24 February 2015
Article by Michael Dauncey, National Assembly for Wales Research Service
Estyn’s Chief Inspector, Ann Keane, reports that 2013/14 was a ‘mixed year’ as whereas standards in secondary schools improved, performance in primary schools fell (based on the sample of schools inspected). Her report adds that standards are generally Excellent or Good in early years settings, maintained special schools and independent schools, although ‘weak provision’ in Pupil Referral Units ‘continues to cause concern’.
The annual report has already been scrutinised by the Children, Young People and Education Committee who heard from Ann Keane on 11 February 2015.
Under the Common Inspection Framework which is used for the current cycle of inspections (2010-2016), Estyn makes two overall judgements about the current performance and prospects for improvements of the settings it inspects according to a four point scale: Excellent; Good; Adequate; Unsatisfactory.
Some of the key findings of the 2013/14 annual report are:
- Standards declined in primary schools, with 62 per cent of schools inspected judged to have Excellent or Good overall performance, compared with 70 per cent in the previous year.
- ‘In many cases’, the decline in observed standards in primary schools is due to ‘weaknesses in pupils’ numeracy skills’, which Estyn has focused on more closely in 2013/14.
- The trend during the current inspection cycle appears to be a downward one. In 2010/11, 80 per cent of schools inspected had Excellent or Good performance but this has fallen to 62 per cent.
- Standards in secondary schools improved, with 53 per cent of schools inspected judged to have Excellent or Good performance, compared with 45 per cent during the previous year
- No school inspected in 2013/14 required special measures, whereas there were six in the previous year that did, and only one school was placed in a statutory category, compared with nearly a third in 2012/13.
- Whilst performance rose in 2013/14, 2012/13 was considered a particularly weak year and the proportion of secondary schools who are Excellent or Good is 12 percentage points lower than in 2010/11.
- There remains in nearly all secondary schools a general need to improve standards in mathematics and numeracy.
Literacy and numeracy
- Over the past five years, there has been ‘general improvement in provision for literacy and numeracy’ but this is at a ‘relatively modest pace’.
- 2013/14 was the first year of delivery of the Literacy and Numeracy Framework and there is evidence of progress in literacy but ‘the picture is not as positive for numeracy’.
The results of the inspections carried out by Estyn in 2013/14 are contained within the appendices to the annual report, ‘Inspection outcomes data and learner/parent questionnaire summaries’. The two tables below show the results of firstly inspections in 2013/14, and secondly for each year in the current cycle, which enables analysis of trends in performance from year to year.
Table 1: Inspection outcomes by sector, 2013/14
Table 2: Estyn judgements on overall performance of during the 2010-2016 cycle
The annual report for 2013/14 is the last to be produced by Estyn under the leadership of the current Chief Inspector and Ann Keane reflects on the overall trends during her five years in post. She reports:
‘Although Wales still lags behind other nations in its educational performance, there is, at the same time, a new momentum for improvement in the system and some indicators show an upward trend.’ [my emphasis]
Estyn has announced the appointment of its new Chief Inspector, Meilyr Rowlands who already works for the inspectorate as a Strategic Director. Mr Rowlands will take up his new post on 1 June.
For more information, view a previous blog on Estyn and changes to the timescale of its inspections.