Council urged to curb budget cuts

14th April 2006 at 01:00
Inspectors have warned a budget-cutting council against reducing education spending given that a quarter of its schools are underperforming at key stages 1, 2 and 3.

The inspection agency Estyn has praised support for school improvement in Powys, but says the authority must address falling achievement in all three key stages. It has also warned that budget cuts should be avoided to help schools meet the challenge.

Powys is planning a 2.5 per cent cut to the delegated schools budget in 2006-07, prompting threats of industrial action by the classroom union NASUWT Cymru to protect jobs.

Geraint Davies, its secretary, said: "According to Powys's own estimates, that would lead to the loss of 70 jobs. Such swingeing cuts would also badly affect the standards agenda, and Estyn's report underlines that even further."

Last year, Powys was in the top four local authorities for all key improvement indicators, with pupils performing above national averages for a number of years.

But in a report on the council's school improvement work, Estyn has criticised the "unsatisfactory performance" of just over a quarter of schools at KS1-3, saying they do not match the achievement of similar schools elsewhere in Wales.

Inspectors said there were:

* more schools than expected in the bottom quarter in KS1 and 2, and in the proportion of pupils gaining five A*-G grades at GCSE

* more schools than expected below the median in KS3; and

* fewer schools than expected in the top quarter at KS3 and in the proportion of pupils gaining five A*-G grades at GCSE.

The council said it will prepare an action plan for improvement but that much of the action needed has already been taken.

Councillor David Jones, board member responsible for schools, said: "We have accepted the recommendations and will use the findings to strengthen an already successful service."

Overall, the LEA was praised for its support for school improvement, having a clear strategy, an effective system for monitoring the work of schools, and for targeting those in greatest need of help.

In 2003, two Powys schools were found to have serious weaknesses but have been removed from the list. The report says heads rate highly the quality of the authority's support, while leadership of the service was said to be strong. But Estyn said secondaries get less support than primaries, and underdeveloped scrutiny procedures need attention.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today