Education Achievement Service

Council meeting 28 July 2015

Question to Cabinet Member for Education & Young People from Cllr David Atwell

Subject: Education Achievement Service

Question 2

Question: The Education Advisory Service with which Newport City Council were obliged to be part of in 2012, inherited three out of the five member authorities in Special Measures following Estyn inspections.  

However, what was supposed to improve our education in Newport, has had the opposite effect for which we were all concerned at the time, and it appears that it has declined in certain areas and to quote just three examples:

  • Foundation Phase - performance has declined in Newport.
  • Key stage 2 - Welsh (1st), mathematics and science in Newport, has declined.
  • Key stage 3 - indicates whilst performance has improved across the region and most LAs, results for the region remain below the national figures in all indicators and the overall rate of progress was slower than across Wales. However, performance declined in the CSI, mathematics and science in Newport.

Members were concerned that with Newport’s standards being amongst the best in Wales in 2012, standards have now slipped.  

Despite three years of the EAS taking control of our education system, there are still three Education Authorities in special measures, and so what actions are you taking to return Newport’s standards of education to what we all expect and have been used to in our past.          

Answer:  I’m sure that Cllr Atwell will recognise, as a previous holder of this portfolio that no national comparative data, such as the national average, benchmark boundaries and family averages are available at this stage of the academic year.  The response to the questions he raises that I can provide however are summaries of key performance indicators at local authority and regional level, and against targets.

I acknowledge that some areas of performance require development in partnership between the local authority, our schools and the Education Achievement Service – after all I always told my pupils that the biggest room in the world was the room for improvement.  

For Newport this includes increasing the percentage of pupils attaining the Outcome 6+ Foundation Phase Indicator and increasing Key Stage 3 Science Level 6+ performance so it is in line with the regional average.  However, the 2015 performance data indicates that Newport continues to perform well against local authority targets and in its ranking within the regional consortia. I believe that this demonstrates an effective partnership between schools, the local authority and the Education Achievement Service in its early years of operation. We will however continue to keep the partnership under close review with regular meetings of the Joint Executive Group; Board meetings attended by my colleague Cllr Whitcutt and regular scrutiny attendance by senior officers of the EAS directly reporting to members.  

I have a comprehensive list of the data and attainment of Newport over the past three years since this administration took over in 2012 and what it shows is that the commitment that we have given to provide the best possible educational opportunities for our children and young people are evidenced in the outcomes reported.  

In order to meet the requirements of the time allowed in answering questions I suggest that I make this detailed data available to members in a written response instead of reading out lists of what Newport education has achieved over the last three years but I will note the following headline successes.  

  • Newport was the only local authority in the South East Wales region to meet their 2015 Local Authority Level 5 Foundation Phase Indicator target.
  • Newport is performing above the regional average at both Level 4 and Level 5 attainment in KS2
  • In 2014 and 2015 a higher percentage of Newport pupils obtained Level 5+ Welsh (49%) than all other local authorities in the South East Wales Consortium. 
  • Newport is above the regional average in Maths at Level 4+
  • Newport is significantly above the regional average of 44% in Level 4+ Science
  • The 2015 Level 6+ data places Newport above the regional average in Key Stage 3 Core Subject Indicators of English, Maths and Science

It just remains for me to thank Cllr Atwell for asking the questions that allow me to highlight the achievements of the new service and assuring the wider public that attainment for all of our pupils in Newport irrespective of background continues to be a priority for the administration – a real concern however is that in 2015-16, the Welsh budget will be nearly £1.7bn less than it was in 2010-11 as a result of the Tory government’s cuts and trying to maintain education spending in Newport in the face of this austerity agenda is of great concern.

I would urge Cllr Atwell to lobby his government colleagues in Westminster on behalf of Newport to ensure that public service funding, particularly education funding is not under such severe pressure and that we can continue to see the improvements of the past three years grow even further in the future.

On a final note, I will share my report I gave to the Labour Group last evening which shows the successes of Newport Education and some of the things I have done over the past few months

Supplementary question

Councillor Atwell: Whilst Scrutiny was embodied in the document that established the EAS, I am not aware of Scrutiny taking place.

Cabinet Member: I am aware that officers of the EAS have attended Scrutiny in Newport but I agree that it is an ongoing concern for all of us to ensure that effective scrutiny takes place.

Detailed Data for Members

Foundation Phase (Year 2 Data) - Pupil attainment of the Foundation Phase Indicator (Level 5+) increased from 87% in 2012 to 88% of pupils in 2015.  Newport was the only local authority in the South East Wales region to meet their 2015 Local Authority Level 5 Foundation Phase Indicator target.

Key Stage 2 (Year 6 Data) - Pupil attainment of the Level 4+ Core Subject Indicator increased from 86% of pupils 2012 to 89% of pupils 2015.  Attainment of the Level 5+ Core Subject Indicator increased from 34% of pupils in 2012 to 40% of pupils in 2015.  Newport is performing above the regional average at both Level 4 and Level 5 attainment.

Pupil performance in Welsh (1st Language) at National Curriculum Level 4+ has increased from 82% of pupils achieving the level in 2012 to 94% of pupils in 2015.  In 2014 and 2015 a higher percentage of Newport pupils obtained Level 5+ Welsh (49%) than all other local authorities in the South East Wales Consortium.  

Pupil performance in Mathematics at National Curriculum Level 4+ has increased from 89% of pupils in 2012 to 91% of pupils in 2015.  This places Newport above the regional average. Pupil performance in Mathematics at National Curriculum Level 5+ has increased from 43% of pupils in 2012 to 48% of pupils in 2015.    

Pupil performance in Science at National Curriculum Level 4+ has increased from 92% of pupils achieving the level in 2012 to 93% of pupils in 2015.  Pupil performance in Science at National Curriculum Level 5+ has increased from 48% of pupils achieving the level in 2012 to 51% of pupils in 2015 which places Newport significantly above the regional average of 44%.  

Key Stage 3 (Year 9 Data) - attainment of the Key Stage 3 Core Subject Indicator (CSI) at Level 5+ has increased from 74% of pupils in 2012 to 82% of pupils in 2015.  At Level 6, attainment of the CSI has increased from 33% of pupils in 2012 to 41% in 2015.  The 2015 Level 5+ data places Newport in line with the regional average.  The 2015 Level 6+ data places Newport above the regional average. 

Pupil performance in Science has increased from 87% of pupils achieving Level 5+ in 2012 to 91% of pupils achieving the level in 2015.  Pupil performance at Level 6+ has increased from 47% in 2012 to 52% in 2015.  Level 5+ performance data for 2015 is in line with regional average and exceeded the Newport target of 89%. 

Pupil performance in Mathematics has increased from 81% of pupils achieving Level 5+ in 2012 to 87% in 2015.  Level 6+ performance in Mathematics has increased from 54% in 2012 to 59% in 2015.  The 2015 Level 5+ data places Newport in line with regional average.  The 2015 Level 6+ data places Newport above the regional average.