North East Wales

Denbighshire schools win Estyn praise after criticism in last report

School classroom
Image caption The report said the authority works as a "sector-leading practice"

Education services in Denbighshire which were criticised by school inspectors five years ago have now been praised in a new report.

The findings of the last inspection by Estyn in 2007 said services in the county were "unsatisfactory".

But now they have been given an overall rating of "good" with leadership regarded as "excellent".

Denbighshire council said the latest report "makes extremely positive reading".

The Estyn report found:

· Performance has improved at a faster rate than across Wales in both Key Stages 2 and 4; Key Stage 3 kept pace with that across Wales until 2010, although it improved more slowly in 2011

· The number of Denbighshire schools requiring follow-up after an inspection is among the lowest in Wales

· Attendance is good and has improved

· There are very few permanent exclusions and the number of days lost due to exclusion is the fewest in Wales

· The percentage of Year 11 learners not in education, training or employment has decreased steadily in recent years and is better than the average for Wales

The report also found support for school improvement was significantly better than the last inspection.

It declared Denbighshire to be "excellent" for leadership and "good" for all other aspects of the report, with "good" prospects for further improvement.

The "excellent" grading for leadership is the only one awarded in the 11 inspections already carried out across Wales.

"Sector-leading practice"

Estyn also praises elected members and senior officers for having a clear vision and high aspirations for the authority and communicate these very well.

It also refers to the transformation in the way the authority works as "sector-leading practice".

Councillor Eryl Williams, cabinet lead member for education said: "This report makes extremely positive reading and reflects the commitment there is in Denbighshire to improve standards in education.

"There was widespread cross-party support to improve education and there has been a tremendous amount of effort from our staff, schools, councillors, governing bodies and parents to turn things around."

In the last report, Estyn said wholesale changes were needed to raise standards in Denbighshire schools and found evidence of significant underachievement among children, particularly at GCSE level.

Council leader Hugh Evans said: "There was widespread acceptance when we were inspected in 2007 that we needed to introduce some major improvements to our education services.

"From that day the council made improving education its top priority and a lot of resources were ploughed into turning the service around."

He added: "We all have one main goal, to improve standards in education in Denbighshire.

"We believe we have done that the Denbighshire way and are extremely proud of our achievements."

More on this story