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Critical Estyn report shows too many children in Wales are still stuggling to read – Aled Roberts

January 31, 2012 2:13 PM

The Welsh Liberal Democrat Shadow Minister for Education in the Assembly, Aled Roberts, has reacted to today's publication of Estyn's Annual Report by repeating his calls for the Education Minister to recognise that the achievement of individual pupils and the support that will be provided by new regional consortia must be key factors in raising school standards.

Whilst many schools are performing well, today's Estyn Report shows that numeracy and literacy are "a concern", with a "significant minority" underperforming at every key stage. Additionally, 40% of pupils enter secondary school with a reading age below their actual age.

Issues have also been raised regarding the ability of local authorities to properly understand and address the significant shortcomings in some schools. Responsibility lies with local authorities to provide a briefing to Estyn teams prior to the inspection and in some cases to provide a follow-up report. However, the Report has identified considerable failings with the system, suggesting that "several local authorities do not know how well their schools are performing".

Estyn's Chief Inspector, Ann Keane, has said that "even where a school is judged 'good' overall, there are often individual lessons or departments where the quality of teaching is poor".

Commenting, Aled Roberts AM said:

"Today's Estyn Report reinforces the points I have been making to the Education Minister for some time and is yet more evidence that the Government in Wales needs to think very carefully about how it implements the school banding system.

"Schools in the lower bands must feel confident that they will be fully supported to make improvements, but it is clear from Estyn's report that school improvement services within local authorities need to raise their game before they become involved in the job of working as regional consortia. It is also imperative that the Government establish the basis upon which support is to be offered to those schools who have been identified as in need of improvement and time is of the essence. Effort now needs to concentrate on improving outcomes rather than working on statistics to produce bands.

"Best practice must be shared, and it is evident from the report that there are numerous examples of good work being undertaken that is improving pupil outcomes.

"The Minister in his response to this report needs to detail how the consortia will improve on the work carried out to date and more importantly the level of support and challenge that Governing Bodies and the professionals running the schools can expect."