Monday, 1 February 2016

 1st February 2016

Dear Parents / Guardians,

School’s Response to Categorisation

As a school we are very disappointed with the lack of clarity in reporting the process of national categorisation, which has been widely publicised in the local press over the last week. The purpose of this letter is to respond to any concerns that you may have in light of the school’s current Amber Status.

Firstly, we would like to point out that this is not a comparison of Merthyr Schools. Schools are grouped together depending on the amount of free school meal children who attend, and other socio-economic factors. Our school has very low free school meals by comparison to most Merthyr schools and therefore is not compared against them in this process.  For example:

  • The percentage of children who attained the expected level for the core subjects at the end of KS2 last year at Abercanaid was 91.3% - this is in line with the results of the Green Merthyr schools (nb. one of the green schools scored 84%).
  • Only 2 children with Special Educational Needs at Abercanaid did not attain this level.
  • Abercanaid performed above all but one of the Yellow Merthyr schools at this measure.

It is worth noting due to low Free School Meals - Abercanaid’s grant funding was the lowest in Merthyr - £500 less per pupil than the best funded school in Merthyr in grant funding alone.

The categorisation process is based on raw data. Before Christmas the school governors met with our Challenge Advisor to review teaching and learning at the school, discuss individual children who affect the data and agree the categorisation. This was agreed as Yellow – even though the school’s data suggests otherwise due to the Special Educational Needs of individual pupils. People who know the school recognise that the standard of teaching and learning at the school is good for ALL pupils. 

A moderation committee met at the end of December and downgraded our categorisation to Amber – purely on raw data. Against the recommendation of our Challenge Advisor who knows the school.  This is also out of step with our recent Estyn Inspection which judged standards to be GOOD and ability to improve to be GOOD also.

Abercanaid has always been and will continue to be an inclusive school. We welcome children from our community who have specific educational needs, support them to make appropriate and often greater than expected progress.  Unfortunately the system we work within does not have the capacity to get to know the awesome individual children we have the privilege to work with, all it sees are numbers.  Furthermore, it does not recognise the hard work and dedication of the excellent staff who work at our school.

Finally, you may wish to know that the school is predicted to be yellow for September 2016, and Green the following year.  Either way, as you can see from above, this measure is not something that the school feels is an accurate reflection of the education that your children receive.

As ever, thank you for your continued support and understanding. If you need any further clarification please do not hesitate to ask one of our staff, or governors who will be pleased to explain this process further.

Kind Regards,

Mr. M Sullivan,