Pembrokeshire's education services 'unsatisfactory'
Pembrokeshire's education services for children and young people have been judged as "unsatisfactory" by schools inspectorate Estyn.
Estyn says the "local authority's policies and systems for safeguarding children and young people are not fit for purpose".
Although the authority performs well in some areas, Estyn highlights "unsatisfactory" improvement prospects.
Pembrokeshire council said it was taking action to address issues.
The report comes on the same day that Pembrokeshire was heavily criticised by Estyn and the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales (CSSIW) for its "wholly unacceptable" handling of child abuse allegations.
An Estyn inspection in June 2011 concluded that Pembrokeshire's education services for children and young people were unsatisfactory because:
- The local authority's policies and systems for safeguarding children and young people are not fit for purpose
- The authority has met or exceeded only seven of the 12 Welsh Government benchmark expectations for the last four years
- Learners do not generally perform at expected levels at the end of key stage one and key stage four
- Attendance rates in primary and secondary schools are only adequate and they have declined over the last four years
In summary, the report also found that the local authority had "unsatisfactory prospects for improvement" because, among other factors, "there has been a systematic corporate failure to respond sufficiently to safeguarding issues".
Estyn has recommended that Pembrokeshire undertakes a "comprehensive and rigorous evaluation of all safeguarding work within the education department and its schools", as well as raising standards in schools, "particularly at the end of key stage four".
It highlighted some positives, including that "learners achieve generally good standards at the end of key stage two and key stage three, as do learners aged 17 taking external examinations".
The council must produce an action plan within 70 days of receiving the report, and Estyn will complete another inspection in the future.
Council leader, John Davies, said: "The Estyn report raises a number of educational issues that the council is already addressing, particularly the need to raise GCSE standards in secondary schools.
"This was reported to the children and families overview and scrutiny committee in November 2010 and in April 2011."
He said measures undertaken included improved performance analysis and reports for each school, a new "assertive mentoring programme" for students and more challenging target-setting arrangements.
A Welsh Government spokesman said: "It is clear that strong and decisive action by Pembrokeshire County Council is urgently needed to rectify these problems.
"The minister for education and skills will consider the evidenced decline in school standards and other issues about education services, and expects to see the council's action plan in response to this within two months.
"However, the most damning aspect of the Estyn report is the finding that 'the local authority's policies and systems for safeguarding children and young people are not fit for purpose'."