Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Are Welsh Schools really failing in comparison with England?

BBC Wales report that 
Pupils in Wales continue to lag behind the rest of the UK in English lessons despite improvements, say inspectors.
More teaching of practical writing skills is needed, says a report by Estyn, which found a significant minority of schools have pupils who do not read or write well enough.
There are concerns about the standards of spelling, grammar and punctuation in English classes.
But the majority achieved good standards in spoken English.
Pupils aged seven to 14 are also still struggling to play catch-up with their peers in other parts of the UK, the education inspection body says.
Children can write stories in class but are struggling to fill in job applications.
The report, which makes 11 recommendations for improvement, also found:

  • Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds do not achieve as well as others and this gap widens as pupils progress from primary to secondary school
  • There is still too much poor quality marking of pupils' work
  • Teachers do not provide enough guidance on how to improve and progress is not tracked well enough
  • Schools need to continue to focus on raising standards of pupils' independent writing and provide challenging work in English to stretch all pupils
  • Girls continue to do better than boys, although the gap in boys' and girls' performance has steadily narrowed
The inspections took place in a sample of 20 primary and secondary schools.
BBC Wales  also provide us with a convenient Bar Graph 

But before I make a judgement I would like to know 

Is just  20 schools a large enough sample to provide us with a accurate assessment to compare with others?

There are 22 Councils  areas in Wales. So that less than one School  in each Local Authority are 

Just one failing school on this number could bring down the number significantly.

How comparable is the Estyn Inspection with those in England? Are the criteria the same?

Could it be more or less vigorous than in England? 

We need these answers because we need to access the data correctly.

But even if it was that Wales was doing Better than appears . Maybe its not comparison with England or Scotland we need but a commitment to constantly improve.


  1. The data comparing Wales/England is old data from 2013. Estyn's report was rather positive. http://www.estyn.gov.uk/english/news/news/the-majority-of-7-14-year-olds-achieve-good-standards-in-english/

    According to Estyn the schools visited "represent a broadly representative sample".

    After looking at the report itself, http://www.estyn.gov.uk/english/docViewer/314550.6/english-in-key-stages-2-and-3-june-2014/?navmap=30,163 it's interesting to note that Welsh medium schools out-perform English medium schools in English.

    "In Welsh-medium schools, pupils’ performance in English in key stage 2 has also improved over the past five years and is around two percentage points higher than pupils’ performance in English-medium schools."

    "In key stage 3 in Welsh-medium secondary schools, pupils’ performance in English has been consistently higher than in English-medium schools by around five percentage points."

  2. Well Yes but I'm not convinced 20 schools are enough and if it a "represent a broadly representative sample" how was this base? and within that Welsh Medium education would account for a smaller number within that.

    Quiet frankly it looks like a poor method of measurement.

  3. The figures that they used were the figures for ALL schools in Wales not just the 20 that they used for detailed study. The comment above from anonymous rather misleads; in fact Welsh medium schools underperform English medium schools whenever like with like is compared. Welsh medium schools are very middle class and have low levels of pupil deprivation. In 2013 of Key s tage 2 pupils in WM streams 12.2% were eligible for free school meals and in EM streams the figure was 21.7%. FSM pupils underperform non FSM pupils in English by 16.2%.