Education watchdog Estyn has given Neath Port Talbot Council a triple ‘good’ rating for the way it delivers education.
Estyn’s ‘good’ ratings – after a December 2017 inspection - were awarded in three key areas, Outcomes, Quality of Education Services and Leadership and Management.
Despite the authority being one of the most deprived in Wales, Estyn reported that at key stage 4, there are typically twice as many high-performing schools in Neath Port Talbot compared to the national average.
Inspectors noted that Neath Port Talbot know their schools well and monitor, challenge and support them appropriately.
The inspection report singled out praise for key figures when it came to leadership and management, saying: “The Leader, Chief Executive, Cabinet Member for Education and senior officers work closely together to lead services for children and young people well.”
Estyn found a culture of strong partnership working with other local authorities and the local health board that enables the authority to provide a range of support services to promote learners’ wellbeing effectively. They also commended Neath Port Talbot Council on its Strategic School Improvement Programme which has seen millions of pounds invested into new schools despite severe austerity measures.
They said: “During the past five years elected members have made suitable decisions that have resulted in new schools opening and the closure and amalgamation of others.
Cabinet member for Education Peter Rees said: “Despite the austerity hit Council budget being subjected to cuts of £77m since 2010 Neath Port Talbot Council has shown its commitment to education by investing millions in building new schools, supported by the Welsh Government’s 21st Century Schools’ Programme.”
Estyn noted that Education staff show a strong commitment to professional learning in order to update their knowledge and skills.
The inspectors strongly approved Neath Port Talbot Council’s overall philosophy towards education, in particular, its culture of listening carefully to the views of children and young people.
They said: “The Corporate Plan demonstrates the council’s clear commitment to improving education with one of its three main objectives being ‘to improve the wellbeing of children and young people’.
The Leader of Neath Port Talbot Council, Councillor Rob Jones, said: “We are delighted the inspectors have highly rated our education services and recognise that we have a clear understanding of the key challenges that we face.”
“I am very proud to lead a Council that has been applauded by Estyn for its clear vision and where learners make strong progress.”