North East Wales

Flintshire council says Estyn school report is doubtful

A council has raised doubts about an inspection report into its education service.

Education watchdog Estyn highlighted a number of issues with Flintshire's schools, while praising other aspects.

The council said while it highlighted strengths, it was disappointed its current performance was judged "adequate" and it had made representations to Estyn.

The council's capacity for improvement has also been deemed adequate.

The report into the county's education service made a number of points, including:

  • Three-quarters of its secondary schools were "well below average" at key stage three at the end of 2011;
  • A third of secondary schools were in the bottom performance quarter for English or Welsh, maths and science;
  • Declining performance at key stage four (GCSE stage).

But other findings included:

  • Since 2007, performance has improved at a similar rate to that across Wales as a whole at key stages 1, 2 and 3;
  • The percentage gaining the expected performance in English, or Welsh, maths and science in combination - know as the core subject indicator, or CSI - is above the average for Wales;
  • Performance at key stage 4 improved at a faster rate for Wales as a whole on four of five main indicators;
  • There are few permanent exclusions;
  • Flintshire works well with a number of organisations, such as the Local Service Board, Youth Offending Team, and neighbouring authorities.

Council chiefs have been given 50 working days to come up with a plan to tackle the problems.

'Top performing'

Flintshire chief executive Colin Everett and director of education Ian Budd said they believed the judgement of the report was "doubtful".

In a joint statement issued at the end of January after the report was published, they said: "The council has a mixed response to the report.

"Whilst it highlights strengths in the performance of the Flintshire education service and its family of schools, we are disappointed with the judgement of adequate on current performance on standards in education.

"We have made representations to Estyn on this judgement.

"We believe that a narrow interpretation of performance data by the inspectors, within an inflexible inspection framework, has lead to a doubtful judgement.

"This judgement is not supported by a good judgement on our recent inspection of 14-19-year-old provision in Flintshire, learner outcomes and a series of excellent inspection outcomes for local schools in their individual inspections.

"Flintshire is one of the top performing education services in Wales.

"The council will work positively with Estyn to agree and implement an action plan to further improve our performance."

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