AN INSPECTION report has lifted the lid on poor attendance rates and high exclusion levels in Flintshire’s schools.

Estyn has carried out a review of the county’s education system which found pupils’ attendance in both primary and secondary schools compares badly with similar local authority areas.

It also highlighted that fixed-term and permanent exclusions for pupils in secondary schools are higher than the Wales average with spending per child also £105 lower than average.

Despite this, the inspection body said that youngsters in Flintshire make solid progress during their time in school.

Officials also praised the standard of education provided for pupils with special needs.

However, they added that some schools were being allowed to carry a financial deficit for too long by Flintshire Council.

In the report, they said: “Overall, pupils in Flintshire make sound progress during their time in statutory education.

“Generally, standards in primary schools are stronger than those in secondary schools.

“In both primary and secondary schools, the percentage of pupils who are persistently absent has been above the Wales average for the last three years.

“The number of permanent exclusions has increased over the last three years and is higher than the Wales average.

“The number of fixed-term exclusions in primary schools has reduced.

“However, in secondary schools, there is an increasing trend in the number of fixed-term exclusions of five days or less over the past three years.”

The inspectors made four recommendations for improvement in total.

They include achieving better outcomes for learners at key stage four and reducing exclusions and increasing attendance in both primary and secondary schools.

The local authority has also been told to manage the reduction in school budget deficits more effectively.

Flintshire Council said it was largely pleased with the outcome of the inspection, but acknowledged there was room for improvement.

Council leader Ian Roberts said: “I welcome this recognition of our position and performance and I am extremely pleased that the inspectors have recognised the good progress being made by the education service in Flintshire.

“It is a credit to the hard work of all involved.

“I would like to thank school and education service staff teams, governors, councillors and partner organisations for their contribution to improving educational opportunities and outcomes in Flintshire.

“Our education services have many strengths, and all service areas will demonstrate considerable drive and determination to address the inspection’s recommendations.”

Chief officer for education and youth, Claire Homard, said: “This is a really pleasing report and everyone should be extremely proud of the hard work and dedication that has led to this achievement.

“The report has noted the effective working between our council education team, our schools and the regional school improvement service and it is this strong partnership that delivers a quality education experience for learners in Flintshire.

“We note the small number of recommendations which reflect areas for improvement we had already identified for ourselves and we will continue to do all that we can as a council to prioritise education services despite the ongoing challenging economic circumstances facing local government.”