First Minister's Questions.When's your reshuffle Carwyn? A political sketch.
The Welsh Government sends a recovery board to Anglesey to raise standards in the county's schools following a highly critical report
Wales' education watchdog reports that the Welsh Baccalaureate offers benefits to students, but the teaching of key skills needs to improve.
Inspectors say Blaenau Gwent's education services are still unsatisfactory, two years after it was put into special measures.
The council says there's been limited time to deliver progress since it was first put in special measures but there are signs of improvement, as Hannah Thomas reports.
The Welsh Government says it's concerned about the slow change of pace to improving education standards in Blaenau Gwent. The council's education services were placed in 'special measures' in 2011.
Today a report by the education inspectorate Estyn says standards are still 'unsatisfactory'.
– Welsh Government spokesperson
We are very concerned by Estyn's findings. Performance at the local authority continues to be unsatisfactory and disappointing. The Minister will make a statement to Assembly Members to outline the actions we will be taking with regard to Blaenau Gwent.
"The Minister will meet the Commissioner on Monday. We know she has serious concerns about the pace of change in the local authority and we will discuss the best way forward
Whilst the overall judgement of the report was unsatisfactory it has to be recognised that there has been limited time since the Council was first placed in special measures in September 2011 to deliver progress in many areas.
There are signs of improvement. As a result of the work that the Council and the South East Wales Education Achievement Service (EAS) has been undertaking the Council has more accurate information on schools' performance and is beginning to use the data more systematically.
– Blaenau Gwent Council spokesperson
There has also been good progress in improving attendance in Blaenau Gwent schools. An action plan needs to be prepared now that the Council's inspection report has been published by Estyn today.
The education system in one of the poorest parts of Wales is to remain in 'special measures' as education standards are still 'unsatisfactory'.
The school's inspectorate for Wales, Estyn has released a report today which lists a catalogue of failings which include:
- Standards of attainment are unsatisfactory, particularly in secondary schools
- The number of days lost to exclusion are increasing
- Initiatives for school improvement are too fragmented
- leadership has not generated improvements in areas of underperformance
The report does say attendance rates in primary schools are above average but the capacity to improve overall is unsatisfactory because:
The leadership of local authority services for children and young people continues to be unstable; the pace of action to bring about improvement has been too slow in the past to assure inspectors that improvement will take place without continued external support and challenge
The Welsh Government says there are serious concerns over the pace of change to education standards in Blaenau Gwent. The borough's schools were placed in 'special measures' in September 2011 when its education standards were deemed to be failing children.
A commissioner was appointed to oversee change but a report out today from the schools inspectorate for Wales, Estyn says education services are still 'unsatisfactory'.
In a damning report it says for the last three years Blaenau Gwent's council has not met any of the Welsh Government benchmarks for attainment based on free-school-meal entitlement and the number of days lost to exclusion are increasing.
It adds that officers and school leaders have not been held to account effectively and the pace of change is far too slow. The council has been told it has to provide an action plan in the next 50 days.
The council says there has been good progress in improving attendance in its schools but it says while the overall judgement of the report is unsatisfactory it has to be recognised that there has been limited time to deliver progress in many areas.
The schools inspectorate in Wales is appealing for volunteers to join its inspection teams.
Estyn is looking for people who have no professional connection with education to help judge our schools.
It's hoped the lay inspectors will bring a fresh perspective to assessing exactly how well they are performing.
The Education Minister Leighton Andrews says he is 'very concerned' with Estyn’s findings after they recommended Torfaen's education services are place into special measures.
He says it is "particularly disappointing to see that an authority that has had the benefit of an Estyn inspection, and been left with clear recommendations to address, has failed to tackle the issues with the required pace and urgency."
The conclusion reached by Estyn, that 16 months after their initial inspection the progress made by the authority has been limited and slow, is unacceptable. I look to the Leader of the Council to take the appropriate action.
These failings reflect serious weaknesses in the management of education services.
– Leighton Andrews AM, Education Minister
Our response needs to quickly improve outcomes for children and young people in the area, but any action we take must also be sustainable in the long term.
As such my department will be working over the coming weeks to consider how best to respond. A full update on our proposed course of action will be provided to Assembly members as soon I have determined the matter.
Estyn has recommended that education services in Torfaen are placed into special measures. The council becomes the sixth local authority to be told it requires 'significant improvement.'
The schools inspectorate said they found that since their "original inspection in October 2011 the authority has made limited progress against most of the recommendations and improvements have been slow."
"On completion of the original inspection Estyn identified five recommendations for the authority to address, during the monitoring visit the inspectorate concluded that the authority has partially addressed 3 of these recommendations and not addressed the remaining two."
"As such it is the view of the inspection team that the authority has made insufficientprogress to address the recommendations in the inspection report and thatthe authority should be placed in the category of Special Measures."
The leader of Monmouthshire County Council, Peter Fox, said today's Estyn report acknowledged schools there are still performing well, but could do better when deprivation is factored in, and that 'special measures' is a wide recommendation, which could include a range of approaches.
He told our Education Correspondent Joanna Simpson that the council is "already working with other authorities" on several education services, and is "already in discussions over how we can work in a more regional approach" over others.
The leader of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, Brendan Toomey, said Estyn's damning report into Merthyr's education services came as no surprise, and the council has instigated a number of improvements.
He told Nick Powell that he doesn't think it's inevitable that education services will move away from councils' control, as "local authorities need to have a big part to play in the delivery of education services, for accountability reasons."