Torfaen education goes into special measures

Torfaen schools go into special measures

Torfaen schools go into special measures

First published in Pontypool news
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TORFAEN Council has today become the third Gwent authority to have its education department placed in special measures - following Monmouthshire and Blaenau Gwent.

In a damning report by the schools’ inspectorate Estyn, the council is slammed for the "limited progress" it has made in relation to recommendations made by Estyn in October 2011 when it deemed Torfaen’s education department "unsatisfactory.’ As a result it is now in special measures.

Following the 2011 inspection, Estyn re-inspected Torfaen in February this year but said in the report: "Since the inspection in October 2011, the authority has made limited progress against most of the recommendations left by the inspection team. Improvements have been slow and standards in the secondary schools remain unsatisfactory.

"Greater change and pace are required in order to bring about further improvement."

It goes on to criticise a failure by the authority to spot underperformance and its impact on learners, and says that: "the authority does not identify clearly for schools, managers and elected members the extent of the improvements required or the pace at which progress is needed."

It says Torfaen remains too reliant on Estyn inspectors to judge the quality of teaching and learning in most schools rather than engendering a culture of self-assessment and shared good practice.

The report states that one primary school, one secondary school and the pupil referral unit are in need of significant improvement while one secondary school, Llantarnam Comprehensive School, requires special measures.

The 2011 inspection team set out five recommendations the authority needed to tackle by the time they re-inspected this year.

But of the five they completely failed to address two, including the recommendation to raise standards in secondary schools, particularly in key stage 4, and only partly addressed the other three.

The inspectors did concede that the authority had put in place suitable strategies to improve primary attendance rates and that those had risen to around the Welsh average and that Torfaen had made adequate progress in reducing surplus school places.

But in summing up, the report said; "Overall, the team judged that the authority has made insufficient progress to address the recommendations in the inspection report. The team are of the opinion… that special measures are required in relation to this authority."

Improvements must be made

THINGS have gone from bad to worse for Torfaen’s education department in the past year.

In February 2012 its education department was judged as needing "significant improvement" because performance in secondary schools had not improved in 2011.

Despite being put judged unsatisfactory, it was escaped special measures but months later in November Llantarnam Comprehensive School, failed to avoid the fate.

Inspectors found GCSE pupils' performance was lower than similar schools, incidents of bullying were increasing, pupil behaviour was poor and senior management roles were not defined. A new head teacher took over and some issues like behaviour and site safety were immediately address and it is now working towards its improvement plan.

Once a school or education department is identified as requiring special measures, Estyn will inform the Welsh Government.

An action plan must then be drawn up for Estyn’s approval.

A small team of inspectors will visit regularly to see if progress is being made towards addressing the recommendations highlighted in the report.

If no progress is made, Estyn will recommend to HM Chief Inspector that it will be removed from special measures.

If progress is insufficient Estyn will continue to monitor until such progress is proved, if it continues to report unsatisfactory progress, education minister Leighton Andrews may revoke its educational powers.

The Welsh Government is currently undertaking a review into how education is delivered in Wales.

It is looking at whether they should merged under joint management by different councils, if they should be delivered regionally, or should be removed from local government control to be directly accountable to Welsh Government.

Comments (14)

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9:04am Fri 22 Mar 13

Bilbo Biggins says...

LABOUR = FAILURE.

Our young people are having their life chances ripped away from them due to shear incompetence and the perverse ideology of the Labour party

The same incompetence that means we receive a 3rd world health service that lags behind the English NHS in almost every measure.

The same incompetence that means we are now poorer as a nation in relative terms. We remain the poorest region in the UK and are falling further behind. We are relatively worse off now than we were under the dreaded Thatcher years.

Keep voting for failure people. Keep voting for economic failure. Keep voting for scandalously poor health service. Keep voting our childrens future away.
LABOUR = FAILURE. Our young people are having their life chances ripped away from them due to shear incompetence and the perverse ideology of the Labour party The same incompetence that means we receive a 3rd world health service that lags behind the English NHS in almost every measure. The same incompetence that means we are now poorer as a nation in relative terms. We remain the poorest region in the UK and are falling further behind. We are relatively worse off now than we were under the dreaded Thatcher years. Keep voting for failure people. Keep voting for economic failure. Keep voting for scandalously poor health service. Keep voting our childrens future away. Bilbo Biggins
  • Score: 0

11:33am Fri 22 Mar 13

paddyparry says...

All this will be forgotten by the time of the next election because people are to scared to vote for anyone else. This is one of the problems of Welsh politics, people think that Labour are the only ones they can turn to. They ignore the mess that we are in that is not caused solely by Whitehall policy.
All this will be forgotten by the time of the next election because people are to scared to vote for anyone else. This is one of the problems of Welsh politics, people think that Labour are the only ones they can turn to. They ignore the mess that we are in that is not caused solely by Whitehall policy. paddyparry
  • Score: 0

12:00pm Fri 22 Mar 13

Bilbo Biggins says...

paddyparry wrote:
All this will be forgotten by the time of the next election because people are to scared to vote for anyone else. This is one of the problems of Welsh politics, people think that Labour are the only ones they can turn to. They ignore the mess that we are in that is not caused solely by Whitehall policy.
I agree entirely.

I’m not advocating voting for any particular party but we desperately need a change. For too long Labour have had no opposition in Wales. They get voted in however they perform so become complacent and lazy. They basically get rewarded for failure. Why bother yourself by doing anything. Just sit back and get voted back in. Being a Labour politician in Wales must be the easiest job in the world.

I think we’re in a desperate state and any change has got to be better. It could not possibly get any worse.
[quote][p][bold]paddyparry[/bold] wrote: All this will be forgotten by the time of the next election because people are to scared to vote for anyone else. This is one of the problems of Welsh politics, people think that Labour are the only ones they can turn to. They ignore the mess that we are in that is not caused solely by Whitehall policy.[/p][/quote]I agree entirely. I’m not advocating voting for any particular party but we desperately need a change. For too long Labour have had no opposition in Wales. They get voted in however they perform so become complacent and lazy. They basically get rewarded for failure. Why bother yourself by doing anything. Just sit back and get voted back in. Being a Labour politician in Wales must be the easiest job in the world. I think we’re in a desperate state and any change has got to be better. It could not possibly get any worse. Bilbo Biggins
  • Score: 0

1:25pm Fri 22 Mar 13

denlexx3 says...

i said to my wife a long time ago that wales would become a third world country when the assembly took power jobs for the boyo,s i called it and i was right its gone down hill ever since and will keep going down until we get rid of the assembly and the money they waste comes back to the people
i said to my wife a long time ago that wales would become a third world country when the assembly took power jobs for the boyo,s i called it and i was right its gone down hill ever since and will keep going down until we get rid of the assembly and the money they waste comes back to the people denlexx3
  • Score: 0

3:22pm Fri 22 Mar 13

Floppy backed says...

denlexx3 wrote:
i said to my wife a long time ago that wales would become a third world country when the assembly took power jobs for the boyo,s i called it and i was right its gone down hill ever since and will keep going down until we get rid of the assembly and the money they waste comes back to the people
Too right!

So much for WAG....spending money on buying Cardiff Airport, free prescriptions and having an minister for everything.

Have they achieved anything??? I want to see facts!
[quote][p][bold]denlexx3[/bold] wrote: i said to my wife a long time ago that wales would become a third world country when the assembly took power jobs for the boyo,s i called it and i was right its gone down hill ever since and will keep going down until we get rid of the assembly and the money they waste comes back to the people[/p][/quote]Too right! So much for WAG....spending money on buying Cardiff Airport, free prescriptions and having an minister for everything. Have they achieved anything??? I want to see facts! Floppy backed
  • Score: 0

3:33pm Fri 22 Mar 13

Floppy backed says...

Can we start improvements by revamping all uniforms - everyone wears the same full stop - stop girls dressing as mini sl*ts - why cant we ditch those scruffy polos - what's wrong with shirt and tie? Getting the teachers to dress as professionals.

More respect in class. Getting rid of children who disrupt.

Concentrate on english and maths and please drop the welsh (Primary level).

Get the children doing the litter pick, improve the surroundings make the area more inspiring.

Get business to have more input, get them to come into schools and come up with with some recommendations on improvement. Ask parents for ideas and if they can help improvements.
Can we start improvements by revamping all uniforms - everyone wears the same full stop - stop girls dressing as mini sl*ts - why cant we ditch those scruffy polos - what's wrong with shirt and tie? Getting the teachers to dress as professionals. More respect in class. Getting rid of children who disrupt. Concentrate on english and maths and please drop the welsh (Primary level). Get the children doing the litter pick, improve the surroundings make the area more inspiring. Get business to have more input, get them to come into schools and come up with with some recommendations on improvement. Ask parents for ideas and if they can help improvements. Floppy backed
  • Score: 0

3:34pm Fri 22 Mar 13

Magor says...

Newport goes from bad to worse but you never hear from the two Labour MPs.
Newport goes from bad to worse but you never hear from the two Labour MPs. Magor
  • Score: 0

5:37pm Fri 22 Mar 13

Realist UK says...

Teachers are guided by Heads and Governors to achieve inflated statistics. Meaningless numbers are produced when children leave school barely able to read or write. Thank goodness inspections take place which highlight their shortcomings. Those responsible for running a school that is put into special measures should be made to resign. These people are so full of their self-importance but are totally clueless.
Teachers are guided by Heads and Governors to achieve inflated statistics. Meaningless numbers are produced when children leave school barely able to read or write. Thank goodness inspections take place which highlight their shortcomings. Those responsible for running a school that is put into special measures should be made to resign. These people are so full of their self-importance but are totally clueless. Realist UK
  • Score: 0

10:04am Sat 23 Mar 13

cantbelieveitsnotbetter says...

not surprising really when it was said (by someone responsible in this area) after the initial inspection, that, this is good news for torfaen schools as at least we dont have a brain drain in torfaen as all schools are at the same standard- pity that standard is well below par & profoundly damaging to the young peoples lives, their families and ecenomic future of torfaen as a whole. elected members playing silly buggers.
not surprising really when it was said (by someone responsible in this area) after the initial inspection, that, this is good news for torfaen schools as at least we dont have a brain drain in torfaen as all schools are at the same standard- pity that standard is well below par & profoundly damaging to the young peoples lives, their families and ecenomic future of torfaen as a whole. elected members playing silly buggers. cantbelieveitsnotbetter
  • Score: 0

12:01pm Sat 23 Mar 13

Anne teak says...

Bankers get bonuses for outcomes, why not teachers?

Children could be tested at 11 and teachers paid accordingly on achievement.
Bankers get bonuses for outcomes, why not teachers? Children could be tested at 11 and teachers paid accordingly on achievement. Anne teak
  • Score: 0

3:33pm Sat 23 Mar 13

Alessi says...

Education within Torfaen Borough Council is under the spot light again. It would appear that it has been failing for several years, and probably the Education and Learning Department will push all the blame towards the Headmasters and Governors. Torfaen Borough Council is not just failing in Education and Learning. Services throughout the Borough are being cut year on year but our Council Tax never fails to increase.
Estyn has put the Councils Education and Training into to special measures. I am convinced that if there were other inspectorates looking at the other services provided by the Council, then these would be put into special measures too.
Torfaen Borough Council is failing all its residents with all services being cut or just run badly.
With regards to education the Torfaen website says:-
"We want to assure Torfaen residents that education is our priority. We have continued to invest in education and even in the current financial climate of cuts we have continued to increase the budget for schools."
What’s the point in investing in increasing budgets if you can’t get the improvement required? Throwing money at a problem doesn’t solve the problem. Spending £2 million pounds on IT equipment that was not really needed is just another example of how our money is wasted.
It is about time the Chief Executive, Deputy Chief Executive, Assistant Chief Executives, Strategic Directors and Chief Officers all took a long hard look at what they are not achieving and take the appropriate action. If that means resigning so that someone else can do a better job, so be it.
We have approximately 45 councillors who cost us over £800,000 a year in allowances and expenses. What do we get for all of this money?
Yes we want a better education for our children; we want to encourage businesses to come to Torfaen to provide jobs, we want better roads and transport links from the outlying communities to Pontypool and Cwmbran, we need better health facilities and social care services. So come on Torfaen Borough Council, come on Councillors, get your act together and give us value for money and stop wasting millions of pounds that could be used to improve services.
Education within Torfaen Borough Council is under the spot light again. It would appear that it has been failing for several years, and probably the Education and Learning Department will push all the blame towards the Headmasters and Governors. Torfaen Borough Council is not just failing in Education and Learning. Services throughout the Borough are being cut year on year but our Council Tax never fails to increase. Estyn has put the Councils Education and Training into to special measures. I am convinced that if there were other inspectorates looking at the other services provided by the Council, then these would be put into special measures too. Torfaen Borough Council is failing all its residents with all services being cut or just run badly. With regards to education the Torfaen website says:- "We want to assure Torfaen residents that education is our priority. We have continued to invest in education and even in the current financial climate of cuts we have continued to increase the budget for schools." What’s the point in investing in increasing budgets if you can’t get the improvement required? Throwing money at a problem doesn’t solve the problem. Spending £2 million pounds on IT equipment that was not really needed is just another example of how our money is wasted. It is about time the Chief Executive, Deputy Chief Executive, Assistant Chief Executives, Strategic Directors and Chief Officers all took a long hard look at what they are not achieving and take the appropriate action. If that means resigning so that someone else can do a better job, so be it. We have approximately 45 councillors who cost us over £800,000 a year in allowances and expenses. What do we get for all of this money? Yes we want a better education for our children; we want to encourage businesses to come to Torfaen to provide jobs, we want better roads and transport links from the outlying communities to Pontypool and Cwmbran, we need better health facilities and social care services. So come on Torfaen Borough Council, come on Councillors, get your act together and give us value for money and stop wasting millions of pounds that could be used to improve services. Alessi
  • Score: 0

4:30pm Sat 23 Mar 13

coalpicker says...

The problem was given its grounding when the five unitary authorities were
inaugurated ,not enough first class education officers to share between them,the consequence is what we are now experiencing ,coupled with teachers
complete inability to control pupil's or
change their jealously guarded work practices ,including their holidays. The Abersychan comp is a classic example
where residents around the school have complained to the head ,the police and the council at the indiscipline, the litter and the abuse
they are experiencing to no avail ,is there any wonder that education standards are abysmal. Give teachers the tools if they then fail to educate their charges sack them .
The problem was given its grounding when the five unitary authorities were inaugurated ,not enough first class education officers to share between them,the consequence is what we are now experiencing ,coupled with teachers complete inability to control pupil's or change their jealously guarded work practices ,including their holidays. The Abersychan comp is a classic example where residents around the school have complained to the head ,the police and the council at the indiscipline, the litter and the abuse they are experiencing to no avail ,is there any wonder that education standards are abysmal. Give teachers the tools if they then fail to educate their charges sack them . coalpicker
  • Score: 0

5:00pm Sun 24 Mar 13

Floppy backed says...

I don't see its up to teachers to spend all their time discipling children, children should come to school given the basic grounding on respect and behaviour - if they fail then they should be taken out of the class. When applying and accepting a place at a school parents should sign a piece of paper in agreement that their children have no behaviour problems, have respect and are willing to take discipline. If they cant agree on this then they'll have to find a different school. School's have to be harder and the head should have a zero tolerance attitude - all this 'PC' education isnt working lets go back to the head being top dog and no longer this 'friendly' figure. Think old school worked best.
I don't see its up to teachers to spend all their time discipling children, children should come to school given the basic grounding on respect and behaviour - if they fail then they should be taken out of the class. When applying and accepting a place at a school parents should sign a piece of paper in agreement that their children have no behaviour problems, have respect and are willing to take discipline. If they cant agree on this then they'll have to find a different school. School's have to be harder and the head should have a zero tolerance attitude - all this 'PC' education isnt working lets go back to the head being top dog and no longer this 'friendly' figure. Think old school worked best. Floppy backed
  • Score: 0

5:18pm Mon 25 Mar 13

Bill P says...

Torfaen have had three Directors of Education in the last six (?) years. None of them have had the ability/support necessary to effectively tackle the relative (to other UK areas and countries) decline in education standards.

The people ultimately responsible are those who are pulling the strings. Unfortunately we seem to be stuck in a rut and refuse to vote out politicians who themselves seem intent on sticking to outdated values and policies.

We do need leaders who are prepared to make tough decisions but as voters are we prepared to vote for such people?
Torfaen have had three Directors of Education in the last six (?) years. None of them have had the ability/support necessary to effectively tackle the relative (to other UK areas and countries) decline in education standards. The people ultimately responsible are those who are pulling the strings. Unfortunately we seem to be stuck in a rut and refuse to vote out politicians who themselves seem intent on sticking to outdated values and policies. We do need leaders who are prepared to make tough decisions but as voters are we prepared to vote for such people? Bill P
  • Score: 0

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