Flintshire Council will be asked to ensure local learners continue to receive effective educational provision through the COVID-19 pandemic when it meets next week.

Following a review of all 22 education services in Wales in autumn 2020, Estyn reported back to Welsh Government, making five key recommendations for the Welsh Government and councils to address as follows:

1. Urgently address barriers to learning at home, particularly where this is due to a lack of access to suitable computers or adequate connectivity.

2. Improve the quality of the distance and blended learning experiences for pupils by supporting more effective teaching across and within schools and pupil referral units.

3. Develop a coherent approach to improve progress in literacy, numeracy and personal and social skills of vulnerable pupils disproportionally affected by the pandemic, for example pupils eligible for free school meals.

4. Establish strategies to monitor and address the long-term impact of the pandemic on the physical and mental health of pupils.

5. Create opportunities to take stock and evaluate the impact of policies and practices developed since the start of the pandemic to inform future ways of working and curriculum design.

Flintshire’s first review letter, received in January 2021, was very positive and outlined the swift and effective response of the council to support children and schools from the outset of the pandemic.

It particularly acknowledged the strong leadership from the council’s Emergency Response Team and the Education Portfolio.

It highlighted the strength of the shared collaborative approach across the council and with external partners e.g. GwE, to effectively adapt services to meet the needs of children, young people and their families during the national emergency.

During the summer term of 2021, Estyn conducted follow up reviews with all councils to consider the progress being made against the five recommendations and Flintshire’s feedback was again very positive in each area.

Flintshire’s Leader and Cabinet Member for Education and Youth, Councillor Ian Roberts, said: “Estyn’s follow up review provides a high degree of assurance that the Education Portfolio has continued to work effectively through its own resources, and through its support for schools in partnership with GwE, to ensure quality educational provision for learners, particularly those who are considered to be the most vulnerable.

“I welcome this recognition of our position and performance and I am extremely pleased that the inspectors have recognised the good work being done by the education service in Flintshire.

"It is a credit to the hard work of all involved during an exceptionally difficult time.”

Chief Officer for Education and Youth, Claire Homard, added: “Estyn has acknowledged the effective working between our Council education team, our schools, the regional school improvement service and a wide range of key partners.

"It is this strong partnership that delivers a quality education experience for learners in Flintshire of which we should all be very proud.”