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Borough's schools 'significantly' cut number leaving without qualifications.

A COUNCIL education service has been praised by inspectors, who rated provision good or above in all key areas.

Neath Port Talbot was the first local authority in Wales to be judged under Estyn's new inspection framework.

Following a five-day assessment, officials ruled that the authority's education service is good with good prospects for improvement. In their evaluations, inspectors rate on a four point scale of excellent, good, adequate or unsatisfactory for three key questions.

Neath Port Talbot were rated good or above in all and Estyn has again recognised that support for children and young people with additional learning needs is excellent.

Inspectors state that children and young people across the authority make steady progress in their learning and, at the end of Key Stage 4, achieve very good standards.

They also note that the number of young people leaving full-time education without a recognised qualification has fallen significantly and is better than the all-Wales average.

Inspectors were particularly impressed by the effective leadership and high standards throughout.

The report concluded that Neath Port Talbot is in a strong position to respond to national school improvement policy in literacy and numeracy and to tackle the link between poverty and poor attainment as highlighted by the Education Minister.

Specific challenges to be tackled in the future include a greater focus on teacher-led assessment, greater scrutiny by councillors, better joint strategic planning by agencies and reducing surplus places.

Council leader Ali Thomas welcomed an "extremely positive report" that he said reflects the strength of partnership between the local authority, schools and others.

Director of education Karl Napieralla added: "This report acknowledges the progress we have made from our last inspection and that our plans identify strengths and areas for development.

"I am pleased that inspectors recognise that we have a clear and shared vision that is communicated well with schools."
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Mar 10, 2011
Words:309
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