National Association for Small Schools Secretary: Barbara Taylor ‘Quarrenden,’ Upper Red Cross Road, Goring RG8 9BD Tel: 01491 873548 Chairman: Bill Goodhand Tel: 01400 272623 Information Officer: Mervyn Benford Tel: 01295 780225 Small Schools in Wales – Reality versus Myth Ysgol cymharol fechan yw Ysgol Llanddeusant, sydd wedi ei lleoli yng nghanol Sir Fôn. Dyma le hardd iawn. Dathlodd yr Ysgol ei phenblwydd yn 160 mlwydd oed y llynedd. Dyma luniau o'r ysgol. Cliciwch ar y dewisiadau isod i ddarllen mwy am yr Ysgol. This small school was proposed for closure and, despite strong protests, the decision was made earlier this year to close it in July 2009. School closures became an election issue and the decision has been withdrawn for new consideration as part of a whole Authority review. Its last ESTYN report, reproduced inside, was very positive. It has been given a better chance than Moylegrove, another effective school much-loved by parents and its local community but closed by Pembrokeshire. Closure remains a substantial threat for small schools in Wales, with area-based provision an option. This document shows why such schools are worth far more than official opinion admits. 2 Small Schools in Wales – Reality versus Myth Mervyn Benford Information Officer National Association for Small Schools These are extracts from a selection of recent ESTYN inspection reports, chosen as examples of the wide-ranging excellence reported by inspectors from small schools in Wales. The extracts strongly focus on standards achieved, quality of teaching, leadership, behaviour and attitude and relationships with parents and the local community. Research consistently shows that educational outcomes still largely reflect the human quality of the experience. The schools are from across Wales but we have especially focused on Ceredigion and Powys, counties with many small and very small schools. Until 2008 Ceredigion was reluctant to close small schools but now surrenders to the rationalisation nonsense. Its earlier stance was justified. At 18+ it enjoyed consistent success in ‘A’ level examinations. This county has the most small and very small schools in the Principality and were anything amiss with early education it would show in those later results. Scottish Government evidence published in 2006 similarly showed that the smaller the school the better in terms both of pupils from impoverished and disadvantaged backgrounds as well as in overall enduring high levels of performance. Johnstone in the mid-70s found that pupils from remote highland and island communities did best at ‘Highers’, taken at 18+. The evidence of success from children educated in small communities, far from privilege, also clearly endures over time. Recent research in England adds more weight to the same truth. Powys has been at the forefront of rationalisation and commitment to area-based provision such as that emerging in the tenor and tone of the Rural Development Committee Report on education in rural areas. The extracts highlight aspects consistently believed beyond the capacity of small schools. Senior professionals delude public and politicians alike into believing that small schools face unavoidable and inevitable difficulties doing the job. Results speak for themselves, disowning such claims that are invariably little more than unsubstantiated assumption. In presenting this analysis we have inevitably been selective but not partial. We have concentrated on qualities observed consistently across the UK in inspection reports from small schools, comments typical of the majority. Of course there is variability, some schools better than others, some aspects better than others. Yet aspects cited are not necessarily exclusive to the individual school but usually found in one or other ways in the reports of the other schools identified. We concentrate on schools below 50, as these seem to be vulnerable to the area-based concept favoured by Reynolds and sustained so evidently in the RD report’s thinking. However, we are mindful that small schools for us and for OFSTED start at 100 and below, and from Wales and ESTYN at 90, and that even an area-based school might still be small within such definitions,. So we have included a sample of reports, of random quality, of schools of such larger sizes. We have never claimed that larger schools cannot succeed academically. The evidence affirms many do. We claim it is harder the larger the numbers get to sustain whole school vision and example and, most importantly, to engage parents in the ways research shows so important in primary education and especially for children from disadvantaged families and communities. We are affirming strongly the capacity of small schools to deliver what taxpayers expect, what parents expect and increasingly recognise and value in small schools and what is finally becoming apparent to politicians as a viable, tried and tested model of education through which to bring teachers and families on to the same wavelengths. That reduces the high and increasingly expensive levels of national educational failure through encouraging more enduring achievement. Sophisticated economic analysis shows that in this way small schools, despite their higher costs, return profit to the Exchequer long-term. Nor are their present costs more than a fraction of overall budgets despite the emotional screams about high unit costs. Teachers cost most and the percentage of teachers working in the smaller schools proposed for closure is very small, in England under 5%, no big pot of jam draining resources from the rest. In arguing to retain as fine example the effective, wholesome model of education represented by most small schools NASS argues for such provision in our towns and cities where the children also need such glowing reports. NASS has never claimed large schools cannot similarly achieve high academic outcomes. At least three large schools in Ceredigion had excellent reports from ESTYN. We include examples from Carmarthenshire. We simply show that small schools are as capable, in the face of the persistently negative views of those who say otherwise. 3 The Welsh Assembly’s new top education civil servant has said schools under 90 are not viable. He claims any school needs a minimum of six subject specialists. Why do ESTYN not report the evidence to justify that claim? David Hawker spoke of schools under 90 on roll, precisely the figure defined in Wales as ‘small’ where in England it is 100. It seems he chose 90 advisedly and, as it matches almost every surviving village school in Wales, there is clearly a real and serious threat to the future of rural education in the country if he sharpens his false beliefs into forms of major rationalisation. NASS is concerned to pre-empt any such ideas. Let the public be warned. At the time of the published slate of closures in Gwynedd we checked the most recent round of ESTYN reports in that county and it read similarly to these from Ceredigion. Gwynedd Council was thrown out in last May’s elections and size of school is fast rising up the political agenda across the UK. ESTYN has said little other than what NASS agrees anyway, namely that small schools are equal in quality to the rest but that is a major admission in itself as theoretically they are not supposed to be as good. But look at the consistently higher levels of teaching than nationally required and look at the almost 100% statements that small schools are value for money, good value for money or very good value for money. We do need some more sophisticated economic analysis than currently trotted out in Council closure programmes. For Ceredigion we have reached back to 2005/6 for examples as ESTYN’s report in 2006 will be coloured by such examples. For Powys we have confined our sample to reports published since 2006. Across the rest of Wales we have adopted a sampling process that we believe still remains typical of the majority and is not at all wilfully selective. Note: this document is created by essentially cut and paste extracts coordinated into honest summary. We reproduce ESTYN’s words without any amendment of tone or substance. Clearly for brevity we have to be selective but that has been done without neglect of the balance in the overall ESTYN judgements. Even with the highest quality schools we know that there is always room for movement, if only on the developmental “next steps” principle. Where judgements are graded we recognise the implication that any judgements less than outstanding indicate inspectors aware of potential for improvement. Some original ESTYN reports will not allow such direct copying but our summaries reflect the same categories we claim as central to school performance, namely standards achieved, quality of teaching and leadership, quality of methods, pupil personal development and relations with parents and community. This problem occurs randomly and affects reports of school of all sizes. In treating Ceredigion, Powys, Carmarthenshire and dipping into Ynys Mon, and with our knowledge of Gwynedd, we do not believe that analysis of other rural counties in Wales would reveal a significantly different or worrying picture. We offer this analysis as a bona fide contribution to an important debate running in Wales and wherein we feel there is considerable imbalance of evidence. Small schools have far more quality than is politically or professionally accredited to them. The perceived drawbacks are the more proclaimed, many of them barely substantiated, little more than tired assumptions. We have found only one case where inspectors omitted a value for money judgement for a school with 100 or less pupils. In most cases they are good value and it a few cases very good value for money. In that one case the report was so good we imagine it was a slip of the inspectorial tongue. Gwynedd At the time of the dramatic proposal to close a slate of between 20 and 30 small primary schools we collated evidence in precisely this way from ESTYN reports in recent years of the schools under threat. In view of the political nature of this we shall not use these schools. However, we affirm, and invite readers to check, that the overall calibre and character of those reports matched what we offer in this present analysis. 4 Ceredigion 1 Capel Seion 18 pupils The number of pupils on roll has been fairly constant in recent years. The school is of the view that its natural catchment area is neither prosperous nor economically disadvantaged. Eleven per cent of pupils are entitled to receive free school meals; this figure is lower than national and county averages. The school has received the Basic Skills Agency's Quality Mark accreditation for the second time. Welsh is the main medium of the life and work of the school and also the main language spoken in the homes of 50% of the pupils. The school has been designated a category 'A' school by the UA, which means that Welsh is the main medium of teaching, but with the aim of ensuring that pupils are fluent in both Welsh and English by the time they transfer to the secondary school. The school satisfies the Welsh Assembly Government's (WAG) targets for 2010, for the quality of teaching assessed by Estyn to be Grade 3 or better in 98% of classes. The figures are also higher than the national figures published in the Chief Inspectors latest Annual Report for 2006-07, which states that standards are Grade 1 or Grade 2 overall in 80% of the lessons inspected. These figures are also higher than the 10% judged to be a Grade 1. This is a school that succeeds in creating a caring and supporting environment for its pupils that effectively promotes their learning and their development. Since the last inspection, the school has maintained the very good standards and improved standards further in many of the subjects inspected. In the lessons inspected, pupils' standards of achievement are as follows: Grade 1 22% Grade 2 78% Grade 3 0% Grade 4 0% Grade 5 0% The school satisfies the Welsh Assembly Government's (WAG) targets for 2010, for the quality of teaching assessed by Estyn to be Grade 3 or better in 98% of classes. The figures are also higher than the national figures published in the Chief Inspectors latest Annual Report for 2006-07, which states that standards are Grade 1 or Grade 2 overall in 80% of the lessons inspected. These figures are also higher than the 10% judged to be a Grade 1. Subject Key Stage 1 Key Stage 2 English N/a Grade 1 Mathematics Grade 2 Grade 1 Information technology Grade 2 Grade 1 Design technology Grade 2 Grade 2 Music Grade 2 Grade 2 Physical education Grade 2 Grade 2 This school has a very strong Welsh ethos. The planning and provision to promote pupils' bilingual skills is an outstanding feature. The school also places appropriate emphasis on developing pupils' understanding of Welsh culture and the heritage of Wales. Partnerships with parents are very good. Parents are very supportive of the school and express high levels of satisfaction with the education their children receive. They contribute generously towards improving the supply of resources at the school. Partnerships with the community and with other schools and agencies are also good. The school is well lead from day-to-day by an experienced headteacher. The staff, governors and parents are aware of her strong values and these are well reflected in the work of the school. The headteacher and governing body regularly review and monitor spending, enabling the school to provide good value for money. 5 2 Capel Dewi Primary School 31 pupils The school is situated in a rural area near the town of Llandysul. It serves the small village of Capel Dewi in Ceredigion and many small neighbouring villages such as Llanfihangel-ar-Arth and Pencader. This is a good school that is led by an enthusiastic and conscientious headteacher who is committed to raising standards and improving the provision. In a short space of time, he has succeeded in developing and co-ordinating the team and encouraging individuals to contribute to a common purpose. Staff and governors have high expectations with respect to ethos, behaviour and standards and this is reflected in every aspect of the school’s work. Pupils have an outstanding understanding of what they are doing in different lessons and what they need to do in order to improve their work. By key stage 2, they show a very good awareness of their individual targets and of their progress in trying to attain these targets. In key stage 1 and key stage 2, pupils’ standards and progress in the key skills of speaking and listening in Welsh across the curriculum are good. Although there are a significant number of key stage 1 pupils who are immature in their fluency in reading and writing, by key stage 2, they make broad and appropriate use of their Welsh reading and writing skills in every curricular area. Table of grades awarded Key question 1 How well do learners achieve? Grade 2 2 How effective are teaching, training and assessment? 2 3 How well do the learning experiences meet the needs and interests of learners and the wider community? 1 4 How well are learners cared for, guided and supported? 1 5 How effective are leadership and strategic management? 2 6 How well do leaders and managers evaluate and improve quality and standards? 1 7 How efficient are leaders and managers in using resources? 1 In the lessons observed, the quality of teaching was judged as follows: Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 8% 84% 8% 0% 0% The school provides a balanced and broad curriculum that is effectively enriched by a variety of activities including visits relative to their studies. The partnerships with parents, the community and other schools enrich the learning experiences substantially for pupils and are an outstanding feature of the school’s provision. The school offers very good value for money. 6 3 Coedybryn Primary School 34 children This is a good school with many outstanding features which include stimulating teaching, curricular provision which is strikingly relevant to the children of the area and the care and support each pupil has whatever his/her background and ability. Progress since the last inspection has been outstanding. In three of the key questions, the inspection team awarded a grade which was higher than the school’s judgement in its self-evaluation report. Table of grades awarded: Key Question Inspection grade 1 How well do learners achieve? Grade 2 2 How effective are teaching, training and assessment? Grade 1 3 How well do the learning experiences meet the needs and interests of learners and the wider community? Grade 1 4 How well are learners cared for, guided and supported? Grade 1 5 How effective are leadership and strategic management? Grade 1 6 How well do leaders and managers evaluate and improve quality and standards? Grade 2 7 How efficient are leaders and managers in using resources? Grade 2 The quality of teaching in the lessons observed during the inspection was judged to be as follows: Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 52% 48% - - - These figures are much higher than the national picture in Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector’s report for 2005-6, where it is indicated that the quality of teaching in 62 per cent of lessons in primary schools is Grade 2, and 17 per cent a Grade 1. Teachers and support staff have established an outstanding working relationship with pupils. They have high expectations of appropriate behaviour and the constant praise which is given to pupils’ efforts and work has a positive effect on their progress. Pupils are keen to say that they are very happy at the school. Pupils’ behaviour is very effectively monitored. The school is a welcoming community where pupils agree class and school rules. Every opportunity is given to pupils with additional learning needs to develop their potential, and boys and girls are treated equally without stereotyping. The school makes outstanding provision for pupils’ welfare, and parents praise the exceptional care taken of their children. The school has very effective procedures for the early identification of pupils with SEN. Provision for additional learning needs is outstanding. The close links between the school and these pupils’ parents promotes progress effectively Relationships with other schools are outstanding, with good relationships with the secondary schools to which the pupils transfer. Links with parents and the community are also outstanding as the school is an integral part of its local area. The headteacher has a clear vision and this ensures that the school benefits from all the assistance available from agencies and by the community in order to raise standards and improve the quality of provision. Leadership ensures that the school pays attention to current priorities, in order to move the provision forward; this is an outstanding feature. The school provides very good value for money as it produces confident pupils with good academic skills and outstanding personal skills to enable them to move on to the next stage of their education successfully. 7 4 Ysgol Ciliau Parc 36 pupils. This is a caring community where each child, of whatever age, gender, ability and needs has equal opportunities. Teachers work effectively as a team and they know their school and pupils well. The education provided at this school is of a high standard. The inspection team agreed with the school’s judgement in the self-evaluation document in five of the key questions; in two questions the inspectors awarded a higher grade as the school had underestimated its effectiveness. Table of grades awarded Key question Inspection grade 1 How well do learners achieve? 2 2 How effective are teaching, training and assessment? 2 3 How well do the learning experiences meet the needs and interests of learners and the wider community? 2 4 How well are learners cared for, guided and supported? 1 5 How effective are leadership and strategic management? 2 6 How well do leaders and managers evaluate and improve quality and standards? 2 7 How efficient are leaders and managers in using resources? 2 In lessons observed, the quality of teaching was judged as follows: Grade 1 56% Grade 2 44% Grade 3 - Grade 4 - Grade 5 - The quality of teaching is a strength, and a key element in the progress pupils make. In all lessons, it is at an appropriate level, with a relevant focus, clear aims and objectives and good planning. Effective use is made of resources, and the exceptionally good relationship between teachers and pupils fosters effective learning. The quality of teaching for pupils with SEN is consistently good. The withdrawal support for individuals and groups is consistently effective. Teaching for under-fives and KS1 is consistently good, and teaching in KS2 is good with outstanding features in the majority of lessons seen. Partnership with parents is good. A number offer their expertise to help the school and the school’s Parents’ Association is hard-working and contribute much financially. The home/school agreement is a means of furthering good understanding between parents and the school regarding expectations. The school shares information about IEPs well with parents of pupils with SEN. The school plays a full part in the community and it has good links with the resources of the local agricultural industry. The school has clear aims and objectives; a sense of purpose and team work is at the core of the school’s success, and is an outstanding feature. The head is enthusiastic and gives clear leadership to the life of the school. Lines of communication are clear. The school is pro-active in introducing new initiatives which promote effective learning and teaching. The GB is very supportive of the school and fulfils its statutory requirements. Teachers have developed their role as curriculum leaders by following a learning and teaching monitoring programme. However, the process is not yet fully developed. The staff development programme is appropriate to teachers’ and pupils’ individual needs. Effective systems have been established for performance management and the procedures for giving teachers planning and assessment time have been appropriately established. Financial management is stringent and provides very good value for money 8 5 Craig yr Wylfa Primary 70 pupils (outside the scope of this survey but a larger small school example.) The school was built approximately forty years ago on a pleasant site above the coastal village of Borth about eight miles to the north of Aberystwyth. It serves the village and the surrounding rural area. In the subjects inspected, standards of achievement in lessons were judged as follows: Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 6% 82% 12% 0% 0% The quality of teaching was judged as follows: Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 5% 84% 11% 0% 0% Lessons are prepared thoroughly and the prepared activities are well matched to the age and ability of individual pupils. Teachers have good subject knowledge and are familiar with recent curricular developments. Appropriate use is made of a good range of teaching strategies including whole class teaching, and effective use is made of different organisations such as group work and pair work to promote learning. A good range of resources such as the interactive white board and digital cameras is used effectively to attract pupils’ interest and ensure that they are active in their learning. Relationships between teachers and pupils are consistently good in every class and contribute substantially to creating a purposeful working environment. Effective use is made of praise and commendation and pupils are encouraged to do their best. Lessons are planned thoroughly and the prepared activities are well matched to the age and ability of individual pupils Pupils’ bilingual competence is promoted successfully. The Cwricwlwm Cymreig is a strong feature in the entire life and work of the school. There are wide ranging opportunities to raise pupils’ awareness of their heritage and culture at a local and wider level. There are good links with parents. This was confirmed in the positive responses to the questionnaire and in the preinspection meeting with parents. Communication with the home is effective and parents receive detailed and timely information about the school’s programme of work. There is an active Home/School Agreement and the prospectus and the governors’ annual report to parents contain all the required information. Parents make a key contribution to the life of the school. They have been very active in developing the school’s environment and a good number of them offer support in the classes. The school works closely with the local high school. From an early age, pupils make good progress in their ability to develop as independent learners. They make decisions on how to organise their work and are ready to attempt problem solving without an over-reliance on adults. Pupils of all ages have strong sense of belonging to the school community and are very willing to undertake additional responsibilities. They make a significant contribution to the annual village carnival. Their awareness of the world of work is underdeveloped. Pupils make good progress in their spiritual and moral development. The provision for promoting education for sustainable development is good. The school has won the Eco-schools silver award and there are suitable arrangements for recycling waste and saving energy and resources. There is comprehensive provision for developing pupils’ understanding of global citizenship. Valuable links have been established with pupils in other European countries and the school is very active in its campaign to promote fair trade. The school provides a firm foundation for life long learning by ensuring that pupils nurture skills such as bilingualism, independence and problem solving that will make them more responsible for their own learning as they grow up. The school provides best value for money. 9 6 Ysgol Gymunedol Pontrhydfendigaid is developing well. 50 pupils: Economically disadvantaged area The inspection team adjudged the school’s work to be as follows: Key question Inspection grade 1 How well do learners achieve? 2 2 How effective are teaching, training and assessment? 2 3 How well do the leadership experiences meet the needs and interests of learners and the wider community? 2 4 How well are learners cared for, guided and supported? 1 5 How effective are leadership and strategic management? 1 6 How well do learners and managers evaluate and improve quality and standards? 2 7 How efficient are leaders and managers in using resources? 1 The pupils’ bilingual abilities are developing well and in Key Stage 2 they come to be able to communicate freely in Welsh and English. They respond enthusiastically in lessons and have a very positive attitude towards their tasks. Their standards of behaviour are outstanding; they behave very responsibly, respect others and display a high degree of self-discipline. In the lessons observed, the quality of teaching was adjudged to be as follows: Grade 1 25% Grade 2 68% Grade 3 7% Grade 4 -- Grade 5 -- The work of preparing and presenting lessons is undertaken thoroughly and is of a consistently high standard across the school. Teachers use a wide range of teaching strategies and an appropriate range of suitable resources in order to support and engage pupils. The reports to parents, including the reports on the under-fives, conform to requirements. The observations outline the pupils’ achievements and skills in each subject and offer recommendations on the steps required to make further progress. The quality of the partnership between the school and parents is outstanding and this was reiterated in the parents’ response in the pre-inspection meetings and questionnaire. The school is an integral part of the local community and it plays a key role in a large number of activities in the area. The attention given to the Cwricwlwm Cymreig is an outstanding feature of the provision. Equal access is provided to a particularly broad and balanced curriculum. The provision is socially inclusive and secures equality of access and opportunity for all. Pupils’ awareness of global citizenship is promoted with great success through various curricular experiences and the links established with a number of foreign countries. A strong emphasis is placed on identifying pupils’ additional needs at an early stage. They receive very good support. The positive and enthusiastic leadership of the headteacher co-ordinates the efforts of staff and governors to very good effect, and provides a clear sense of direction to the work of the school. Teamwork is an evident feature. Much has been achieved in a short time to stabilise the school and to raise standards. These are outstanding features . The school provides value for money. 10 7 Ysgol Y Dderi 114 pupils (outside the small school 90 pupil definition but an example of a larger school.) This is a good school with outstanding features, which include the innovative leadership of the headteacher, the rich curriculum and the stimulating learning experiences provided, the motivating learning environment, the success in promoting inclusion and equal opportunities, and the excellent collaboration amongst all the staff. The self-evaluation report is a comprehensive document that clearly identifies strengths and areas in need of improvement. The inspection team agreed with the school's judgement in six of the seven key questions. A higher grade has been awarded to key question 5, where outstanding features were identified in the quality of the school's leadership and management. The inspection team judged the school’s work as grade 2 in key question 1 and grade 1 in the other six questions. Pupils' standards of bilingual proficiency show good progress. By the end of key stage 2, the pupils almost without exception are proficient in both English and Welsh. Pupils make outstanding progress in their personal and social skills. They are full of motivation and work productively in lessons concentrating well on their tasks over extended periods. They make good progress towards attaining their potential. They make good progress in their ability to work independently and to take responsibility for their own work. In the Foundation Phase, the younger children for example, show extremely good skills as they work together effectively in building, art and role-play activities. There is good progress in pupils' research and problem-solving skills. They are alert and confident to ask questions and to express an opinion. These features were evident, for example, in key stage 2 pupils' contributions in their science and art lessons. Pupils across the school show good development in their creative skills in music and physical education. Their skills in art are of a very high standard. Pupils' spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good with outstanding features. They succeed well in developing their spiritual awareness through, for example, contributing to sessions of collective worship. They are aware of the cultural traditions of their locality and respect other cultural and social traditions. They have a very good awareness of equal opportunities issues. The behaviour of pupils of all ages is very good. Pupils are aware of the school's rules and expectations and respect them Pupils are aware of their personal targets for their further development. At an appropriate level, pupils can discuss well the particular strengths and weaknesses in their work. They are beginning to develop self-assessment skills in order to identify what they need to do next to improve the quality of their work. Appropriately, this is one of the school's main targets for further attention. Pupils have a very good knowledge of community life in their area and contribute to many local occasions. Through visits to local businesses and the contributions of visitors who come to the school, they have a good awareness of the world of work in their area. An outstanding feature of the provision is the school's success in promoting equal opportunities, addressing social deprivation and challenging stereotyping. In the lessons observed, the quality of teaching is as follows: Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 36% 64% 0% 0% 0% Partnerships with parents are excellent. Parents are very supportive of the school and express high levels of satisfaction. They contribute generously towards improving school resources. Partnerships with the local community and other schools and agencies are also very good. Outstanding features help promote education in global citizenship, fully embedded in the life and work of the school. Valuable educational and social links exist with many other countries. The headteacher provides sound and skilful leadership that steers school improvement extremely effectively. She has a clear vision for implementing the school's aims and objectives and is very well supported by the deputy and the staff. There are outstanding features in the management of the school's resources. The school's accommodation provides outstanding learning facilities for pupils The headteacher and governing body review and monitor expenditure regularly, enabling the school to provide good value for money. 11 8 Ysgol Gynradd Dihewyd 26 pupils Half the pupils come from homes where Welsh is spoken as a first language. Of the seven key Standards questions four were graded 1 and the rest given 2. Personal, social and learning skills are outstanding. Their care of each other is impressive. Standards achieved showed 92% in grades 1 or 2, higher than national expectations with no obvious differences between girls and boys. Behaviour across the school is exemplary, making a major contribution to a warm and homely atmosphere. Quality of teaching is above national expectations in both required categories with 39% graded 1, 50% 2 and the rest 3 The quality of the relationships in class is exemplary. The teachers are high quality role models and know their pupils backgrounds well. They have a sound knowledge of the subjects they teach and an understanding of recent initiatives. The school succeeds in creating an excellent ethos in which pupils feel they are genuinely valued. Promotion of values such as self-respect and respect for others is outstanding and teachers and support staff provide a safe and secure environment. They take great pride in their community Careful planning and very high expectations secure equal opportunities for all, and this is one of the school’s strengths. Teaching in most lessons had many outstanding features. The school’s partnership with parents and the community is outstanding Parents and friends of the school have raised very worthy sums of money. It is very unusual for inspectors to see such levels of support. A considerable number were very active during the re-modelling of the school. This is a school truly at the heart of its community The quality of leadership at the school is outstanding. It is an institution to which the Local Authority together with other agencies, turns to trial and implement new initiatives and has established a good reputation for its work and is open to change. The school provides good value for money. 12 Powys We look next at the other side of Wales, a county also with many small and very small schools. The ESTYN pattern and inspection formula remain standard and so we reproduce the tables for the seven key questions, standards of achievement and quality of teaching more often as summaries since the Ceredigion pages show the original format. Since Estyn reported very positively on the quality of education provided in Welsh small schools in its 2006 report we concentrate on reports published since. Note: The report on Berriew School notes changing migration patterns with families moving in from nearby towns and with falling birth-rate of recent decades and falling new housing rates now in reverse. The school has 104 pupils so is not a small school. However, we note this further confirmation that surplus space is indeed becoming less of an issue as DEFRA and the Commission for Rural Communities report and as evidence of new housing in rural villages from Cumbria to Cornwall shows. 1 Bronllys 30 pupils This small school report is affected by copy-and-paste difficulties. We summarise. Judged satisfactory by inspectors and improving after recent changes and under an acting Headteacher; no unsatisfactory teaching; no outstanding features. The school has the Basic Skills Quality mark. General comments reflect the difference between satisfactory and higher grades but the care and well-being of the pupils is reported as good. Pupils demonstrate high levels of good behaviour. Pupils with SEN make good overall progress but more should be done for able pupils. High expectations now permeate the school and a culture of building success is now becoming established. The provision to broaden and enrich pupils’ learning experiences is good. Effective partnerships with parents, other providers and the community enrich learning well. The quality of care, support and guidance, and for provision of equal opportunities is good. The acting Headteacher has made a significant impact on the work of the school in little more than two terms. The current approach to managing and improving the expertise of staff is good and is already having a positive impact. The Governing Body works closely with the acting headteacher and has made good progress to ensure that it meets statutory responsibilities. The school is moving to a position where it can give value for money. Reviewed alphabetically, two small schools occur, one very small, 28 pupils, the other with 68, in which there are significant levels of background pupil disadvantage, for example rural poverty, and where children arrive in school below expected levels of attainment. Both schools are praised but the 28-pupil school the more so. 2 Abercraf CPS 2007 28 Pupils On entry, most children have below average levels of basic skills. The school reports that 30% of pupils are considered to be eligible for free school meals, which is well above the all-Wales average and the UA average for primary schools. The school considers that in general, pupils are from homes, which are socially and economically disadvantaged. About 30% of pupils are considered to have some degree of special educational needs (SEN). Two pupils have statements of SEN for a range of reasons. These are very high figures. No pupil was excluded in the last school year. Abercraf Community Primary School is a successful school where pupils achieve well. It is well led and has made steady progress since the last inspection in raising standards and in addressing the key issues of that inspection. The inspection team agrees with nearly all of the judgements made by the school about the standards pupils achieve and about other areas of its work. Where the inspection team disagrees, the school overestimated how well it provides learning experiences, which meet the needs and interests of learners and the wider community The Seven key questions below result in Grade 2 for each. How well do learners achieve? How effective are teaching, training and assessment? How well are learners cared for, guided and supported? How effective are leadership and strategic management? How well do the learning experiences meet the needs and interests of learners and the wider community? How well do leaders and managers evaluate and improve quality and standards? How efficient are leaders and managers in using resources? 13 Starting from a below average base, in the end of KS1 national assessments for seven year olds in 2006 all pupils achieved well and reached or exceeded the expected level (Level 2) in English, mathematics and science. These results were well above the UA and national averages. In these assessments, girls performed slightly better than boys. When these results are compared to schools in the UA with a broadly similar proportion of pupils entitled to free school meals, these results are very high. Since 2002, the targets agreed with the UA have been met and often exceeded. In KS2 national assessments for eleven year olds in 2006, results were close to the UA and above national averages in English and mathematics and very high in science, where all pupils achieved at least the expected standard (Level 4). However, few pupils achieved the higher level (Level 5) in all three subjects. In these assessments, girls achieved better in English and mathematics and about the same as boys in science. When these results are combined, they are also above the national average and just above the UA average. When compared to schools considered to have a broadly similar proportion of pupils entitled to free school meals, these results were well above those similar schools. Since 2002, results have been consistently above the UA and all-Wales averages. In this period, the targets agreed with the UA have been met and often exceeded. Care should be taken when considering these results because of the very small number of pupils who sat these assessments. Many pupils reach at least the standard it would be reasonable to expect of them when they began school in the reception class. Pupils settle down quickly in lessons and show interest and application in their work. They maintain concentration well and work happily together. Pupils are aware of the school rules and what is expected of them. They understand and respect diversity and the importance of equal opportunities. Pupils' attendance is good and unauthorised absence rare. Pupils arrive punctually. The quality of teaching and learning: Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 21% 68% 11% 0% 0% Arrangements for assessment, recording and reporting are good with no important shortcomings. Assessments are rigorous, accurate and consistent. They meet statutory requirements in full including those for pupils with SEN. There are well-organised and suitable systems to ensure pupils' progress in English, mathematics and science. Good use is made of the results from national assessments in order to analyse standards and to set targets. The curriculum is suitably broad, well balanced and meets statutory requirements. Pupils' personal development including their spiritual, moral, social and cultural development has good features outweighing shortcomings. There are very effective partnerships with parents and the local community. Parents have very positive views of the school. The school successfully promotes an awareness of other cultures and racial differences. It celebrates diversity enthusiastically. The partnership with industry has some strengths and also some shortcomings. There are some good links with local business. However, entrepreneurial skills are underdeveloped. Pupils, including those with SEN, receive good quality care, guidance and support. The leadership of the school has some good features. The acting headteacher, who carries a number of responsibilities, leads the school well. There is a clear sense of direction and purpose to the day-to-day life of the school. All staff work together constructively to provide a good education for all pupils. Governors are very committed to the school. They work closely with the headteacher to plan the way forward. Some governors are particularly well informed and make very helpful contributions to decision making. The school makes effective use of its resources. The purchase of resources is well matched to the priorities identified in the SDP, and flow naturally from the self-evaluation system which identifies areas for development. Day-to-day administration is efficient and effective. Caretaking, administrative and other support staff play a full part in the life of the school. Since the last inspection in December 2000, the school has made good progress. The key issues of that inspection have been well addressed. Bearing in mind the standards pupils achieve and the good quality of education provided, the school gives good value for money. 14 3 Beguildy 68 pupils This is the second instance of significant background pupil disadvantage. Beguildy is a good school, which provides well for its pupils. It has made good progress since the last inspection in addressing the key issues of that inspection. It is well led. The school holds the Basic Skills Quality Mark, the EcoSchools Silver and Bronze awards and the Green Flag status. Pupils come from a range of backgrounds, including a large proportion of pupils who come from socially and economically disadvantaged rural backgrounds. The school is in receipt of a 'Raise' grant, intended to improve the attainment of pupils in schools where there is a high degree of economic disadvantage. On entry, most children have below average levels of basic skills. The school reports that 21% of pupils are entitled to free school meals which is well above the UA average and above the all-Wales average for primary schools. About 50% of pupils have some degree of special educational needs (SEN). Three pupils have statements of SEN for a range of reasons. Pupils' personal skills are Grade 1. Pupils show very high levels of respect and good manners to each other and to adults. They work together very willingly and constructively. They show considerable levels of concern for each other. The inspection team agrees with all of the judgements made by the school about the standards pupils achieve and about all other areas of its work. The seven key questions all result in Grade 2. Many children begin school with below the UA average levels of skills for children of this age. They make good progress and are ready by the end of the reception year to begin the next stage of their education. Overall, pupils' standards of achievement in the subjects and areas of learning inspected are 100% Grade 1 (17%) and Grade 2 (83%) In the previous three years, the performance of the school in the end of KS1 assessments has varied. This is a direct result of the small number of pupils who are assessed annually, Pupils are very well motivated. They enjoy learning and work hard. Throughout the school, pupils are very well behaved. There have been no exclusions in the school in the year prior to the inspection. Attendance for the three terms leading up to the inspection was just below the expected target. Pupils across the school have a good understanding of equal opportunities Grades for teaching: Grade 1 32%: Grade 2 68%: Grade 3 0%: Grade 4 0%: Grade 5 0%: In the lessons seen, the percentage of Grade 1 and Grade 2 lessons compared well with the national picture reported by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector (HMCI) in her Annual Report 2005/2006. Nationally the quality of teaching is at least good in 79% with 17% having outstanding features. Teachers know pupils individually and ensure that work is appropriately challenging. The school provides a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum The school's links with parents, other schools and the local and wider community are outstanding features. Y Cwricwlwm Cymreig is very successfully promoted across the curriculum. Very good opportunities are provided for pupils to learn about the culture, economy, environment and history of Wales. Pupils' bilingual skills are developed very successfully through very well planned opportunities across the curriculum and in extra-curricular activities. Across the school in KS1 and KS2 in the best lessons, good features include:• very high expectations of pupils; • very careful planning which makes the objectives very clear; • very effective questioning which encourages pupils to respond in extended sentences; • very good subject knowledge; • well taken opportunities to promote effectively pupils' bilingual skills; and • the provision of a calm and purposeful atmosphere where pupils feel that their contributions are valued. A particularly strong feature is the outstanding personal support and guidance given to pupils The headteacher provides a very purposeful and energetic lead. There is a very positive atmosphere where teachers work supportively and constructively together. The school's ethos is positive and reflects the school's Christian traditions. All staff share the headteacher's objectives to help pupils achieve well and to give pupils very positive individual support. Links with the local community and with the secondary school are strong. However, the school is in the early stages of preparing for the introduction of the Foundation Phase. It has yet to take the necessary steps to ensure the successful implementation of this initiative in September 2008. The governing body is very committed to the school and is well informed. It meets all its statutory requirements in full. The process of self-evaluation is strong and is firmly based on first hand evidence The school's self-evaluation is accurate. Since the last inspection in March 2001, the school has made good progress. The key issues have been well addressed. Bearing in mind the standards of achievement of many of the pupils by the age of eleven, together with the overall quality of education provided, the school gives good value for money. 15 4 Ffynnon Gynydd Church in Wales Primary School 27 pupils This is a good school, well led and at the heart of the community it serves. The local area is neither prosperous nor economically disadvantaged. Pupils have a full range of ability. When they start in the reception class, children's skills and experiences are generally about in line with those expected for their age. The inspection team agrees with all of the judgements in the seven key questions made by the school about the standards pupils achieve and its other work. Overall standards achieved in the subjects and areas of learning inspected are as follows: Grade 1 0%: Grade 2 94%: Grade 3 6%: Grade 4 0%: Grade 5 )% These figures are well above those set out as a target in the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) 'Vision into Action' document for primary schools and above the national picture reported by HMCI in the Annual Report 2006/2007.The overall quality of education provided for children under five is appropriate. 100% of teaching was good. Pupils with SEN and those with additional learning needs, including being gifted or talented, make good progress as a result of good help and provision. There are thorough arrangements to assess, record and report on pupils' progress which meet legal requirements. Across the school the good features include: • detailed explanations of what is expected of pupils • very constructive relationships between all adults and their pupils • good subject knowledge and infectious enthusiasm • vivid use of language to make the topic come alive • well organised resources readily to hand • clear explanations of links between lessons in different subjects • well taken opportunities to develop pupils' bilingual skills • systematic reviews of what has been taught in the lessons • careful planning to match work to the different ages, needs and range of pupils' abilities in classes • very positive encouragement for pupils to reach the teachers’ high expectations which are held for them • well developed questioning skills which encourage pupils to think things out for themselves The curriculum is easily accessible to all pupils and meets the legal requirements of the National Curriculum (NC). It is generally well planned. However, the planning for the teaching of the key skills does not give sufficient guidance on how teachers should plan in these areas to ensure that pupils develop these skills systematically and build successfully on what they already know and can do. The curriculum is significantly enhanced by a wide range of out of school activities, visits and visitors. Homework provides appropriate and relevant additional learning opportunities for pupils. Parents have good access to teachers to discuss their children's progress and are well informed about their children's progress. Annual reports are sufficiently detailed. There is a strong and effective partnership with parents. Arrangements for pupils to understand the world of work, sustainable development and conservation are good. The school’s partnership with the local community is outstanding. Pupils are successfully encouraged to see themselves as citizens of the wider world. A sense of pride in being Welsh is fostered successfully the school is successfully laying the foundations for lifelong learning and community regeneration The school has good arrangements to promote pupils' personal development. Detailed arrangements successfully support pupils' well being. They have a good understanding of the importance of exercise and a healthy diet. The school promotes equal opportunities well. The personal support and guidance for pupils is good. The provision for spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good. Daily acts of worship successfully encourage pupils to reflect, show consideration for others, appreciate cultural and religious differences and the richness of their own cultural traditions. There are good opportunities for pupils to learn how to take on responsibility, to be helpful members of their community and to look after their environment. Pupils are well cared for, guided and supported and feel safe, secure and respected. Arrangements for pupils to understand the world of work and to promote pupils' understanding of sustainable development and conservation are good. The school council understands the democratic process and is active and conscientious. Support for pupils with SEN and those identified as having other additional learning needs is good and is well managed. Pupils are successfully encouraged to see themselves as citizens of the wider world. The acting headteacher successfully provides a purposeful and positive lead and works hard. Staff relationships are constructive. All share a strong commitment to work together. The school has a very warm family ethos. All staff have high expectations of themselves and of their pupils. The roles of the three co-ordinators are well developed. In the context of a very small school co-ordinators have a clear understanding of the needs of their areas of responsibility and have taken appropriate action to identify shortcomings, for example in English and mathematics. Arrangements to provide teachers with time during the taught week to plan, prepare and assess are well organised and enrich the curriculum further. The governing body is well led and very committed to the school. The school gives value for money. 16 5 Forden CiW Primary School 81 pupils (Outside the scope of this survey but an example from the 60-100 group.) The school provides a sound education for its pupils. It has a number of distinctive features, particularly its consistent approach to learning and teaching based on independence and self-responsibility, its extra-curricular provision, its focus on healthy and sustainable living, its links with the community and its use of staff. From a low baseline on entry pupils generally make good progress through the school, regardless of their social, ethnic or linguistic background. Pupils with SEN make steady progress through the school and achieve standards comparable with their abilities While these are very commendable strengths, there are areas for improvement, particularly in relation to the provision’s impact on standards. The grades for the seven key areas are: 3,2,2,1,2,3,2. Overall, pupils’ standards of achievement in the subjects inspected were judged as follows: Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 8% 61% 23% 8% 0% These figures are slightly above the Welsh Assembly Government’s 2007 targets although they are a little below those of the last inspection as well as those published in Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector’s latest Annual Report for 2005-6, where overall standards in primary schools in Wales are reported to be Grade 2 in 65% of lessons and Grade 1 in 12%. NC assessment results for the core subjects in KS1 in 2007 were better overall than the previous three years with more pupils attaining level 3. Results were also above the national and Powys averages in mathematics and science and girls did better in English. The core subject indicator (CSI) was 84.6% compared to 80.6% for 2006 nationally. NC assessment results for the core subjects in KS2 in 2007 were also better overall than the previous three years; more pupils attained level 5 in all three subjects than in 2005 and 2006 and in mathematics than in 2004. Results were also above the national and Powys averages, especially in science, although girls were slightly below in mathematics and boys were well below in English. The CSI was 75% compared to 74.2% for 2006 nationally. Pupils have well developed personal, social and learning skills and the school’s specific approach to learning and teaching is a particular feature. Pupils very much enjoy learning and show interest in their work. On occasions, however, outcomes are not always recorded with the result that the knowledge and skills acquired do not become fully embedded in the learning. The school provides a welcoming, secure and caring environment. Pupils state that they are happy and feel safe and that they are well supported by all adults in the school. Relationships between pupils are very good and older ones help those younger than themselves. The large majority are self-reliant and confident individuals. Pupils are generally well behaved throughout the school day, although at times a few become somewhat restless in lessons. When asked, both parents and pupils report that bullying is not a problem in the school. Pupils have an appropriate understanding of equal opportunities issues, although their experience of other cultures is limited. Attendance, at just below 95% for 2005-6, is above the national average and punctuality is good. The quality of teaching was judged as follows: Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 5% 90% 5% 0% 0% Assessment, recording and reporting meet statutory requirements. Pupils’ progress is carefully tracked and challenging targets are set in the core subjects. Records of achievement provide leavers with a comprehensive and outstanding record of their time at the school. Reports to parents are comprehensive, informative and of a high standard. The curriculum is appropriately broad and relevant and generally well balanced. Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good overall. They benefit from a range of extra-curricular activities and they are involved in a variety of sustainable development and global citizenship studies; these are strengths of the school. The school has a very effective relationship with parents and carers, who are very supportive of the school, regularly consulted and generally kept well informed. They are encouraged to assist in the school. There is a vibrant Friends Association. The school is very much a focal point of the community. It has very close and effective links with local organisations and it participates in various events. Links with industry, however, are relatively limited. The headteacher provides sound team leadership. He has a clear sense of direction and a visible presence around the school. He teaches all four classes each week for various subjects. Staff work together effectively. Appropriate planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time and performance management arrangements meet statutory requirements. The school spends its limited resources wisely on identified priorities and provides good value for money. 17 6 Franksbridge 46 pupils This is a good school with no important shortcomings. During their time at the school pupils make good progress and generally achieve good standards in their work. The inspection team’s findings match the school’s judgements in its self evaluation report in all seven key questions, accorded grades of 2. Standards of achievement in the lessons observed are above the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) all-Wales targets, with 82% grade 2 and the rest grade 3. All pupils make good progress as they move through KS1 and KS2. Results over the last few years indicate that overall pupils’ achievement and trends in performance are good in both key stages. Overall pupils make good progress in acquiring new knowledge, understanding and skills. The development of pupils’ personal, social and learning skills is good. Behaviour is good; the older pupils act as good role models and an ethos of self-discipline is developing. This contributes well to the standards being achieved. Pupils have a good attitude to learning and show interest in their work. Pupils’ ability to work with increasing independence is a feature of the school; they show good levels of involvement, interest and motivation. Attendance for the three terms prior to the inspection was 95 per cent which is similar to the national and LEA averages. Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good overall. They are aware of the need for mutual respect and are beginning to become more aware of the cultures faiths and traditions of others. Pupils participate in, contribute to and are developing a good understanding of community life. Their awareness of the world of work and the workplace, although good with some shortcomings, is improving. The quality of teaching was judged to be 77% grade 2 and the rest grade 3. Provision for pupils with special educational needs is good, their needs are diagnosed at an early stage and they are well supported. There is effective liaison with relevant agencies and pupils make good progress. Teachers demonstrate a secure knowledge of the subjects they teach and use their specialist knowledge and the resources available to enhance the quality of lessons. Pupils in both key stages are presented with a wide range of well-differentiated activities and interesting learning experiences that within the mixed age groups meet the needs of the individual pupils, including those with additional learning needs. The school meets the statutory requirements for assessment and reporting. The school successfully provides a broad and balanced curriculum accessible to all pupils, which meets legal and course requirements. The overall quality of the educational provision for the under-fives is good. The involvement of younger pupils in the outdoor environment in meaningful learning experiences is preparing them well for the Foundation Phase. This imaginative and relevant use of the school grounds and the local environment is a strong feature throughout the school. The school provides an appropriate range of out of school and residential activities for the pupils, including those of a sporting and musical nature, and these have a positive impact on pupils learning and personal and social skills. Overall learning successfully promotes pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. There are strong links with parents, who are very supportive to the school. Parents’ evenings and curriculum evenings are well attended. The Friends of the school are actively involved in fund raising and also provides a work force for environmental improvement projects. A strength of the school is close links that exist between the pupils, staff, parents, carers and the community. This provides a happy, supportive, caring and safe environment for pupils and a strong and well-structured pastoral system. The school benefits from its links with all support agencies. Pupils are developing a good understanding of their community. Links with other schools are good. There are good liaison and transition arrangements between them and the local high school, and the school has strong links with Aberystwyth University. The overall aims of the school are well addressed. It is well led by the headteacher who has a good overview of the school and promotes and sustains on-going improvements within the school. The school development plan is clear and concise. Expenditure is increasingly being linked to its priorities. Targets set are challenging but achievable. Staff have high expectations of the children and put the needs of pupils at the centre of the curriculum. The curriculum coordinators have a good overview of the development of all subjects within their key stage although liaison between key stages is at an informal level. Administrative, caretaking and catering staff are valued members of the school team and make an effective contribution. School and grounds are generally well maintained with little evidence of litter around the school. The quality of support and direction given by the governing body is good. The head teacher has worked closely with the governors to monitor and manage the budget. They co-operate effectively to set a strategic direction for school development. They are well informed about standards and play a supportive role in school development. The school provides good value for money overall. 18 7 Glasbury Church-in-Wales Aided Primary School 42 pupils The school has extensive grounds, including playground areas, a playing field, a garden and a forest school wooded area. It serves the wide surrounding rural area although a few pupils, particularly with additional learning needs, travel further by parental choice. The school describes pupils’ family circumstances as socio-economically disadvantaged; the level of deprivation of some families is high. Approximately 46% of pupils are supported by a single mother or father or live with a parent that has a disability. Several families are also regularly mobile; Currently, around 24% of pupils are registered as being entitled to receive free school meals, which is above the national average of 17.5%. This school is a very special place for its pupils and staff. A very warm and caring ethos permeates all aspects of its work with the result that it provides a very relevant and supportive education for its pupils. Although there is scope for continued development in standards, teaching and management, there are many obvious improvements since the last inspection. The seven key question grades are 3,3,3,2,3,3,2 Standards of achievement in the subjects inspected were 67% grade 2 and the rest grade 3. Pupils have good key personal, social and learning skills overall. In particular, their thinking and problem solving skills are well developed, although their research skills are less advanced. Most work well with others and acquire confidence as independent learners. They have positive attitudes to work and are motivated to succeed. They sustain concentration well, although a significant few lose interest quickly. They know the targets they are set in English and mathematics, but there is scope to develop their involvement in the self-assessment and target setting processes. Relationships between pupils are good overall and older ones look after those younger than themselves. They take on responsibilities willingly and perform their duties as various types of monitors efficiently. Most pupils behave well and are aware of what is expected of them. They are polite, friendly and courteous to each other and adults. They know the difference between right and wrong and work and play together well. They understand that bullying and anti-social behaviour are unacceptable and they are aware of what to do should such incidents occur. Pupils have an appropriate understanding of equal opportunities issues and they realise that all should be treated with equal dignity and respect. Attendance has improved since the last inspection and, at over 95% during the last three terms, comfortably exceeds the WAG target set for primary schools. Nearly all pupils arrive punctually in the mornings. The school is a focal point of the local community and the school itself engenders a strong community spirit. The quality of teaching was judged as 68% Grade 2 and the rest grade 3. There is a strong sense of shared enjoyment in working constructively together. The quality of the relationships between staff and pupils is exemplary and adults provide very good role models. Teachers prepare lessons effectively. but opportunities to develop bilingual skills are often missed. Assessment, recording and reporting are good overall and meet statutory requirements. The school has a good tracking system for monitoring pupils’ progress over time in the core subjects and this is used consistently and effectively. The headteacher and staff place a high priority on pastoral care. The school provides a broad curriculum that meets requirements. A particular strength is the focus on skill development, investigatory work and practical activities. Pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good. Moral and social development is effectively promoted. Pupils learn about other lifestyles and cultures and are very aware of the major issues relating to sustainable development, participating in a range of activities. This is a strength of the school. Parents are generally very supportive and there are good links with the local community. Provision for pupils’ personal support and guidance is a strength of the school. The school works in partnership with a range of relevant support agencies and seeks additional help quickly when required. Members of staff provide a breakfast club, a part-time early years setting and flexible after-school care arrangements; which contribute effectively to the school’s caring ethos. The promotion of healthy eating and a healthy lifestyle is an outstanding aspect of the school’s daily life. The headteacher leads the school by example, extremely committed to the welfare of pupils and adults, but her workload is extremely demanding, limiting time for planning the school’s strategic direction. As a result, the SDP does not identify a clear overview of short and long term needs and priorities. There is evidence of effective teamwork in the school and the headteacher undertakes performance management reviews for all staff; targets are appropriately linked to identified school priorities. The headteacher and the second teacher share responsibility for almost all of the subjects and work together closely, but tend to focus on their own key stage with no formal system or cycle of recorded monitoring across the school to assess continuity and progression. Day to day administrative routines operate efficiently and the governing body (GB) meets regularly. Governors are very supportive of the school and carry out their duties diligently and effectively. Money is spent wisely and in line with identified priorities. The school gives good value for money in light of its particular context. 19 8 Trefnanney Primary School 26 pupils ( all from English speaking backgrounds) This small school, very well led by the headteacher, supported by her equally committed colleague and other staff, provides a very good quality of education for all its pupils. Baseline figures are above average for the area. Around 12% of the pupils are entitled to free school meals, below the national average. There are at present 35% on the special educational needs register (SEN) which is above the national average. There are no statemented children. The school population has remained fairly stable since it was last inspected in April 2002. The experienced staff have been at the school for a number of years, the present headteacher for 20 years. All seven key questions are judged Grade 2 matching school self-evaluation. In the standards it achieves 33% are Grade 1 and the rest Grade 2, better than the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) all-Wales target. These results are a credit to the teachers’ and pupils’ hard work and commitment .Standards in Art are Grade 1 throughout the school and Welsh as a second language is Grade 1 at KS1. Early years pupils make very good progress in their basic and key skills and good progress in creative skills. They also show very good personal and social skills. Over recent years results have shown that pupils over both key stages perform above the local and national averages and trends show that high standards are maintained. 12 Pupils with SEN make good progress and achieve the targets set for them in their individual education plans (IEPs). More able pupils have access to additional materials to help develop their skills. Pupils of all ages achieve good standards in their knowledge and understanding. An outstanding feature of pupils’ contribution is their work ethic. They work well independently and approach problem solving with confidence. The behaviour of pupils is outstanding. They are courteous, respectful and considerate to each other, staff and visitors. Older ones take particular interest and care in their younger school friends. They refer to the school being like a ‘family’ Attendance is better than the national average for all schools. Pupil’s personal, social and moral skills are very good. They recognise the need to treat every person fairly and without discrimination. They have a realistic understanding of equal opportunities. Provision for the spiritual, moral, social and cultural development is good including healthy lifestyles. Pupils’ entrepreneurial skills are developing well with pupils raising funds for charities and selling their own produce. They have a good understanding of sustainable development. The quality of care and support provided by the school for its pupils is good. The school is appropriately staffed and teachers show good knowledge and keep abreast of changes in their subjects. The LSA and peripatetic teachers, who visit the school weekly, contribute considerably to the success of the school and its common aims. The overall quality of teaching is good with outstanding features. In the lessons observed, the quality of teaching was judged as follows: Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 34% 66% 0% 0% 0% The school plays a very positive role in the community and the pupils enjoy a wide range of experiences supported by staff, governors and local people. Together they provide a wide range of additional activities that broaden and enrich pupils’ learning experiences from sporting to artistic pursuits. Parents are very supportive and the school keeps them well informed. The quality of the school’s partnership with parents, governors and the local community is a strong feature of the school’s success. The experienced headteacher provides clear confident and coherent leadership. Together with her equally experienced colleague their management of a wide and interesting curriculum is an outstanding feature. The school has a clear set of values and a vision for the pupils’ future. The full involvement of staff, parents, governors and the local community in its aims and objectives is an outstanding feature. The governing body (GB) is well informed and proactive. Together with the staff they drive the school forward helping to plan strategically for the future. There is a clear rationale for selfevaluation and the school has been very successful in establishing procedures which are comprehensive, systematic and based on clear evidence. There are good links between the self-evaluation process and the school development plan (SDP) which emerges. This clearly identifies priorities, targets and responsibilities for all stakeholders. The accommodation is well maintained and kept clean. However, the building can be restrictive at times and it is a credit to the staff and pupils that they use it safely and appropriately. The lack of a school hall is also a restriction. The school has progressed well since the last inspection and it continues to improve the quality of provision. As a result it gives good value for money. 20 9 St. Joseph’s RC Primary Llanfaes 76 pupils. This is outside the scope of this survey but an example of a school In its particular case inspectors were disappointed with standards achieved, quality of teaching and some aspects of pupil behaviour. The school is regarded as sound nevertheless and its weaknesses explained by some management failings. A new headteacher was just in place at the time of the inspection. we would generally regard as small. 10 St Michael’s CiW Primary School, Kerry 101 pupils. The school is also outside the scope of this survey but an example of a school conventionally regarded as “small” and where parents are again significant. It is described by inspectors as an outstanding school in very many respects. Standards have improved significantly since the last inspection and the school is making outstanding progress in targeting excellence. Pupils thrive within the caring, inclusive community that has been established. Pupils with SEN make progress which is at least good and often very good. In the lessons inspected teaching was judged as follows: Grade 1 Grade 2 Grade 3 Grade 4 Grade 5 33% 55% 12% 0% 0% Outstanding features include: • innovative variety in teaching strategies within the same lesson; • excellent questioning skills, pertinently differentiated to individual ability; • consistently high expectations and challenging pace; • outstanding subject knowledge in chosen specialisms; and • outstanding ability to integrate different aspects and learning skills across the curriculum. The school has made outstanding progress since the last inspection, particularly in raising standards of achievement and in improving the partnership with parents. All other key issues raised in the previous inspection have been well addressed. The quality of staffing is outstanding with all teachers appropriately qualified and experienced. Very good use is made of staff expertise in subject specialist teaching sessions. Support staff make an outstanding contribution to the standards achieved by pupils. Those supporting pupils on a one-to-one basis are particularly effective. The leadership of the head is purposeful, visionary, imaginative, ambitious and effective. She gives a strong sense of direction to the work of the school and a secure sense of vision towards maintaining and improving both standards and provision. The school gives outstanding value for money. 11 Radnor Valley School in Rhayader is another well-achieving larger school, though still just 80 pupils. Note: NASS has always accepted that as schools get larger the task of leading and inspiring the teachers becomes harder but we recognise that leaders with the talents and vision exist but such dynamic people can be harder to find. By our standards this is a small school but larger than the very small ones on which we principally focus in this survey. It well serves, with the smaller ones, as the model of education we seek to defend across the UK because we believe it is very much needed in our towns and cities with their larger schools and neighbourhoods and higher levels of educational and societal failure. Such failure is very costly on other public service budgets and sustains our arguments for more joined-up thinking in economic analysis of education costs. We remain convinced that small schools represent wise economic investment and ESTYN inspectors give good value for money judgements even in the one case herein that is judged largely only satisfactory. St. Michael’s school has improved on its previous report and one notes the inspectors attribute this to improved relationships with parents. In small schools the long-documented significance of home background, contributing up to 50% of eventual educational outcomes, is well stirred and positively exploited. As numbers of staff and pupils rise it just becomes less and less possible even where academic life under dynamic headteachers happens also to thrive. Some very large schools also receive excellent inspection reports and test results across the UK but few reports describe the home and community relationships in such schools in quite the rich and extended way described in these sample reports St. Joseph’s points the significance of leadership to outcomes, well-documented in decades of research. It renders rather mysterious ESTYN’s 2006 high praise of the overall good results of small schools in Wales when it also then criticises leadership. We suggest that insufficient tolerance is made for the fact that many areas of expectation in school headship are far less and far often so relevant as they are in larger schools. For example induction will happen far less frequently and in a small school arrangements often need not follow strictly bureaucratic, administrative procedures. Where leadership matters, in the teaching and learning, our ESTYN reports clearly recognise good leadership effects. 21 Carmarthenshire We offer a sample of reports. There are not many schools below 50 with reports in 2007 and 2008. We cite other reports to affirm points we consistently make about the virtues of small schools. 1 Abernant 2007 41 pupils The school adjudges that the pupils’ levels of attainment vary greatly when they are first admitted to school. Approximately 20% of pupils have additional learning needs, and this is slightly higher than county and national percentages. Two pupils have statements of additional learning needs. The headteacher’s professional leadership and management effectively co-ordinate the efforts of staff and governors and make a significant contribution to giving a sense of direction to the work of the school. Inter-relationships at the school are good and team working is promoted effectively. The education provided by the school fulfils the requirements of the entire range of pupils and provides a broad, balanced and differentiated curriculum. The school has made good progress in addressing three of the five Key Issues identified in the 2001 Report. There has been a major improvement in four of the subjects inspected, and the percentage of good teaching has increased. Raising standards in English and improving the assessment arrangements continue to be priorities requiring attention since the last inspection. Grades for the seven key questions are: 2322232 Standards achieved show 90% Grade 2 and 10% Grade 3 These are higher than all-Wales Welsh Assembly Government [WAG] targets for 2007. Teaching is judged Grade 2 in 64% of lessons and Grade 3 in the rest Staff are managed effectively by the headteacher. They regularly evaluate the quality of provision in their areas of responsibility, but do not give sufficient consideration in their evaluations to the standards achieved by pupils. Selfevaluation arrangements are not strong enough to identify in detail which shortcomings require attention. The governors fulfil their responsibilities conscientiously and they work closely with the headteacher to set a strategic direction for the school. Their monitoring and evaluation role has not developed sufficiently. The school has a general overview of its performance. Sufficient teachers are suitably qualified to teach all aspects of the curriculum. The school’s financial management is good and resources are used efficiently, thus providing value for money. 22 2 Mynyddygarreg 2008 34 pupils This school provides a happy and caring environment. It is managed by a supportive governing body. The headteacher and staff work conscientiously to ensure that the school has clear values which are implemented in practice. The seven key question grades are 2 2 3 2 2 3 2 Grades fro standards achieved: 8% Grade 1; 62% Grade 2; 30% Grade3 These percentage figures are below the national average of 80% Grade 2 or better, Teaching: 12% Grade 1; 65% Grade 2; 23% Grade 3; slightly below national expectations. Parents are supportive of the school. A constructive home-school agreement is in place. The quality of the school’s links with the local community is good. The school is a welcoming, and caring community, in which pupils are well supported. It makes a good contribution to the well-being of pupils and the education provided meets the needs and range of pupils Pupils are very pleased with opportunities to serve on the school council and demonstrate a growing awareness of the importance of its role and of the opportunities it gives for them to be involved in decision-making. The school’s aims and values promote a caring ethos and ensure equality of opportunity for all pupils and staff. The headteacher provides caring leadership and has a good overview of the life and work of the school. She has a clear sense of the priorities for development. She is very ably supported by the key stage 2 teacher, other staff and governors. Analysis of performance data and the tracking of pupils’ progress is on-going resulting in standards having improved since the last inspection in design and technology. Whole-school quantitative targets are set. However, they have not impacted significantly on raising standards of achievement in Welsh in key stage 2 and mathematics in both key stages. The detailed school development plan (SDP) clearly sets out the school’s priorities with agreed time schedules, success criteria and costings identified. The management of individual staff is good with the implementation of performance management procedures. The governors are supportive of the school and fulfil their duties. The headteacher and staff are committed to raising standards. All staff are involved in the self-evaluation process, with consideration given to the viewpoints of governors, parents and learners. The school has an outstanding supply of teaching staff and employs peripatetic teachers and support staff to aid the learning. They work effectively together as a team. Overall, the school has made satisfactory progress since the last inspection in addressing the key issues identified. The school building is in satisfactory condition. Dampness penetrates certain areas and guttering at the rear of the school is in poor condition. Overall, there is a range of good resources for the curriculum and pupils make effective use of them. There is a satisfactory supply and use of computers throughout the school. Spending decisions are well linked to priorities in the school plans. The governing body is diligent in its role of reviewing and directing significant areas of expenditure. The headteacher and staff ensure the school runs effectively and efficiently from day-to-day. The school provides good value for money. 23 A short comparison using 3 reports 3a Bryn Teg 2007 200 pupils We include here a large school with above average levels of local deprivation to show that we accept large schools are as capable of high achievements, including provision for disadvantaged pupils. We do not know if it is an exception in this respect but the example serves to show that ESTYN is as prepared to award praise and high grades in large schools as in small schools. is a good school with no important shortcomings. Bryn Teg is in a Communities First area and is described as being socially and economically disadvantaged. The way pupils are cared for, guided and supported is an outstanding feature of the school. The school has outstanding features in many other areas including, aspects of how it meets the needs and interests of learners and the community, the leadership of the school and how it plans for improvement. The seven key judgements are 2 2 2 1 2 2 2 In Bryn Teg, pupils generally show high standards of achievement and succeed regardless of their social, ethnic, or linguistic background. The quality of achievement was judged to be as follows: 2.5% Grade 1; 74% Grade 2; 21% Grade 3; 2.5% Grade 4. Standards of achievement in the lessons observed are similar to WAG all-Wales targets. The quality of teaching is similar to the averages for Wales but the number of outstanding lessons is below. The way the school keeps parents informed about pupils’ progress and achievement is an outstanding feature of the school. (This is the only aspect reported relating to parents.) The headteacher has high expectations of herself and of her members of staff. The clear direction she gives is an outstanding feature of the school. (and reflected in many other leadership factors) 3b Model CiW Carmarthen 2008 same many areas as Bryn Teg 390 pupils This is another high-achieving large school, good or better in the The way the school keeps parents informed about pupils’ progress and achievement is an outstanding feature of the school. (This is the only aspect reported relating to parents.) 3c Tremoilet VCP 2007 41 pupils A small school like a few others inspected recently under 50 on roll and with grades confirming almost to a county pattern of twos and threes. Annual written reports for parents are generally of good quality and contain detailed information about pupils’ academic progress. They also include targets for improvement. Partnership with parents is good. This is reflected in the positive responses in the pre-inspection meeting with parents and the questionnaires. Parents are fully involved in the life of the school and are kept well informed by the headteacher. The school provides a broad and stimulating curriculum, which meets both legal and course requirements and the needs of pupils. An outstanding feature of the under-fives’ curriculum and that for Y1 pupils is the quality of experiences children receive in the outdoor learning environment. The quality of relationships within the school is very positive; pupils are able to work co-operatively within groups showing respect towards each others’ views. They undertake any additional responsibilities eagerly and provide each other with good mutual support. The under fives and KS1 pupils make good progress in their ability to work independently and to make their own decisions about their learning. KS2 pupils’ independent learning skills are less developed. From the early years onwards, children begin to understand their role as part of a village community. However, they only have a limited understanding of the workplace. Note: We argue that the smaller the school the more readily and easily they can interact constructively with parents in ways directly influencing children’s work and behaviour. Moreover in this small school’s grades are in mainly “good” territory for standards and teaching. 24 We now treat two Welsh-medium schools, both very small. We detect no weaknesses giving concern to inspectors, no concerns about breadth of curriculum or access to specialist teaching, only the same impressive evidence of happy, caring communities giving children a safe and secure start, close to home and within the places with which they naturally identify. The Scottish data showing that the smaller the school the better, including for disadvantaged children, included a reference to Gaelic-medium schools. Most of these are below 100 on roll, and the Scottish small schools were shown to obtain the better results. Within the smaller schools Gaelic-medium schools obtained the best results of all. There is predictable logic in this since research tells us that the extent of parental support for the work and life and learning of the children is a crucial factor central to long-term outcomes. The one factor in Gaelic-medium school likely to have maximum parental background is the language and given that it is no surprise those schools succeed in everything else. There are surely lessons here for Welsh-medium schools and a need to protect, retain and develop them within their distinctive local communities.. 4a Ysgol Llangain Its last report was 2003 when it had 15 pupils. If closed the only alternatives are English-medium schools. We copy from its website an example of KS2 work based on the theme “Ourselves” to show the rich extent to which parents are asked to engage constructively in activities that extend as well as reinforce the children’s school learning. Children's Work Here is a list of topics that we are currently studying during the term and a list of suggestions on how these can be reinforced at home. Ourselves Curricular Subject Language Study Topic Suggestions for home reinforcement Mathematics Dialogues, fact files, Diary and biography writing Number work (+ - x ÷) Reinforcing these topics by asking your child to write a file ‘o fact about a family member/friend. Write a short diary e.g. of a particular weekend, keep a diary of the food eaten over a period of time… Draw your child’s attention to everyday needs of numeracy skills e.g. whilst shopping, bus timetable reading… Science History Tables, time, shape The Body The Victorian Era Geography Art Design and Technology Music ICT Physical Education Discuss body parts, healthy living – foods, lifestyles Search for photographs, compare lifestyles – then and now. Research together facts about influential people of the time Snowdon Look at posters, pictures, leaflets of Snowdonia. Discuss and contrast landscapes. You could even arrange a site visit during half term/weekend! Self Portraits Discuss famous paintings and artists e.g. Leonardo de Vinci. Arrange a visit to your local art gallery. Search the internet Sewing – design and Discuss or draw attention to the purpose of various materials and how they create a ‘Kit Bag’ are joined. Look at fastenings e.g. Velcro, buttons… Analysing music that Listen to various music – classical, pop, rock, opera … and discuss what expresses a mood mood it depicts/reflects. Digital photography and If you have a computer at home, download pictures of family members and help them to modify the pictures! editing skills Swimming and Dance Also, reinforce basic word processing skills. Discuss Modern, Waltz, Marches, Flamingo +Twist music, beats and styles 25 4b Ysgol Gynradd Llansawel 2007 15 pupils This is a small rural village serving the village itself and its hinterland. The school is historically small and pupil numbers have been fairly constant over the last four years. Welsh is the main language spoken by some 20% of pupils, although many of the children come from homes where one parent speaks Welsh. The school believes that approximately half the pupils now speak Welsh to first language standard. Pupils make good progress in their learning. They are eager to learn and they work hard and productively in their lessons. When they are given opportunities, pupils of all ages can work independently and are able to make decisions about their work. The seven key grades are: 3 2 2 2 2 2 2; Standards grades show 58% Grade 2 and 42% Grade 3 Quality of teaching is given as 77% Grade 2 and the rest Grade 3 There is a good working relationship between teachers and pupils and this nurtures effective learning. Equal opportunities are regularly promoted and teachers make effective use of a range of teaching methods to reinforce and reaffirm the pupils’ bilingual competence. The quality of teaching for the under-fives and the quality of teaching for pupils with additional learning needs is good. The teachers have good subject knowledge and they make appropriate use of resources such as information and communications technology. Interesting and challenging tasks are provided that fulfil the needs of the entire range of ability and age to be found in the classes. The teachers know the pupils very well and this leads to purposeful assessment and planning that promotes progress in pupils’ work. The curriculum provided is broad and balanced and secures full access for all pupils. It fully meets the statutory requirements. Pupils have some understanding of the function of assessment, but they do not play an obviously active part in the process. The highly effective contribution made by the learning assistants ensures that all pupils receive full access to the curriculum. The annual reports to parents are of good quality. They clearly note pupils’ achievements in each area and offer useful observations with regard to the way forward. The numerous activities and visits arranged enhance the pupils’ learning and develop important social and personal skills. Their learning is reinforced by useful homework tasks. The parents are very supportive of all school activities and they work closely with the headteacher and governors. The school is an important focus for village life and it makes regular contributions to social events. There are productive links with two neighbouring primary schools and there are good links with the local secondary schools. The teachers plan carefully in order to secure continuity and progression in pupils’ learning. Pupils are given good opportunities to develop their enterprise skills The pupils’ bilingual skills are promoted effectively and appropriate emphasis is placed on the Cwricwlwm Cymreig and the local dimension. The quality of care and support offered to pupils is good. The school is a happy and caring community, each pupil is valued as an individual and they feel they can approach any member of staff for assistance. Pupils are given regular access to a programme of personal and social education. The personal and social skills of pupils of all ages are good. They work together in a friendly manner, show respect and care for others and they behave well. The detailed attention given to sustainable development ensures that pupils have a good awareness of environmental issues and that they make regular use of the school’s recycling system. They make good progress in their awareness of global citizenship. Pupils’ awareness of equal opportunity issues is good and they respect diversity in society. They have a good understanding of their community but their knowledge of the world of work is superficial. Average levels of attendance at the school over the last three terms prior to the inspection were 94%, which is slightly higher than the national average. Pupil punctuality at the beginning of the school day is good. The headteacher’s thoughtful leadership ensures that staff and governors have an active role in the development of the school and that they work effectively as a team. Governors have a good understanding of their responsibilities. They fulfil their work effectively and regularly monitor the quality of the educational provision, despite the tendency for the level at which they operate to be too informal. The school’s self-evaluation systems are effective. The School Development Plan is of good quality. There is a clear link between the outcomes of self-evaluation and priorities outlined in the Plan with clear aims and priorities for the future. There are enough suitably qualified teachers to teach all aspects of the curriculum and plenty of resources for all ages, used regularly and effectively. Effective use is made of buildings and ground. The headteacher and governors plan school expenditure carefully and in accord with school priorities, and the school provides good value for money. 26 Ynys Mon Turning to a remote corner of the country we offer a 2005 report within the remit of ESTYN’s 2006 survey. We include it also because it is a very small school, with above average local community disadvantage. We include it also because for Leadership and Management inspectors chose to raise the self-evaluation grade of 3 to Grade 2. viz. “Grade 2: Good features and no important shortcomings.” Of course this implies further potential to refine performance but it is hardly the language of small school leadership failings alleged by ESTYN in its 2006 report and picked up so eagerly by the Rural Development Committee and organisations with largely experience of large schools. Ysgol Llanddeusant 2005 35 pupils (An example in ESTYN’s database at the time of its 2006 report) This is a small rural school providing bilingual education Llanddeusant and two neighbouring parishes. The school is in a building established originally as a church school in1847, significantly re-modelled in 1971, creating a new hall and additional teaching space. The school contains pupils representing the full range of ability and their attainment levels vary considerably at the time of their admission to school. The area is not prosperous; 33% of pupils are entitled to receive free school meals, a percentage that is considerably higher than the national average. Twenty nine per cent of pupils have special educational needs again higher than the national average, and three pupils have statements of SEN. The seven key judgements are: 2 2 3 2 2 3 2 Standards achieved are: 92% Grade 2 8% Grade 3 .The standards achieved by pupils far exceed the all-Wales Welsh Assembly Government targets. The school succeeds in ensuring that pupils of all social and linguistic backgrounds achieve their potential. At the end of KS1 and KS2, in 2004, pupils’ National Curriculum attainments in all subjects are higher than both catchment and Local Education Authority areas. The quality of teaching, 90% Grade 2 the rest Grade 3 exceeds the all-Wales targets Pupils with SEN are taught effectively and make good progress towards their targets. They are well supported by their teachers and support staff. The school provides a welcoming and homely environment in which all pupils feel happy and confident. The school responds well to pupils’ needs and provides equal access to a broad and balanced curriculum that conforms to legal requirements. The pupils in both key stages make good progress in their learning. Pupils feel comfortable in seeking advice and guidance. In both key stages they work hard and use their time effectively, concentrating well on their tasks. The curriculum enables them to gain a range of skills valuable in terms of lifelong learning, including bilingualism, ICT and numeracy skills, personal and social skills. The quality of the provision in both languages is good. The Cwricwlwm Cymreig features prominently in the curriculum. They have an appropriate understanding of what they are doing but do not yet evaluate the strengths and shortcomings of their work. The creative skills of pupils in both key stages are good, with some outstanding features. The work produced, led by a resident artist, is of a very high standard. The progress made in both key stages in personal, social and moral development is good. The vast majority behave responsibly in all situations, respecting their fellow pupils and other adults in their presence. They show concern for their fellow pupils, accept personal responsibility for their work and exhibit honesty and fairness in their dealings with others. Pupils of all ages display an appropriate awareness of equal opportunity issues and respect for diversity in society. The quality of care, support and guidance provided to pupils is good. The learning experiences effectively promote pupils’ spiritual, moral, social and cultural development. The school places a strong emphasis on caring for others and virtues such as honesty and truth. The school succeeds in preparing the pupils well for participating fully in the life of the community. Through a range of extra-curricular activities and appropriate educational visits, they come to be well informed about the world of work and various businesses and industries. The annual reports to parents are of good quality, meeting requirements and providing useful information about their children’s progress in all subjects, together with helpful comments about personal and social development. The partnership and links with parents are grade 1. The parents appreciate the school’s work and are supportive of its aims and objectives. A good number contribute directly to the educational provision. The PTA is active and raises considerable sums of money for school funds. The school communicates effectively with parents providing good quality information suitable for Welsh and non-Welsh speakers. There are strong links between the school and the local community. Village residents respond well to events and celebrations held at the school. There are good links between the school and other local primary schools and with the local secondary school. The average attendance for the last three terms prior to the inspection was 97%. All pupils attend regularly arrive punctually at the start of the school day. The headteacher’s positive leadership provides a clear sense of direction. She succeeds in effectively co-ordinating the teachers, support staff, governing body and parents. Effective arrangements establish whole-school annual targets for improvement that are both achievable and realistic. Monitoring and evaluation are Grade 3. Governors know the school well, work effectively with the headteacher and undertake their responsibilities effectively. 27 Ysgol Ffrwd Win 2007 42 pupils (12 SEN, of which 6 have statements) This report is not amenable to cut and paste. We offer a summary, plus the Governors’ own response to the report. Welsh is the main language in 60% of the homes and 70% speak it as a first language. Bearing in mind the levels of SEN and with free school meals entitlement only just below the national average, the resulting standards achieved, with 23% in Grade 1 and 59% in Grade 2 is highly commendable. The same Grades applied to teaching quality. The headteacher was judged meticulous with school finances, planning ahead purposefully and effectively and working closely with the Finance Governors. The school was good value for money. The school offered a broad, balanced and relevant curriculum, in which regular visits to places of interest formed part. Almost inevitably the good support of parents and the local community was noted. In their comments governors said they believed the report fair, constructive and positive, reflecting the good work being done at the school. They saw it as a positive dialogue, a developmental process from which they would benefit. Inspection findings had boosted their confidence, encouraged both pride in their work on the part pf staff, governors and parents and determination to address identified shortcomings. In fact, with 6 of 7 Key performance ratings judge good the only shortcoming were in the seventh where a Grade 3 shows them not to outweigh the overall quality. They were pleased inspectors had highlighted a number of good and outstanding features including the fact that standards achieved and quality of teaching exceeded national targets with good progress in key skills. They were delighted the children’s powers of concentration and perseverance had showed in their ability to solve problems and support one another. They felt proud that under-fives had been rated good in four key areas and outstanding in knowledge and understanding of the world. They were pleased that art ICT, geography and PE were judged good and art outstanding across both key stages. Ysgol Gymuned Llanfechell 2008 96 pupils This school is outside the scope of this survey but we are happy to report that, still within general definitions of small size, inspectors gave it Grade 1 on all seven key questions, noting many outstanding features including the relationships with parents and local people. NASS affirms that quality of education reflects the two now well-researched and documented dimensions of home background and quality of teaching/leadership and this school provides a fine example However, inspectors state categorically the toilet facilities for staff and pupils in key stage 2 are insufficient. We could find no evidence they found this impacting on pupil or staff performance. It did feature in the very few recommendations! It would seem sad to close such a school for such a reason. Inspectors judged that the school offers very good value for money. Yet it remains, at around 100 pupils, within that category of school many senior local authority officers, several professional association officers and ill-informed politicians deem unviable, using reasons of educational deficiency such as small peer groups, poor buildings, mixed age and ability classes and lack of subject specialists. The reports in this survey have often involved just such “deficiencies” but no disasters have been noted. Indeed levels of success have been impressive. NASS must affirm that ESTYN reports reflect only what has long obtained in England and Scotland. We have no argument against schools of around 100 and less. They are very capable of the academic qualities demanded by society but they also very effectively address those equally important areas of social interaction between pupils, teachers and other adults clearly driving small school success and more difficult in larger places. The humanity of scale rewards what proves wise investment. Our survey shows that even the smallest schools are as capable and it is no argument to suggest for administrative convenience, using narrow financial parameters that a school of 25 pupils must close and the children travel to smart new schools of 60-100 which of course are still “small schools.” They have been detached from the home and neighbourhood environment central to their security. There are better ways to bring what benefits accrue from larger scale using more flexible strategy than reducing the diversity of dynamic local practice. The report on another small school, 28 pupils, says it all: A particular strength of Ysgol Llangaffo is its sense of family community and the friendliness of its pupils. The school is a happy establishment. Pupils benefit from valuable experiences and the conscientious, devoted efforts of all the staff. The pupils’ behaviour and attitudes are outstanding. They make progress, achieve well and develop confidently in both languages. The findings of the inspection team match the judgements made by the school in all seven of the key question. 28 Conclusion This is far from an exhaustive reflection of the quality obtained in Welsh small and very small schools. However, we believe it well and honestly reflects what ESTYN reported in its 2006 survey. The news release for this survey started thus: Small Primary Schools in Wales achieve good results Children across Wales achieve just as good results in small primary schools (less than 90 pupils) as they do in larger schools, the education and training inspectorate Estyn has revealed. Partnership with parents is generally good. In the smallest schools the close links between schools and parents make a positive contribution to school life. Estyn’s report also says that small schools generally do not do so well as other schools in areas of leadership and management, staff development and curriculum planning. When the headteacher has a substantial teaching commitment, there is less time for leadership and management tasks. “Schools of all sizes can provide a high quality education for pupils,” said Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector for Education and Training in Wales, Susan Lewis. This is not well reflected in the Rural Development Sub-Committee Report on rural education which rather focuses on the critique of school leadership. Our survey shows no failing of leaders by ESTYN nor any comments that curriculum is other than broad, balanced and meeting requirements. We recognise that in recent years across the UK more and more essentially administrative, bureaucratic demands have been placed on headteachers and these are a burden across primary education. We believe that much of this is designed and imposed because 90% of children are educated in larger schools, generating more need for system control. The very nature of small school headship means alternative strategies are available to cope with such demands while some of the situations, such as induction, will arise far less often. We do not believe this remark by ESTYN, taken out of context as in the RDsC Report, properly recognises what emerges consistently in ESTYN reports, namely that, where it matters, in the teaching and learning, in the partnership between school, home and community, Headteachers, staff and governors of small and very small schools, well supported by parents and local people, are leading and managing well. In terms of the alleged deficiencies listed by WAG in Para 1.16 of the current consultation document on guidance for school organisation, we find nothing in this sample of reports to justify such dubious claims. Consultation with the public using such assumed but unproven deficiencies is unwise and unfair. Small staff teams are providing the specialist competence and professional teaching skills to meet curriculum requirements and achieve results the nation and taxpayers want. Their success with children from disadvantaged and impoverished backgrounds is creditable and confirms Scottish data that such children do best in that country’s smallest schools. The Scottish data also shows that Gaelic-medium schools, most of them small, do best of all schools and this certainly reflects the fact it is probably the subject and strategy most important to parents. This has significance for Welsh-medium education. Small peer groups are thriving in terms of standards achieved and personal development. There are several references to an ethos in which old and young relate well and those who can support those still learning. This is the oldest educational model in the book and directly reflects family life and working life. Small and very small schools are clearly well integrated in their communities despite the RDsC casting doubt at but a general level. Even where deficiencies in buildings have been noted it clearly is not affecting the work as the majority of studies, ESTYN’s apart, affirm. The work described in this survey confirms our claim that the model of education represented by small schools is one of the finest yet devised and is urgently needed elsewhere in educational provision, not least in our towns and cities.