Monday, 7 September 2009

Top marks for Swansea's education services

Swansea Council's education services are among the best performing in Wales, according to education watchdog Estyn.

A report of an inspection carried out in June this year gives top marks to Swansea for its promotion of social inclusion and wellbeing in schools as well as for the support it makes available to children with additional learning needs.

The report describes the support on hand for vulnerable groups as excellent and points to the success of including targets in strategic planning to reduce the number of 16 and 17-year-olds not in full-time education, employment or training.

This, the report says, has led to the number of people in full-time education in Swansea improving at a faster rate than the rest of Wales.

Links between schools and Fforestfach-based Employment Training are said to benefit pupils and the policies in place to tackle racism and to promote racial harmony across Swansea's schools are praised for their clarity and impact.

Educational support available to both looked-after and gypsy traveller children is also described as excellent and the local education services are praised for the way they ensure all pupils have access to full-time education that meets their individual learning needs.

The report says pupils are well supported through the good use of Specialist Teaching Facilities, special schools for pupils with complex learning needs and the availability of Pupil Referral Units for children with social, emotional or behavioural difficulties.

It's said early identification of children with additional learning needs is effective in Swansea and that partnership work in pre-school settings is helping to offer quality support to them.

Cllr Mike Day, Swansea Council's Cabinet Member for Education, was praised in the report for his excellent leadership.

He said: "Many aspects of the Estyn report make for very positive reading and everyone involved in Swansea's education services should feel proud of the contribution they have made to this outcome.

"The key now is not to rest on our laurels but to strive to maintain progress in all areas and our Quality in Education (QEd) proposals will allow us to do that if they are approved by the Welsh Assembly Government.

"Their backing would help to tackle issues such as falling pupil rolls and poor school building conditions to ensure children in future continue to get access to the highest quality of education, the widest possible curriculum and the very best learning environments and resources."

The report also says effective processes have been developed to challenge and support schools, good support is in place for the development of basic skills and that a wide range of initiatives are on hand to improve the performances of schools.

Additional areas of praise within the report include:
  • The allocation of £4.4million in funds for improvements in school buildings.
  • The high standard of relationships with external partners and stakeholders.
  • The effective targeting of resources for schools in the most need.
  • The meeting of the demand for Welsh medium education.
Richard Parry, Swansea Council's Strategic Director of Education, said: "This is a hugely encouraging report for Swansea's education services and credit should go to the hard work of our education officers, teachers, support staff, pupils and partners.

"Recent A-level and GCSE results were yet again tremendous but this report shows our commitment to pupils with additional learning needs is just as unwavering as it is to the high-flyers.

"It's our aim to give all pupils the best possible tools they need to succeed and these findings suggest we're realising that goal in many ways and that we've been successful in ensuring no pupils are left behind."


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