Byline: Simon Gaskell email@example.com
FEWER secondary schools in South Wales are in the lowest education performance band compared to last year, according to latest official data released by the Welsh Government.
Details of the second annual school banding results, which place Wales' 219 state secondary schools in one of five bands, were released yesterday.
Schools are placed according to a formula which takes account of factors like GCSE results, school attendance and how many pupils receive free school meals.
Last year, 20% of South Wales schools languished in Band Five, where "performance and progress are weak relative to other schools".
Yesterday, new results showed only 10 schools were in the lowest band - 13.5% of South Wales' schools.
However, there were also fewer schools placed in the "best-performing" Band One (8%).
Among those to have dropped bands was The Bishop Of Llandaff School in Cardiff, which went from Band One in 2011 to Band Three. It came after a drop in performance percentage points from 81.8 to 70.5.
And Treorchy Comprehensive School in Rhondda Cynon Taf also dropped from Band One to Band Three in the space of 12 months.
The relative fall came despite a glowing Estyn report back in May in which the education inspectorate rated the school's then-performance and prospects for improvement as "excellent".
Yesterday, headteacher Rhys Angell-Jones said Treorchy Comprehensive remained the same school seen by inspectors, but said he was driven to return to the top band.
He said: "That was some months ago, but I am still very pleased with that inspection report, and we are still that same school; in fact we are better because we've made more improvements in that time.
"What the banding system does is looks at the various sets of data and interprets them in ways organised by the Welsh Government.
"A lot of the scoring depends on improvement, but in areas where we already perform exceptionally well - attendance for example - making further improvements is a slowly but surely approach and the gains are relatively small.
"But I'm driven by the banding, as the Welsh Government wants schools to be, and we very much hope to continue improving to find ourselves back in Band One next year."
Among those schools which saw improvement was Glyn Derw High School, Caerau, Cardiff, which formed a federation with Michaelston Community College in a bid to improve results last summer.
It has since devoted half of its timetable to literacy and numeracy, and yesterday was shown to have leapt from Band Five to Band Three. …