£40m school ‘needs to im­prove stan­dards’

South Wales Evening Post - - LETTERS - AB­BIE WIGHTWICK ab­[email protected]­line.co.uk

STAN­DARDS at a new £40 mil­lion su­per-school need im­prove­ment, ac­cord­ing to in­spec­tors.

Ys­gol Bae Baglan in Port Tal­bot had its first in­spec­tion by Estyn in Novem­ber and the re­sults have now been pub­lished.

The education watch­dog rated it good in four of the five ar­eas looked at, in­clud­ing teach­ing, but over­all stan­dards were only ad­e­quate and in need of im­prove­ment.

In­spec­tors found that teenage boys and the rel­a­tively high pro­por­tion of pupils el­i­gi­ble for free school meals in years 10 and 11 at the school do worse than peers at sim­i­lar schools. But girls are do­ing bet­ter than those in sim­i­lar schools.

The re­port by Estyn shows that more than 30% of pupils are el­i­gi­ble for free school meals at the school, far higher than the na­tional av­er­age of 16.4% for sec­ondary schools and 18% for pri­mary schools in Wales. More than twothirds of pupils at the 1,512-pupil school live in the 20% most de­prived ar­eas of Wales.

The new-build school for pupils aged three to 16 opened in 2016 after the amal­ga­ma­tion of Cwrt Sart, Glan Afan and Sand­fields com­pre­hen­sive schools and Traeth­me­lyn pri­mary. At pri­mary level in­spec­tors found the ma­jor­ity of pupils aged seven to 11 do not use a rich enough va­ri­ety of lan­guage to ex­press them­selves and do not have suf­fi­ciently de­vel­oped read­ing skills.

It found that about half of pupils aged seven to 11 have poor hand­writ­ing, don’t present their work with enough care and do not use their lit­er­acy skills well enough. For older pupils per­for­mance also ap­pears to be drop­ping and does not rate well with other sim­i­lar schools.

In years 10 and 11, when pupils are aged 14 to 16 and pre­par­ing for and tak­ing GCSES, per­for­mance in the level two thresh­old of five GCSES A* to C, in­clud­ing English and maths, was above av­er­age for sim­i­lar schools in 2017.

But Estyn warned that pro­vi­sional re­sults for 2018 show a de­cline which would place the school well be­low sim­i­lar schools.

Per­for­mance of boys aged 14 to 16 in nearly all in­di­ca­tors is be­low the av­er­age for boys in sim­i­lar schools and “per­for­mance of pupils el­i­gi­ble for free school meals is be­low the av­er­age for their coun­ter­parts in sim­i­lar schools in all in­di­ca­tors,” in­spec­tors said.

“At key stage 4 (years 10 and 11), the per­for­mance of boys in nearly all in­di­ca­tors is be­low the av­er­age for boys in sim­i­lar schools.

“Girls’ per­for­mance in 2017 is above the av­er­age for girls in sim­i­lar schools in many in­di­ca­tors.

“The per­for­mance of pupils el­i­gi­ble for free school meals is be­low the av­er­age for their coun­ter­parts in sim­i­lar schools in all in­di­ca­tors,” the in­spec­tion doc­u­ment says.

Higher achiev­ers ap­pear to be do­ing well, though. The pro­por­tion of pupils who gain five GCSE or equiv­a­lent grades at A*-A was above that in sim­i­lar schools in 2017 and pro­vi­sion­ally in 2018.

In­spec­tors add Ys­gol Bae Baglan is sup­port­ive and in­clu­sive, most pupils en­joy com­ing to school and many have a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude to­wards learn­ing.

Rat­ing teach­ing and learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences as good, in­spec­tors said in a few in­stances teach­ing is not con­sis­tently ef­fec­tive enough but most teach­ers pro­vide pupils with use­ful writ­ten feed­back.

Care, sup­port and guid­ance, lead­er­ship and well­be­ing and at­ti­tudes to learn­ing were all also rated good.

Lead­ers have also worked well bring­ing the schools to­gether as one, in­spec­tors say in the doc­u­ment: “Fol­low­ing the amal­ga­ma­tion of the four schools, lead­ers and man­agers have worked suc­cess­fully to cre­ate an al­lage school that is the hub of the com­mu­nity.

“Staff, pupils, par­ents and gov­er­nors con­trib­uted ef­fec­tively to cre­at­ing a vi­sion for a pos­i­tive, car­ing and highly in­clu­sive learn­ing com­mu­nity.”

The school will now draw up an ac­tion plan and Estyn has made four rec­om­men­da­tions on how the school can im­prove: Im­prove stan­dards of pupils’ lit­er­acy, nu­mer­acy and ICT skills across the school; im­prove the im­pact of feed­back and as­sess­ment on help­ing pupils to im­prove their work; en­sure self-eval­u­a­tion and im­prove­ment pro­cesses fo­cus more pre­cisely on pupils’ learn­ing across the school and; im­prove op­por­tu­ni­ties for pupils’ to use the Welsh lan­guage out­side Welsh lessons.

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