A mixed bag on schools'progress

29th February 2008 at 00:00
Slowdown in core subject improvement but FE soars ahead

A mixed verdict was given this week on the progress of schools as educational standards in Wales witnessed a slowdown.

The best improvements in new chief inspector Dr Bill Maxwell's annual report appeared to be in post-16 learning.

Speaking at the report's launch at St Joseph's RC High School in Newport, Dr Maxwell said: "The picture is positive in many respects, but it must continue to be transformed if learners are to match the best achievements of the best-performing countries."

Standards in teaching in primary schools slipped last year, with 4 per cent fewer classes given the two highest grades.

However, 99 per cent of lessons at key stages 1 and 2 were found to be satisfactory or better.

Dr Maxwell said improvements in the core subjects would depend significantly on boosting the performance of boys.

But inspectors found that standards in lessons at secondary schools had shown marked improvement, with the amount of work marked as "good" or better increasing by a fifth.

The report, however, was critical about standards in core subjects. Wales's performance at secondary remains lower than England's - especially at KS3, where the gap is growing. More vocational choice is still needed in schools, with more collaboration, the report says.

In work-based learning, achievement has improved by 45 per cent on 2005-6.

The picture was bright for FE colleges, with overall standards deemed good. Learners' work was described as good or outstanding in 90 per cent of sessions inspected, well above the Assembly government's target for this year.

"Every year, colleges are raising the bar in terms of quality," said John Graystone, chief executive of fforwm, which represents Wales's 25 FE colleges and institutions.

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