Report slams 'failing' Monmouthshire education

Free Press Series: Report slams 'failing' Monmouthshire education Report slams 'failing' Monmouthshire education

A DAMNING report into Monmouthshire's education department today sees it placed into special measures. Education reporter NATALIE CROCKETT has the story.

MONMOUTHSHIRE’S education department is failing, school inspectors have found.

Assessors Estyn judged the council’s services for children and young people unsatisfactory because the progress pupils make year on year from primary to secondary school is well below average, the overall number of days lost to fixed term exclusions was too high, and the arrangements for supporting and challenging schools were not robust enough.

It said its capacity to improve was unsatisfactory because councillors did not receive the information they need to hold services to account and self evaluation is not rigorous enough. As a result is has been placed in special measures and the Welsh Government will be informed.

The report highlights that performance in Monmouthshire schools is above the average for Wales and its primary schools are among the best in Wales.

But the area has the second lowest rate of free school meals in the country and when this low level of deprivation is taken into account, performance compared with similar schools has remained well below the average for the last four years.

The percentage of youngsters leaving school with no qualifications is worse than the Welsh average and the gap between girls and boys performance at key stage 3 and GCSE level was larger than that in the rest of Wales.

The percentage of learners remaining in full time post-16 education remains the best in Wales but the number of those not in education, employment or training has reduced at a slower pace than Wales as a whole.

In recent years officers have not challenged schools rigorously enough to make sure they improve sufficiently and targets set with schools have not been effective in raising standards. As a result schools are not always clear on what they need to do to get better.

Not enough is being done to help schools meet the needs of pupils with additional learning needs and training for teachers and teaching assistants in this field is limited.

The authority has well-developed policies in place to combat bullying, but more could be done to help schools understand cyber bullying.

The council’s arrangements for safeguarding children do not meet requirements and give serious cause for concern.

The report says while all staff undergo criminal checks, processes to check for updates are not rigorous and it does not have a procedure in place to check that outside agencies who work with young people have appropriate safeguarding policies in place.

Although the authority had the lowest level of school reserves in Wales, too many schools have deficit budgets, and while the council has given funding to improve literacy and numeracy, it cannot demonstrate the impact of improvement because the schemes have not been consistently evaluated.

The report concludes that given the level of funding and the outcomes achieved overall, the education service provides unsatisfactory value for money.

The council must now come up with an action plan for improvement and a inspectors will visit the authority regularly to report on progress. If none is found the Welsh Government can appoint others to run it.

Comments (16)

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1:11am Wed 20 Feb 13

Teacher1977 says...

...and teachers get the blame for falling standards.
...and teachers get the blame for falling standards. Teacher1977
  • Score: 0

7:32am Wed 20 Feb 13

beneve says...

What a surprise . This fits in very nicely with Leighton Andrews vision for education in Wales.
What a surprise . This fits in very nicely with Leighton Andrews vision for education in Wales. beneve
  • Score: 0

8:38am Wed 20 Feb 13

Bobevans says...

There re two fundermental problems with Education andf that is the politicians and the teaching unions. Remove control from both of these and education will improve and costs fall

Perhaps one problem that migh remain iss the one of school closures. Currently we have far tp many surpus schools and politicians and education authorties tend to ignore it as it is always controversial. Everyone wants their school to sdtay open so nothing tend to be done or it drags on over sseveral years leaving schoools in limbo.
There re two fundermental problems with Education andf that is the politicians and the teaching unions. Remove control from both of these and education will improve and costs fall Perhaps one problem that migh remain iss the one of school closures. Currently we have far tp many surpus schools and politicians and education authorties tend to ignore it as it is always controversial. Everyone wants their school to sdtay open so nothing tend to be done or it drags on over sseveral years leaving schoools in limbo. Bobevans
  • Score: 0

8:59am Wed 20 Feb 13

bbunny_isl says...

beneve wrote:
What a surprise . This fits in very nicely with Leighton Andrews vision for education in Wales.
Nail on the head there. This is nothing more than a whitewash so that Leighton gets his way. Expect similar reports for other local authorities soon
[quote][p][bold]beneve[/bold] wrote: What a surprise . This fits in very nicely with Leighton Andrews vision for education in Wales.[/p][/quote]Nail on the head there. This is nothing more than a whitewash so that Leighton gets his way. Expect similar reports for other local authorities soon bbunny_isl
  • Score: 0

11:28am Wed 20 Feb 13

Reality50 says...

Not a surprise and the ridiculous compulsory teaching of Welsh in a county that has no history of Welsh speaking does not help. Welsh should not even be on the curriculum in my view as Monmouthshire in my view is part of England and 99.9% use English as a first language. Trying to force people on the borders to learn a third grade language such as Welsh is pointless and kids should be learning more worthwhile subjects. Welsh should be an afterthought. I understand why Welsh is relevant in the West of Wales and to a degree parts of the North of Wales but certainly anywhere east of Swansea it is pointless and irrelevant.
Not a surprise and the ridiculous compulsory teaching of Welsh in a county that has no history of Welsh speaking does not help. Welsh should not even be on the curriculum in my view as Monmouthshire in my view is part of England and 99.9% use English as a first language. Trying to force people on the borders to learn a third grade language such as Welsh is pointless and kids should be learning more worthwhile subjects. Welsh should be an afterthought. I understand why Welsh is relevant in the West of Wales and to a degree parts of the North of Wales but certainly anywhere east of Swansea it is pointless and irrelevant. Reality50
  • Score: 0

12:38pm Wed 20 Feb 13

brainfreeze says...

Doesn't surprise me when you see the state on some of the schools in the county, you'd think you were in Pakistan. Where is this so called investment going? Backhanders to the greedy construction companies no doubt.
Doesn't surprise me when you see the state on some of the schools in the county, you'd think you were in Pakistan. Where is this so called investment going? Backhanders to the greedy construction companies no doubt. brainfreeze
  • Score: 0

1:00pm Wed 20 Feb 13

Howie' says...

Bobevans wrote:
There re two fundermental problems with Education andf that is the politicians and the teaching unions. Remove control from both of these and education will improve and costs fall

Perhaps one problem that migh remain iss the one of school closures. Currently we have far tp many surpus schools and politicians and education authorties tend to ignore it as it is always controversial. Everyone wants their school to sdtay open so nothing tend to be done or it drags on over sseveral years leaving schoools in limbo.
Did you go to School, Bob? lol.

You would not think so reading that post.

I think for someone who can barely string a sentence together which is not full of grammatical and spelling mistakes you really should not be commenting on educational matters, best leave that to those who had an education, Bob!
[quote][p][bold]Bobevans[/bold] wrote: There re two fundermental problems with Education andf that is the politicians and the teaching unions. Remove control from both of these and education will improve and costs fall Perhaps one problem that migh remain iss the one of school closures. Currently we have far tp many surpus schools and politicians and education authorties tend to ignore it as it is always controversial. Everyone wants their school to sdtay open so nothing tend to be done or it drags on over sseveral years leaving schoools in limbo.[/p][/quote]Did you go to School, Bob? lol. You would not think so reading that post. I think for someone who can barely string a sentence together which is not full of grammatical and spelling mistakes you really should not be commenting on educational matters, best leave that to those who had an education, Bob! Howie'
  • Score: 0

1:13pm Wed 20 Feb 13

Anne teak says...

Welsh is taught because a lot of jobs in Wales demand knowledge of it.

If there are two equal candidates, it is taken into consideration if you have a GCSE.

If you want Welsh not to be taught in schools, then ths would have to be changed.
Welsh is taught because a lot of jobs in Wales demand knowledge of it. If there are two equal candidates, it is taken into consideration if you have a GCSE. If you want Welsh not to be taught in schools, then ths would have to be changed. Anne teak
  • Score: 0

1:14pm Wed 20 Feb 13

Anne teak says...

The report says while all staff undergo criminal checks, processes to check for updates are not rigorous and it does not have a procedure in place to check that outside agencies who work with young people have appropriate safeguarding policies in place......


That includes the school bus drivers then.
The report says while all staff undergo criminal checks, processes to check for updates are not rigorous and it does not have a procedure in place to check that outside agencies who work with young people have appropriate safeguarding policies in place...... That includes the school bus drivers then. Anne teak
  • Score: 0

1:18pm Wed 20 Feb 13

Lenin says...

This failure in the Education Department is hardly surprising. Over the last few years Monmouthshire has become a triumph of style over substance with more and more emphasis given to imagery and social media than the actual tasks of Local Government.

The mantra "It's not where we work but what we do" has been repeated ad infinitum, however the focus on what we do has been lost.

Increasingly MCC is involved in partnerships to deliver services, but it oes not lead in any of these, rather it dances to others tunes e.g. the Gwent Frailty Project where the gains are in the NHS.

By losing sight of the primary aims of a council, delivery of high class services to residents, and concentrating on an image of a progressive and media savvy council the plot has been lost.

Councillors are as responsible as senior management with inovation and ground breaking being the waych words rather than Quality and Service.

Responsibility must be accepted by those at the top who allowed the LEA to fail so badly, rather than blaming teachers and governors whio do no get the support which they deserve.

Clearly the Cabinet member responsible should resign having supervised a catastrophic failure within her remit.

Should the Welsh Government become directly involved? If it refocusses on delivering the education that the children of Monmouthshire deserve Yes.

But expect this to be spun as an exciting new collaborative venture in which Monmouthshire leads the way.
This failure in the Education Department is hardly surprising. Over the last few years Monmouthshire has become a triumph of style over substance with more and more emphasis given to imagery and social media than the actual tasks of Local Government. The mantra "It's not where we work but what we do" has been repeated ad infinitum, however the focus on what we do has been lost. Increasingly MCC is involved in partnerships to deliver services, but it oes not lead in any of these, rather it dances to others tunes e.g. the Gwent Frailty Project where the gains are in the NHS. By losing sight of the primary aims of a council, delivery of high class services to residents, and concentrating on an image of a progressive and media savvy council the plot has been lost. Councillors are as responsible as senior management with inovation and ground breaking being the waych words rather than Quality and Service. Responsibility must be accepted by those at the top who allowed the LEA to fail so badly, rather than blaming teachers and governors whio do no get the support which they deserve. Clearly the Cabinet member responsible should resign having supervised a catastrophic failure within her remit. Should the Welsh Government become directly involved? If it refocusses on delivering the education that the children of Monmouthshire deserve Yes. But expect this to be spun as an exciting new collaborative venture in which Monmouthshire leads the way. Lenin
  • Score: 0

3:16pm Wed 20 Feb 13

brainfreeze says...

No doubt we'll see tax rises in the coming years as we're told they need extra funds to get them out of this mess.

Instead of spending all their time on twitter and coming up with nonsense like monmoutpedia why don't they refocus their core business on delivering the services the public need and cutting the cloth accordingly?

The member who has overseen this calamity needs to go ASAP as they were obviously content to stand by and watch this disaster while raking in their "expenses".
No doubt we'll see tax rises in the coming years as we're told they need extra funds to get them out of this mess. Instead of spending all their time on twitter and coming up with nonsense like monmoutpedia why don't they refocus their core business on delivering the services the public need and cutting the cloth accordingly? The member who has overseen this calamity needs to go ASAP as they were obviously content to stand by and watch this disaster while raking in their "expenses". brainfreeze
  • Score: 0

4:18pm Wed 20 Feb 13

Robert Shillabeer says...

Reality50 wrote:
Not a surprise and the ridiculous compulsory teaching of Welsh in a county that has no history of Welsh speaking does not help. Welsh should not even be on the curriculum in my view as Monmouthshire in my view is part of England and 99.9% use English as a first language. Trying to force people on the borders to learn a third grade language such as Welsh is pointless and kids should be learning more worthwhile subjects. Welsh should be an afterthought. I understand why Welsh is relevant in the West of Wales and to a degree parts of the North of Wales but certainly anywhere east of Swansea it is pointless and irrelevant.
Monmouthshire is not part of England and has never been. Offas dike is from Chepstow northward to Dee Side. Look at any historic map for the truth. As for Welsh speakers in Monmouthshire, there is quite a sizeable section of the population who speak Welsh, I don't, but know many who do. Look at the history of Monmouthshire for the reasons Welsh was squeezed out of being the main everyday language and you will see the truth.
[quote][p][bold]Reality50[/bold] wrote: Not a surprise and the ridiculous compulsory teaching of Welsh in a county that has no history of Welsh speaking does not help. Welsh should not even be on the curriculum in my view as Monmouthshire in my view is part of England and 99.9% use English as a first language. Trying to force people on the borders to learn a third grade language such as Welsh is pointless and kids should be learning more worthwhile subjects. Welsh should be an afterthought. I understand why Welsh is relevant in the West of Wales and to a degree parts of the North of Wales but certainly anywhere east of Swansea it is pointless and irrelevant.[/p][/quote]Monmouthshire is not part of England and has never been. Offas dike is from Chepstow northward to Dee Side. Look at any historic map for the truth. As for Welsh speakers in Monmouthshire, there is quite a sizeable section of the population who speak Welsh, I don't, but know many who do. Look at the history of Monmouthshire for the reasons Welsh was squeezed out of being the main everyday language and you will see the truth. Robert Shillabeer
  • Score: 0

7:37pm Wed 20 Feb 13

Floppy backed says...

Like I always say an organisation is only as good as its management and management are highly paid in schools and at County Hall. Too much old stale cronies who need to be shifted out and those stupid unions are ruining schools.

Stop messing about set some strong rules and if the parents dont like it then ask them to leave. Stop having delinquents in the classrooms - get them out!

Scrap Welsh, put more time into teaching useful quals perhaps speaking & dressing skills I would an idea.
Like I always say an organisation is only as good as its management and management are highly paid in schools and at County Hall. Too much old stale cronies who need to be shifted out and those stupid unions are ruining schools. Stop messing about set some strong rules and if the parents dont like it then ask them to leave. Stop having delinquents in the classrooms - get them out! Scrap Welsh, put more time into teaching useful quals perhaps speaking & dressing skills I would an idea. Floppy backed
  • Score: 0

9:22pm Wed 20 Feb 13

Reality50 says...

nne teak says...
1:13pm Wed 20 Feb 13

Welsh is taught because a lot of jobs in Wales demand knowledge of it.

If there are two equal candidates, it is taken into consideration if you have a GCSE.

If you want Welsh not to be taught in schools, then this would have to be changed". Hmm I would confidently predict there are more people in Monmouthshire that work in Hereford or Gloucestter than the Welsh speaking part of Wales.Why on earth should speaking Welsh matter in the business sector? English is the world language and always will be. I have nothing against the Welsh language however in a totally English speaking part of East Wales it is not relevant to the school curriculum. Children should be learning French German or Spanish instead.
nne teak says... 1:13pm Wed 20 Feb 13 Welsh is taught because a lot of jobs in Wales demand knowledge of it. If there are two equal candidates, it is taken into consideration if you have a GCSE. If you want Welsh not to be taught in schools, then this would have to be changed". Hmm I would confidently predict there are more people in Monmouthshire that work in Hereford or Gloucestter than the Welsh speaking part of Wales.Why on earth should speaking Welsh matter in the business sector? English is the world language and always will be. I have nothing against the Welsh language however in a totally English speaking part of East Wales it is not relevant to the school curriculum. Children should be learning French German or Spanish instead. Reality50
  • Score: 0

9:54pm Wed 20 Feb 13

D Taylor says...

It's a strange twist of logic to blame failing schools on the teaching of Welsh. Do you think they wouldn't be failing if Welsh wasn't taught?
It's a strange twist of logic to blame failing schools on the teaching of Welsh. Do you think they wouldn't be failing if Welsh wasn't taught? D Taylor
  • Score: 0

8:54pm Thu 21 Feb 13

Mwy Eira says...

Reality50 wrote:
Not a surprise and the ridiculous compulsory teaching of Welsh in a county that has no history of Welsh speaking does not help. Welsh should not even be on the curriculum in my view as Monmouthshire in my view is part of England and 99.9% use English as a first language. Trying to force people on the borders to learn a third grade language such as Welsh is pointless and kids should be learning more worthwhile subjects. Welsh should be an afterthought. I understand why Welsh is relevant in the West of Wales and to a degree parts of the North of Wales but certainly anywhere east of Swansea it is pointless and irrelevant.
Have you actually read this article or the report ? It would seem not. What makes you think that the teaching of Welsh as a second language is any different in Monmouthshire to anywhere else in Wales. If this were the reason for the failing of this council then surely all the similar education authoriites would also be failing. Stupid suggestion. You obviously have no idea of the number of Welsh speakers in the north of the county in particular. Nevill Hall in particular provides services to a large number of Powys residents too with more and more need for Welsh speaking staff,especially for the elderly and young. South East Wales also has the highest percentage of Welsh learners. Welsh speakers move around Wales for jobs just like English speakers and don't live in caves in Snowdonia. They are allowed out you know.
[quote][p][bold]Reality50[/bold] wrote: Not a surprise and the ridiculous compulsory teaching of Welsh in a county that has no history of Welsh speaking does not help. Welsh should not even be on the curriculum in my view as Monmouthshire in my view is part of England and 99.9% use English as a first language. Trying to force people on the borders to learn a third grade language such as Welsh is pointless and kids should be learning more worthwhile subjects. Welsh should be an afterthought. I understand why Welsh is relevant in the West of Wales and to a degree parts of the North of Wales but certainly anywhere east of Swansea it is pointless and irrelevant.[/p][/quote]Have you actually read this article or the report ? It would seem not. What makes you think that the teaching of Welsh as a second language is any different in Monmouthshire to anywhere else in Wales. If this were the reason for the failing of this council then surely all the similar education authoriites would also be failing. Stupid suggestion. You obviously have no idea of the number of Welsh speakers in the north of the county in particular. Nevill Hall in particular provides services to a large number of Powys residents too with more and more need for Welsh speaking staff,especially for the elderly and young. South East Wales also has the highest percentage of Welsh learners. Welsh speakers move around Wales for jobs just like English speakers and don't live in caves in Snowdonia. They are allowed out you know. Mwy Eira
  • Score: 0

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