the civic centre in pontypool
The Civic Centre in Pontypool Credit: LDRS

A SCHOOL in special measures for five years is making “progress” but the councillor responsible has refused to predict when it will leave the category. 

It was confirmed in March this year Cwmbran High School would remain subject to the close supervision of school inspectors Estyn which said it had made “insufficient progress” in the five years since they demanded improvements. 

Days after that report was published Torfaen Borough Council’s chief education officer Andrew Powles told members of the council’s srcutiny committee he was “pleased” with the report. 

Mr Powles said the report from the monitoring visit to the 1,115 pupil school at the start of 2024 had noted improvements in teaching and leadership despite it recommending it remain in the special measures category. 

Llantarnam independent councillor David Thomas asked for an explanation of the comments, he’d read in the South Wales Argus newspaper, at the full council meeting on March 23. 

Cllr Thomas asked Richard Clark, the cabinet member for education, to “explain how Estyn’s use of the phrase ‘insufficient progress’ can be translated by the council to mean ‘appropriate progress’ particularly given the length of time involved?” 

Cllr Clark, Labour member for Croesyceiliog, said Mr Powles’ comments related to progress made since the appointment of a new headteacher, and his own appointment with the authority and since a new governing body was established. 

He said: “There is much still to do but it as reported by Estyn progress on its recommendations has been made.” 

Improvements in teaching and learning and new appointments among senior and middle leadership roles were also listed as progress by the cabinet member. 

Cllr Thomas then asked Cllr Clark “are you confident Cwmbran High will come out of special measures by the end of this year?” 

He replied: “I’m confident it is working towards that goal but I never predict what Estyn will say, or we wouldn’t be in this position as an authority. 

“It shows me the school is on progress to come out of special measures but that is a determination for Estyn.”