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EAS Statement on National Categorisation
The Welsh Government has today published the outcomes of the national categorisation system for primary and secondary schools.
The purpose of the national categorisation system is to ensure that the right support is provided to schools that need the most help and guidance. The system is also designed to enable schools to learn from each other and to share effective practice. 
There are three steps in the national categorisation system.  At step one the Welsh Government uses a range of performance data to place each school in a standards group from 1 to 4. Then, starting from the school’s own self-evaluation of what they do well and what they need to improve further, challenge advisers will have discussed with each school their current capacity to improve taking account of evidence about standards, leadership, teaching and learning.  Step two is the result of this discussion and leads to a judgement about improvement capacity from A-D. 
At step three, the challenge adviser will have agreed with each school its support category which is colour coded green, yellow, amber or red.  This is to ensure that the use of resources is planned effectively and directed at where the need is greatest.
The Minister for Education and Skills has made it clear that he wants to reduce the link between low educational attainment and poverty. Following the outcomes of step 2 and 3 received from consortia, a process of national moderation was put in place for those primary schools that were outside the matrix and the secondary schools which fell below 27.2% and judged to be either A, B or Green. The process of primary moderation has been completed.
However as part of the moderation meeting the Minister made it clear that no secondary school that fell below the 27.2% weighted average, would be judged higher than C at step 2 or above a yellow support category. Affected Schools have been made aware of this decision.
In the SE Wales Consortium the EAS carried out a rigorous process of categorisation with all schools in the region during October to December last year. We reached agreement with all of our schools and Local Authorities on the step 2 and 3 categories and submitted these to Welsh Government. Across the SE Wales region as a whole, there are 40 primary schools in the green support category, 99 in the yellow, 50 in the amber and 10 in the red support category. In the secondary sector, there are 3 schools in the green support category, 10 in yellow, 19 in amber and 5 in red.
As part of the national moderation process we agreed all of the 199 primary schools but had 3 of the 37 secondary schools step 2 categories challenged, as the schools fell slightly below the 27.2 weighted average for eFSM. In total, none of the 236 schools in the EAS region had their overall category of support changed from that which was agreed with the schools.  
The focus of the EAS’s work with schools, both during and since the categorisation process, has been on the bespoke support the school gets as a result of the agreed judgements. A key part of this strategy is enabling and supporting school partnerships where the best practice in all schools is shared through strong collaboration.
As this first year of the national categorisation system is a pilot, the Welsh Government will be working closely with the regional consortia and with schools to review the process and to refine it further where necessary. The EAS welcome this opportunity to further refine the improvement strategy.
Further details concerning the national categorisation process can be found by following this link http://wales.gov.uk/topics/educationandskills/schoolshome/raisingstandards/schoolbanding/?lang=en

Steve Davies
Managing Director EAS
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