Banding system good news for county's secondary schools

First published in News

With the spotlight firmly on education standards in Pembrokeshire, the majority of the county's secondary schools have shown improvements in the latest banding system results released last week.

The controversial banding system, which was introduced last year, puts schools with the best scores in band one, while those that need to improve are placed in band five.

And the latest figures show an improvement for the majority of county schools, with Greenhill and Milford Haven schools moving up by two bands, from band four to band two.

Greenhill School headteacher Jan Kingston said that the school was the seventh most improved across Wales.

She said: "We are absolutely delighted that the improvements we have made in attendance, and English and Maths, have put the school in band two, which is what we planned.

"It's all down to the hard work of the pupils, the teachers, and a huge amount of support from our parents, for which we are very grateful.

"We are absolutely delighted that all our hard work is being rightfully recognised nationally."

Milford Haven headteacher Islwyn Morgan said the new band level was good for the school and deserved due to the hard work that staff and pupils had put in.

"Everybody's worked very hard indeed and I'm delighted with that, I feel it's a real spring board to move on from.

"Like all measures there are strengths and weaknesses to it [the banding system] but it does recognises issues such as deprivation, otherwise it would be schools in leafy, suburban areas coming out on top all the time," he added.

Referring to recent reports published by Estyn and the Wales Audit Office Mr Morgan added: "Pembrokeshire is being slated, and yet, you have all the secondary schools in band three or above and I would pass my congratulations to all of them. I genuinely think parents have had an anxious time reading what they have in the press, but I think looking at the banding should reassure them of the standard that's in our secondary schools."

Pembrokeshire's only school, which dropped from band one to band two was Ysgol y Preseli.

Headteacher Michael Davies said: "It's very important that all this data that's flying around is put into context.

"The cohort of 2012 achieved the second best GCSE results for the school, so it does not mean that our standards are declining in any way."

Mr Davies said that 75% of pupils achieved a GCSE at grade C or above in English or Welsh first language and maths Ð the Level 2 threshold indicator Ð only dropping 3% from last year.

He said: "Using the government's facts and figures we ranked all 219 schools according to that indicator, and this year we came ninth out of 219 schools. And even achieving that, it was not possible to stay in band one.

"I think it's easier to move up the band than it is to stay at the top."

He added: "One of the most important things to look at is progress over time. At the moment we're looking at progress over three years, but if you extend that to progress over five years, you would get a better picture of how the school is performing. And because our achievements were so high over three years, it is almost impossible to improve on that."

He added: "All in all, we have all worked very hard with the students to improve performance. I think all the teachers and headteachers have to be congratulated in their achievements, especially in light of the recent Estyn inspection reports.

"It's disappointing that standards are not considered to be good enough especially in the secondary sector, when clearly significant improvements have been made. We have no school in band four or five, and I think that schools should be congratulated on that."

The rest of the county's schools went up by one band, putting all eight schools into band two and three.

Ysgol Dewi Sant acting headteacher David Haynes said: "We are absolutely delighted to be recognised as one of the top performing schools in Pembrokeshire and it reflects the hard work of the staff and children but we are certainly not resting on our laurels.

"We have made a lot of progress this year, and we hope to repeat that performance again next year."

He added: "It's all down to the dedication of staff, and the children who produced such excellent GCSE results in August."

Ysgol Bro Gwaun headteacher Nerys Nicholas added: "It's good to see the school improving on key indicators such as the level two threshold, including English, Welsh and maths, the capped points score and attendance.

"I appreciate everyone's efforts to secure the best possible standard of education for our pupils, and we will continue to work diligently as staff, pupils, governors, and parents, to maintain and improve yet again."

Councillor Huw George, Cabinet Member for Education and Welsh Language, said he was delighted with the progress made by Pembrokeshire secondary schools.

"We congratulate all our schools on their success and are pleased that all our schools are in Band 2 or 3 which is very encouraging," he added.

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