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Estyn: 'Very concerned' about secondary schools

Estyn's Chief Inspector has said the watchdog is "very concerned" about the standards in Wales' secondary schools.

Ann Keane admitted: "I had hoped to see better signs of improvement across the board."

23 per cent of the secondary schools inspected in the last year were judged as 'unsatisfactory', up from 14 per cent the previous year.

She told our reporter Tom Sheldrick that the common problems in those schools were weaknesses in leadership, policies on marking and absenteeism not being applied consistently, and not enough being done to help particular groups, such as children from deprived backgrounds.

23 per cent of secondary schools 'unsatisfactory'

Nearly a quarter of secondary schools inspected by Wales' education watchdog in the last year were judged 'unsatisfactory.'

The proportion ranked in the lowest category by Estyn is now 23 per cent, a jump from 14 per cent the previous year.

Estyn's has published its annual report today, and warns "standards of education in Wales have not improved in the main. The pace of improvement needs to accelerate and leaders in schools need to keep pace with the best, both inside and outside Wales."

Estyn has said it is disappointed that there have not been improvements in school performance. Credit: PA

Last December, Wales fell further behind in the so-called 'PISA' worldwide assessment of pupils' maths, reading and science skills.

Estyn has highlighted problems with the quality of teaching, assessment, literacy and numeracy, and leadership within schools.

It said special and independent schools continue to perform well, while the majority of primary schools are good or better.

However, the watchdog will be returning to 70 per cent of secondary schools next year for follow-up inspections, due to worrying standards in particularly areas, or across the whole school.


'Common approach' needed for schools and councils

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 need to do more to tackle poverty, says Estyn

Tackling poverty is not a high enough priority for schools, according to inspectors Credit: Barry Batchelor/PA Wire

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.


Early years 'vital' for Welsh language skills

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.

– Ann Keane, Chief Inspector at Estyn - Education watchdog

New report highlights progress made in Welsh lessons

Progress has been made in children learning Welsh, says report Credit: PA

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.

Calls for 'urgent action' to improve maths standards

Education watchdogs have called for urgent action to improve the standards of maths being taught in schools across Wales. It follows a report showing that pupils here are falling well behind standards being set in England.

The report by Estyn calls for better teaching, assessments and staff training to catch up with standards in other parts of Britain. It highlight's much good practice but concludes there is "too little support for the professional development of teachers of mathematics." Alexandra Lodge reports.

Welsh Government should 'support schools in raising standards' says Estyn

In its report, school inspectorate Estyn makes recommendations for schools, local authorities and the Welsh Government to help improve math skills.

Among the recommendations for schools are:

  • making sure that pupils develop secure number, algebraic and problem-solving skills at key stage 3
  • improve the quality of teaching and learning in lessons making sure lessons are well structured, engaging and challenging
  • minimise early entry for GCSE in mathematics.

Local authorities and regional consortia should: provide support, advice and professional development opportunities for mathematics teachers.

Estyn recommends the Welsh Government should support schools and regional consortia in raising standards in mathematics for all pupils and review National Curriculum level descriptiors at key stage three with a view to 'raise levels of expectation'

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