More Welsh schools have moved into the top category in the latest annual ratings published on Tuesday.
In this year’s colour-coded ratings, 425 primary and secondary schools made the top green category – up from 333.
Meanwhile, those schools in the red category, the ones needing the most improvement, fell again to 46 – compared to 58 in 2015.
The Welsh Government believes it helps identify the schools that need the most help, support and guidance to improve.
The National School Categorisation System is agreed between local education authorities and Welsh Government and includes performance measures and self-evaluation by schools.
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The 2016 ratings for each school are also published on the Welsh Government’s My Local School website.
The latest ratings show:
- Of the 46 schools in the red category, 13 were there the year before
- Neither Bridgend, Merthyr Tydfil or Swansea have any schools in the category in need of greatest support, while Flintshire has four high schools rated red – a third of its secondary schools
- Cardiff has three secondary schools with the red rating again – down from four
- There are nine schools which have jumped two grades from red to yellow in one year
- The proportion of green schools – those needing less support – has increased by five percentage points in the primary sector and seven percentage points in the secondary sector
Education Secretary Kirsty Williams said: “This system is not about grading, labelling or creating crude league tables but about providing support and encouraging improvement in our schools.
“It is about putting schools into a position that helps them to identify areas they can strengthen and what they need to do achieve further improvements.”
She said 84.4% of primary and 64.6% of secondary schools were now in the green and yellow categories.
“This increase is to be welcomed, as these schools will have a key role to play in supporting other schools, sharing their skills, expertise, and good practice,” Ms Williams added.
They follow on from education watchdog Estyn’s annual report last week which found seven out of 10 primary schools were “good or better” but only four out of 10 of the secondary schools it inspected.
Teaching unions have generally given a cautious welcome to the system, providing it is only part of wider methods of evaluating schools.
NUT Wales secretary David Evans said: “With more schools in both the primary and secondary sector placed in the top green category, and all other categories seeing a decrease we can say this year’s figures are positive news.
“However, we should not misrepresent the fact that categorisation is but one model for evaluation and simply a snapshot of performance.”
Rob Williams, director of policy at head teachers’ union NAHT Cymru, said: “We still believe that for categorisation to work at its best, it needs to be part of a co-ordinated school improvement system in Wales.”
He added: “As Estyn highlighted in their recent annual report, variability still exists across Wales and the additional focus on schools in the amber and red categories does not mask the huge funding disparities that continue to exist between schools.
“We know that the Welsh Government is listening to school leaders and their concerns about a system that uses single cohorts of pupil data in isolation, with no inclusion of the progress those individual pupils make whilst in a school.”
Welsh teaching union Ucac’s policy officer Ywain Myfyr said: “All things considered it is quite a remarkable achievement that the situation has improved.
“We must praise our teachers, our teaching assistants, indeed all our education workforce for their efforts in ensuring the best for the children of Wales.”
But Conservative education spokesman Darren Millar said the picture seemed at odds with the recent “disastrous” Pisa results and Estyn report.
“The Welsh Labour-led government must explain why the ratings they have published are so out of kilter with the independent assessments of performance undertaken by Pisa and Estyn.”