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Estyn: Vulnerable children let down by pupil referral units

The Welsh education system is making progress, but significant challenges remain, according to the watchdog Estyn's annual report. Standards in primary schools slipped in the last year, but they are still ahead of secondaries. Inspectors say "too many" pupil referral units "fail" the vulnerable pupils who attend them.

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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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