The independent inspectorate Estyn (led by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education and Training in Wales) has this week reported back on its full inspection of Bridgend County Borough Council’s education services and outcomes.
During their visit in March, inspectors met with a large range of stakeholders including elected members, council officers, headteachers and learners, while parents, carers and other interested parties were asked to submit their views via an online survey.
Estyn found that pupils in Bridgend County Borough schools make good progress between the ages of five and 16, while standards at key stage 4 (Years 10 and 11) in secondary schools compare well with other local authorities.
The inspectors praised the local authority’s collaborative approach to working particular in improving support for vulnerable learners, reporting that it has a strong commitment to meeting the needs of pupils with emotional, social and behavioural difficulties.
Pupil attendance is good, the education welfare service is effective, and the music service has been judged as providing particularly good provision. There has also been a positive reduction in the number of young people who aren’t in education, employment or training.
However, the inspection also highlighted some areas for improvement, including the need to raise standards of literacy in primary schools and improve outcomes for post-16 learners in sixth forms.
Estyn also noted that the pace of progress in schools causing concern is too slow, and recommended the need to strengthen the role of the Welsh Education Strategic Forum to ensure timely progress in delivering priorities identified in the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan.
Cllr Charles Smith, Cabinet Member for Education and Regeneration, said:
“Estyn has identified many strengths and recognised how much we prioritise our education services and schools. Inspectors have also suggested some areas for improvement so we will now draw up a post-inspection plan to address those recommendations.
“I am particularly pleased that Estyn recognised how elected members and officers share a clear strategic vision for education, and this is reflected in our priorities and policies.
“The inspectors praised our ‘Team Bridgend’ approach to ensuring that young people receive the education to which they are entitled, and I would like to thank everyone who contributed to the inspection visit.
“I am also proud that Estyn has asked us to provide a case study for their website on our work in relation to young people’s involvement in decision-making processes in schools and the local authority.”
Bridgend County Borough Council maintains 48 primary schools (including two infant and one junior), nine secondary schools, two special schools and a pupil referral unit.
In 2018-2019, the council’s net education budget was approximately £108m.
The inspection can be read in full at www.estyn.gov.wales.