As children in Wales prepare to return to school next week, concerns have been raised over the number of struggling schools across the country.
Currently, 19 schools are in Special Measures across Wales while 26 schools are in need of Significant Improvement – the highest numbers for both since 2014/15.
The Welsh Conservative Shadow Education Secretary, Darren Millar AM, described the situation as ‘heart-breaking’ for those children affected.
His comments follow his criticism of the Labour-led Welsh Government, in which Liberal Democrat AM Kirsty Williams serves as Education Secretary, for introducing changes to the school banding system in February 2018 to create an image of better performing schools.
However, the number of secondary schools in the worst category (red) has risen by 28% since 2016.
13 of Wales’ 22 local councils contain a school in Special Measures. Newport has the most (three), while Bridgend, Cardiff, Rhondda Cynon Taf (all Labour-run) and Pembrokeshire have two each.
It marks five years since Welsh Labour’s introduced education legislation – The School Standards and Organisation (Wales) Act 2013 – to deliver improvements in Welsh schools. At the time, this was intended to “sharpen the accountability of schools”, admitting that “school standards [were] too low and too variable.”
The figures were confirmed in an answer to a Written Assembly Question to Mr Millar earlier this month, who said:
“It is a matter of significant concern that the number of struggling Welsh schools has been increasing in recent years in spite of the Welsh Labour-led Government’s efforts to improve the situation.
“It is clear that too many children in too many schools are being let down by the failure of Welsh Ministers to get to grips with failures in our education system.
“It is heart-breaking for those children affected and will have long term adverse consequences for their future.
“Instead of wasting their time criminalising responsible and loving parents who smack their children, the Welsh Government should focus its attention on turning these schools around and giving out young people the life chances they deserve.
“The Cabinet Secretary must undertake a comprehensive review of the impact of the School Standards and Organisation Act to assess whether it is fit for purpose.”