New school standards ‘are only adequate’
STANDARDS AT a new flagship £40m super-school are only adequate and 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 two-thirds 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 across the curriculum.
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