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Brecon High School placed in special measures

Brecon High School has been placed in special measures, after the education watchdog judged it had not made enough progress on "important weaknesses" at the school.

Estyn visited the school in February and found continued problems with GCSE results, attendance, marking and management at the school.

Inspectors will now monitor Brecon High every term.

Estyn judged Brecon High School to have made 'insufficient progress' since it was inspected in 2012. Credit: Google Street View

Chair of Governors, Councillor David Meredith, said the school "has already drawn up an action plan to ensure that Estyn’s concerns are addressed as a matter of urgency. The school has had a difficult history in recent years, and I am confident that this is now firmly behind us."

Another Powys secondary school - John Beddoes in Presteigne - was placed in special measures in December 2012, and will soon be closed.

Estyn says that, around Wales, there are currently eight primary schools, eight secondary schools and five pupil referral units in special measures.

  1. Tom Sheldrick, Carole Green & Adrian Masters

Estyn: 'Pace of improvement needs to accelerate'

The education watchdog Estyn says nearly a quarter of the secondary schools inspected last year were judged as 'unsatisfactory' - the lowest grade.

Its report, published today, warns school standards are not improving as they should be.

NASUWT: Report 'does nothing to restore credibility'

Responding to the Estyn Chief Inspector's Annual Report, the largest teachers' union in Wales said:

It is regrettable that, once again, the Chief Inspector has used the Annual Report to pander to Welsh Government policies and initiatives and apportion blame for any lack of impact on the profession.

This report will do nothing to restore Estyn's credibility with teachers.

– Chris Keates, General Secretary of NASUWT

ATL Union: More development for teachers needed

Teaching union ATL Cymru has called on the Welsh Government to improve professional development for teachers and school leaders.

Responding to the annual report from education watchdog Estyn, Dr Philip Dixon, Director or ATL Cymru, says "too much seems at a standstill and some sectors are going backwards. However there are definite signs of hope."

It would easy to become despondent reading the Chief Inspector's Report of progress made in the last year.

Too much seems at a standstill and some sectors are going backwards. However, as one reads deeper, there are definite signs of hope.

There is some excellent, innovative practice being developed and most schools which have been revisited by Estyn are showing improvement.

It's also heartening to read that some schools are reducing the effects of poverty quite considerably.

The report highlights the absolute crucial importance of good quality professional development for staff and leaders.

The Welsh Government should take heed and prioritise that need.

The Chief Inspector's observation about the lack of attention given to pupil's views on what and how they learn is a timely reminder that children and young people are at the heart of the system, and that must never be forgotten by anyone involved in education.

– Dr Philip Dixon, Director of ATL Cymru
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