School categorisation figures published today show a record number of schools in Swansea in the green category and none at all in the red.
The Welsh Government’s traffic light system is not a league table but aims to identify the appropriate level of support for each school according to need.
There are four colours: green recognises a highly effective, well run school with strong leadership; yellow signifies a school already doing well but knowing areas it can improve; amber means a school needing help to make improvements more quickly and red are schools in need of greatest improvement.
Of the 79 primary schools in Swansea 35 have been awarded green, which is up from 29 in 2016, 32 are yellow, 12 are amber which is two less than last year and none are red.
There are eight secondary schools categorised green, four yellow and two amber.
Swansea’s Pupil Referral Unit has moved from red to amber while Penybryn Special School is green and Ysgol Grug Glas is amber.
Swansea Council will be using the findings to help inform its work with schools and partners to target support and resources to secure improvement across all schools.
All schools will get some support even if they are categorised green.
Cllr Jen Raynor, Swansea Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, said: “This is the third successive year we have seen an overall improvement in schools across the city.
“We have prioritised education and our investment year on year in the future of our children and young people is paying off.
“These figures are also a credit to teachers and I would like to thank parents, carers and other family members for the support they give their children too.
“We are also fortunate in Swansea to have some excellent headteachers.
“There is some innovative and inspiring work taking place in many classrooms in Swansea as Estyn highlighted in it’s annual report just last week and this latest assessment will help us to build and expand on that.”
The data reviews how well a school is performing for all its learners, taking into consideration how effectively it is led and managed, the quality of teaching and learning, and the level of support and challenge it needs to do better.
The system aims to identify the schools that need the most help, support and guidance to improve. It also identifies those that are doing well but could be doing better and those that are highly effective and could help and support others to do better.
Cllr Raynor added: “Where schools need additional support we will provide it and we are ensuring that good practice is shared throughout all our schools for the benefit of all pupils in Swansea.”
Today’s results follow on from a recent report that shows Swansea Council is making good progress in improving education in the city.
The report found underperforming schools are being identified and supported more quickly to help them raise standards.
There is a more consistent approach to challenging all schools to make sure they are doing the very best for all their pupils.
The long-term trend for attendance at primary schools is positive and the consistency of leadership across all education services is also improving.
ERW, the regional school improvement consortium working with Welsh Government and six local authorities in Mid and West Wales, has carried out rigorous moderation and verification processes with the councils to ensure consistency across the region for the categorisation results.
ERW Managing Director, Betsan O’Connor, said: “The primary purpose of the system is to identify the appropriate level of support for each school according to need and to ensure that, in partnership with schools and local authorities, we are able to direct our support and resources most effectively to secure the improvements necessary in our school system.
“Since the system came into place, as a region we are pleased to see a change in culture, as increasingly the support is coming from other schools.”
Morriston Comprehensive School has improved year on year since categorisation was introduced and this year is in the yellow support category.
Leading this has been headteacher Martin Franklin who took up his post in May 2015, shortly after a £22 million investment in new school buildings had been completed.
He said: “It was clear that Morriston was a school with huge potential. At the outset my vision for the school was to build an outstanding school that could also become one of the best in Wales.
“This consistent message was developed with the support of the governors and shared with staff, children, the parents and wider community. It was also clear that the staff were equally determined to make Morriston a great school, and the improvements are testimony to their hard work and commitment.”
He said clear priorities were built around raising expectation and standards through setting all children and staff challenging targets, and regular and relentless monitoring and tracking of progress.
There was a sustained focus on improving attendance and ensuring consistently high quality teaching and learning in every lesson.
Mr Franklin added: “In January 2016 we had demonstrated sufficient capacity to improve to be moved from a red support category to an amber support category. This was very important for us as a school, and reflected the hard work put in by all our staff.
“Then in summer 2016 the school achieved our best ever GCSE results and showed the biggest improvement of any school in Wales.
“What was particularly pleasing is that the improvements were seen across all the indicators and with students of all abilities, meaning 98.8% of our children left with at least 5 A*-G grades, whilst over 23% of students achieved the top A*-A grades in mathematics and 17% achieved at least 5 A*-A grades.
“This improvement has demonstrated that the school has greater leadership capacity and strong improvement in teaching and learning. Whilst delighted with the progress we have made we appreciate that this is only the start of our journey in our strive to be an outstanding school.”
He said the support the school had received through the categorisation system had undoubtedly helped.
“The support through our challenge adviser has been very valuable and effective. She has been a huge source of support and encouragement throughout the year and has worked closely not only with the leadership team, but importantly worked hands on with our middle leaders and staff to help bring about this improvement,” he added.