Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Estyn's Annual Report 2010-11

Estyn - the Welsh school inspectorate - published it's annual report this week. The report is available at this website. For this summary I focused on "Insights & Issues" and "Sector Report", similar to what I did for the Chief Medical Officer's Report last year.

There have been several issues, in particular literacy, that have made headlines but looking at the report in more detail there are some seeds of hope. I'll leave you to judge the report's findings for yourselves.

  • Nearly all pupils "felt safe" at school, general well being at school is high and pupils generally enjoy learning.
  • Behaviour is improving in both secondary schools and primary schools.
  • School staff "actively engage in collaborative efforts" to improve the performance of schools.
  • Between 85% and 90% of parents surveyed were positive about their child's school. There are high percentages of learners enjoying school or college at all levels.
  • In schools that promote individualised learning, more able pupils benefit significantly.
  • Levels of attendance remain disappointing, rates have changed little in the last six years and remain below England.
  • Few teachers have a detailed plan for improving literacy skills progressively. Teachers don't see potential for cross-curricular opportunities to develop skills.
  • There are "significant challenges" in improving outcomes for Gypsy & Traveller children.
  • In a quarter of schools, governors have limited knowledge of the school's performance and rarely "challenge and hold leaders to account".
  • Headteachers in typically "coasting" schools often present performance data in a way that "hides real issues".

Primary Schools
  • Performance is "good or better" in 80% of primary schools compared to their last inspection.
  • 23% of primary schools need follow up visits by Estyn, with 5% causing "serious concern". Very few schools have standards that are "excellent".
  • In 30% of schools, standards of reading and writing "remain a concern", but 80% of schools are making "good progress" in literacy and numeracy in general.
  • Boys continue to under-perform relative to girls, but this is reversed in a few cases where schools offer targeted support, competition, use of IT, practical activities and male role models.
  • 40% of pupils arrive at secondary school with reading ages below their chronological age, 20% have a reading age below 9yrs 6mths.
  • Welsh language standards are good however some teachers are not knowledgeable enough or confident enough to teach Welsh as a second language at Key Stage 2 (KS2).
  • 10% of primary schools do not identify and challenge more able pupils, with too few achieving well above expected levels in KS1 or KS2.
  • Children often end up "repeating" activities at Foundation Phase and make little progress while "looking busy".
  • Children's writing skills are not as well developed as their reading skills by KS2.
  • Boys in particular have benefited from learning outdoors in Foundation Phase, children are more willing to attempt new things, persevere longer and shy children are more outgoing.
  • All children understand the importance of healthy eating and regular exercise.
  • Schools are improving literacy levels by introducing phonics, encouraging oral skills and providing a wide range of reading material.
  • 8% of schools had a deficit of up to £3million in 2010-11 while 18% had reserves greater than 10% of their delegated budget.

Secondary Schools
  • Of 31 secondary schools inspected, performance is "good or better" in 65% of them compared to their last inspection. Of these 13% were excellent, 32% were adequate and 3% unsatisfactory.
  • 23% of secondary schools need follow up visits by Estyn.
  • Nearly all secondary schools test pupils reading age in Year 7.
  • Most pupils "listen well and are responsive" in lessons, but in 10% of schools they are too brief or superficial.
  • There is much better linking between subjects at KS3 to develop pupils skills.
  • A third of schools have "excellent" care, support or guidance services.
  • Half of schools have shortcomings in accommodation (PE, Science and Sixth Form areas are singled out in particular) but nearly all schools use their buildings well.
  • Only 2/3 of KS4 (GCSE) pupils gain a recognised qualification in Welsh first or second language and pupils only make "good progress" in Welsh second language in 10% of schools*.
  • Most pupils feels safe at school however a third of secondary school pupils have concerns about the behaviour of other pupils.
  • 25% of secondary schools had a deficit amounting to £10million, 5% had reserves greater than 10% of their allocated budget.

Special Schools
  • Standards are excellent or good in 7 of 8 maintained special schools inspected.
  • Pupils well being was at least good in all of the schools.
  • Most schools provide a good range of learning experiences through to 14-19 year olds.
  • Leadership and management are excellent or good in 7 of 8 schools inspected.
  • Of the two independent special schools inspected one was adequate and the other was unsatisfactory in terms of outcome and leadership.

FE Colleges, Work-based learning and Adult Learning
  • Standards vary widely in each of the 4 FE colleges inspected.
  • Learners make good progress in developing oral and written work and are enthusiastic about their experiences.
  • One in six learners at FE colleges believe they have poor access to good work placements or believe that employers don't support them enough.
  • FE providers need to do more to encourage pupils into engineering, manufacturing, construction and business administration courses.
  • There are not enough post-16 courses that meet the needs of Welsh speakers.
  • All work-based learning providers have programmes for learners from deprived areas.
  • Adult community learning provides "effective support" for learners aged 50-65 but not so good for 65+

* It's important to note that while Welsh second language is compulsory in English-medium schools to GCSE level, the most popular option is a "short course" that involves just one or two hours contact time a week – similar to religious education, PE and IT. More detailed analysis of that here at Syniadau. I've also posted on the issue of language teaching at GCSE level.


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