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Estyn brands two more Welsh local education authorities unsatisfactory

22/02/2013 Joanna
Wales' education watchdog has deemed that two of the country's councils are not providing sufficient support to those in teaching jobs in raising educational standards.

Estyn's report into education in Monmouthshire noted that while the local authority area's performance was above average for Wales, the council could be doing far better given the comparative affluence of the district.

Among the criticisms it levelled at the local authority were that the percentage of pupils leaving school without recognised qualifications was above the national average and that children were not making sufficient progress between primary and secondary school.

Moreover, it stated that Monmouthshire's arrangements for supporting and challenging schools were not robust enough and had not improved outcomes sufficiently and that the council had been reactive rather than proactive in intervening in schools.

At the other end of the social spectrum, Estyn has also deemed education services in Methyr Tydfil unsatisfactory, even when the level of deprivation in the county borough is taken into account.

The watchdog was critical of the local authority area's poor record on both primary school attendance and on pupil exclusions, while the council was also found to have failed to intervene early or effectively enough in schools where there were causes for concern.

The total number of Welsh councils taken into special measures now stands at five, with education services in Anglesey, Blaenau Gwent and Pembrokeshire having already been rated unsatisfactory, while a further four are currently under review.

Wales' education minister Leighton Andrews commented in a written statement: "I am very concerned to note the findings and the recommendations of both of these Estyn reports.

"Both authorities are in a serious position and it is abundantly clear that urgent action is required now to turn this around."

He declared his intention to intervene in both Monmouthshire and Methyr, stating that he was considering establishing independent recovery boards to oversee the required improvements, monitor progress made and provide accountability.

Mr Andrews also asserted that he could potentially hand some or all of the executive functions related to education services to another body.

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