PLANS to improve secondary education in Wrexham are set to come under the spotlight next week.

The proposals have been made after an inspection watchdog raised “significant concerns” over the performance of secondary schools in the county borough.

Estyn demanded urgent action to improve pupils’ achievements at GCSE level after carrying out a review of education in the county during October 2019.

Officials said high schools in Wrexham do not compare well to others in Wales and highlighted concerns over the behaviour and attendance of youngsters.

Since the inspection, Wrexham Council has appointed a new chief education officer in a bid to deliver an improvement in standards.

An uplift of £500,000 has also been given to bolster the department’s budget.

Cllr Phil Wynn, the local authority’s lead member for education, said the main aims of the plan were to urgently improve outcomes for learners, as well as their attendance, wellbeing and behaviour.

However, he said progress to address some of the issues had been hindered by delays caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

In a report, he said: “Following the Estyn inspection, the local authority produced a post Estyn action plan (PIAP).

“The purpose of the PIAP is to ensure that the key recommendations and actions are agreed and monitored in order to ensure that progress is made in an appropriate and timely manner.

“Scrutiny of the progress against the actions identified in the PIAP was a key focus of the improvement conference.

“The PIAP had been shared with Estyn in preparation for the conference that was scheduled to take place in March.

“However, because the conference was postponed due to national lockdown, our PIAP has yet to be agreed by Estyn.

“ In addition, a number of key actions identified in the PIAP had made limited progress or had not been progressed as a result of the impact of Covid.”

In the wake of the inspection report, the council was accused of letting children down by Wrexham Senedd Member Lesley Griffiths.

There was also criticism after the top salary range of its new chief education officer Karen Evans was increased to more than £100,000 in a decision taken behind closed doors.

A meeting was recently held with Estyn to decide how the improvements will be delivered.

A supporting paper produced by Ms Evans, who moved over from a similar role in Denbighshire, states that the local authority has a “detailed understanding” of all of the issues raised.

She said it had developed plans to address each of the problems raised and is currently working to progress them, despite the challenges presented by Covid-19, with school inspections suspended.

Cllr Wynn said: “The conference was a positive experience. However, no definitive feedback was received at the end of the conference.

“The lead inspector will write formally to provide feedback, although no judgements will be made at this stage. “

A further conference will be held during either the summer or autumn of next year.

The improvement plan will be discussed by members of the council’s lifelong learning scrutiny committee on Monday (November 23, 2020).

Councillors will also discuss the Welsh Government’s decision to suspend next year’s GCSE and A-level exams due to the disruption caused to education by the coronavirus.