Education

Estyn report gets mixed response

SUGGESTING that the problem is not so much ‘fake news’; as fishing for facts to suit different agendas, the reaction to the Estyn report into Wales’ education and training has been a particularly illuminating example of cherry-picking for attention-grabbing headlines.

Estyn states that: “The underlying picture gained from this year’s inspections is similar to last year. Progress with fundamentals such as basic literacy and numeracy; and behaviour and attendance; that learners need to be ‘ready to learn’ generally continues: but variability within and between providers remains a prominent feature of our education system.”

A lot of words to say that improvement continues but there is a variation between different schools in different areas.

Not, perhaps, the sort of se arching conclusion that could not be ascertained without producing 158 pages of text, graphs, pictures, and excerpt boxes.

The chief finding of the report alighted upon by BBC Wales was that ‘teaching is one of the weakest aspects of provision in most sectors’.

Conservative AM Darren Millar, who could be relied upon to lambast the Welsh Government for discovering a diamond mine inside a mountain of gold, said: “The Chief Inspector’s report highlights a huge deficit of strong leadership in around half of schools across Wales, which is holding back teachers and children from achieving their potential.”

NUT Cymru Secretary David Evans said: “The key findings of the report are not a major surprise. The idea that there needs to be a focus on professional development for teachers tells us nothing we did not already know and that the NUT have not been saying for some time.

“No one would argue with the notion of promoting school to school collaboration or better access to professional development. The reality is that there remain significant barriers to ensuring this happens From a lack of high quality training provision, a lack of financial resources to release teachers or workload pressures making non-classroom activity almost impossible.”

Commenting on Estyn’s Annual Report, Rob Williams, Director of Policy for NAHT Cymru, the school leaders’ union for Wales, said: “NAHT Cymru wholeheartedly agrees that concentrating on developing excellent teachers and excellent learning in our classrooms is the most important core aim of school leadership.

“The mixed picture described by Estyn across Wales reflects the unprecedented workload required of schools and particularly school leaders against the backdrop of financial pressures.”

Against all of those words of warning needs to be set one key finding: improvement in education performance is continuing – at least according to Estyn, although you would be hard-pressed to tell.

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Dayne Stone

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