Posted: Fri 13th Mar 2020

Updated: Mon 16th Mar

Wrexham schools need to “raise their game”, says outgoing education chief

North Wales news and information
This article is old - Published: Friday, Mar 13th, 2020

Wrexham schools need to “raise their game” in the wake of damning report, according to the county’s outgoing education chief.

Inspectors Estyn raised significant concerns over the performance of secondary schools in the area following a review carried out in October.

Officials demanded urgent action to improve pupils’ achievements at GCSE level and highlighted problems with their behaviour and attendance.

On the eve of the report, the head of education in Wrexham announced his intention to step down in August.

Ian Roberts, chief officer for education and early intervention at Wrexham Council, has now called for all parties to play their role in improving the performance of schools.

Addressing councillors at a meeting held yesterday, he said: “There is a significant challenge for everybody who’s involved in education in Wrexham.

“That includes the local authority and GwE (school improvement service for North Wales) as our equal partners in school improvement, but it also includes our schools.

“They’ve got a significant part to play in this and where we need to raise our games so do schools.

“They need to engage, and they need to respond to the challenges that are facing them and that includes school governing bodies.”

The report was published shortly after Ysgol Clywedog, originally created as one of two “super schools”, was put into special measures.

The assessment of secondary schools stood in stark contrast to those at primary level, which were said to be doing well.

The authority’s political lead for education told members of its lifelong learning scrutiny committee that he understood the reasons for the criticism.

However, Cllr Phil Wynn (Ind) also stressed there were some positives to take.

He said: “It is completely understandable why Estyn would deem Wrexham’s education service to be cause for significant concern.

“Whilst under no illusion that there’s much to do over the next 30 months to remove the categorisation, it would be remiss of me to not highlight that there is much to celebrate here in Wrexham.

“That includes Estyn’s recognition of the strong progress our primary school pupils are making, that our key stage three assessments for 2019 compare favourably with the all-Wales average and our school-based sixth form pupils are performing favourably.

“There were also areas of education department work which weren’t inspected by Estyn this time, but if they had I’m confident they would have been acknowledging the good work carried out.”

Cllr Wynn said recruitment for a new chief education officer had already got underway.

He added that a shortlist had been created and the council was confident of choosing a successor later this month.

Meanwhile, Cllr Alun Jenkins (Lib Dem) stressed the importance of delivering on the authority’s improvement plan, although details were not made public due to staffing implications.

He said: “The outcomes of the inspection were very disappointing, but at the same time it was a very fair report and some of the things in there maybe weren’t a surprise to us.

“(There is) an awful lot to celebrate so we needn’t be overly critical, but we do need to tackle the serious criticisms that have been raised in the report.”

By Liam Randall – Local Democracy Reporter

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