Two reports on Pembrokeshire Council's education services were published yesterday and were the lead item on the news last night.
The main cause of concern—and rightly so—has been the county's failure to adequately respond to the child safeguarding issues that had been raised previously. However the Estyn report found that there were more widespread failings and recommended that the education department be put under special measures. The BBC listed the shortcomings as:
• Performance in primary schools does not compare well to that of similar schools in other councils across Wales
• Although attendance has improved, too many primaries are in the lower half in comparison with others on free school meals benchmarks
• Arrangements for supporting and challenging schools are not robust enough and have not had enough impact on improving outcomes
• It has not made enough progress in the management and governance of safeguarding children "by embedding the changes" made to practices
• It is responding too slowly to the increasing level of surplus places in the secondary sector
But reading through the report itself, I noticed that one other important shortcoming had not been reported by the BBC:
The authority continues to forecast pupil numbers accurately for both primary and secondary schools. However, as it does not measure demand for Welsh-medium education or have alternative methods to gather that information, the authority does not know the true level of need. Without that knowledge, it cannot plan effectively to ensure sufficient capacity. This is an important shortcoming.
It wasn't mentioned in the BBC's Welsh version of the story either. I certainly wouldn't claim that this is the most important of the local authority's shortcomings, but it is surely important enough to have been included in the BBC's list.