School banding brings a mixed bag of results

Published date: 13 December 2013 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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THERE WAS a mixed bag of results in Wrexham and Flintshire as high schools were banded for the third time.

Schools in both counties have moved up and down in the Welsh Government system, according to figures released yesterday.

The banding is based on complex calculations that take into account measures like attendance and “socio-economic factors” such as free school meals.

The best-rated schools are in band one, and the lowest-rated in band five.

Elfed High School in Buckley moved from band three to band two.

Rosemary Jones, headteacher, said: “Banding reflects a school’s performance and progress, encouraging us all to celebrate success across a range of selected indicators.

“At Elfed High School we have clearly achieved at the highest level, confirming our reputation.”

The most dramatic changes were at Ysgol Morgan Llwyd in Wrexham and St David’s High School in Saltney which both went from band four to band two.

In contrast, Ysgol Argoed in Bryn y Baal slipped from the second band to the fourth.

Martin Craddock, governors’ chairman at Argoed High School, said the governors had many serious concerns about banding since its introduction.

He said: “Banding involves a series of calculations based on the Summary of School Performance produced by the Welsh Government. Mistakes were made on the summary and this has impacted on the banding calculation.”

Among the errors in the summary was a statement which said the school provided post-16 Welsh Baccalaureat qualifications – despite the fact it is an 11-16 school.

Mr Craddock continued: “The governors and school are extremely disappointed that the mistakes were not corrected and have been expecting this impact. It does not fairly or truthfully report the excellent results the pupils obtained in 2013.”

Although the Maelor School in Penley showed a positive move from band three to band two, headteacher Simon Ellis was anxious not to let the banding announcement overshadow the recent announcement of the top schools for GCSEs in Wales.

He said: “We are delighted that we have been confirmed as the fourth highest achieving school in Wales as the banding information has been released alongside examination results for all schools. We are over the moon with these results. The pupils worked incredibly hard and to be told we are one of the best five schools in Wales is a fantastic achievement.”

A number of schools received the same rating as the previous year.

Peter Agnew, headteacher at Darland High School in Rossett said: “We are still in band four and are hoping to shift that up and have a detailed plan to do so.

“Obviously we’re disappointed to be in band four, but this doesn’t reflect improvements in teaching and learning that have taken place over the last year. Darland actually holds up well, compared to the national picture.”

Martin Hulland, headteacher at Ysgol Clywedog in Wrexham, which went into special measures in March, said: “We are on target to leave band five next year. We have a long way to go, but we are getting there.

“Attendance is up and we have made improvements. It is important to remember this is just one way of measuring performance.”

Pam McClean of Flint High School congratulated staff and the school community for maintaining a band one grade, although it emerged this week an education shake-up could see the school lose its newly established sixth form.

She said: “We are very pleased to be in band one for the second year running. We have worked hard and this announcement came at the perfect time, considering there is a possible sixth form closure on the horizon.

“We know a closure would have a detrimental impact on standards at the rest of the school.”

Cllr Michael Williams, lead member for children’s services and education for Wrexham, said: “I’m pleased three of our schools have moved up in the bandings.

These schools have made a lot of progress over the last 12 months and I’m glad that this has been reflected in the bandings.

“However there is room for improvement and we will continue to support the schools that have been placed in bands four and five.”

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