Monthly Archives: Rhagfyr 2012

A Mishmash of Confusing Information

Well, I’m as surprised as the next person that the schools banding exercise has come about again. I’d been under the impression that it would be done every four years or so, but I suppose the data come out every year so there’s no reason for sticking with old data.

And Ysgol Bro Morgannwg will be thanking their lucky stars, because if last year’s generosity was anything to go by, their rapid slide down the rankings is compensated by a whopping £10,000. Because they’ve shot from hero to zero in 11 short months, from the Vale’s only Band 1 school to one of the Vale’s only Band 4 schools! What precipitated this fall from grace?

Dipping deep into the stats we see that although the school’s performance received the top rating, their rating against the proportion of pupils in receipt of free school meals was poor. Put simply, because relatively few pupils (6.8%) come from poor families, Ysgol Bro Morgannwg should do better in Welsh/English and Maths.

How did the other Schools for Penarth fare?

St. Cyres remained in Band 3, with ‘good progress’ in performance between 2010 and 2012.

St. Richard Gwyn Catholic High School got an almost clean sweep of ‘top quarter’ results in its scintillating promotion to Band 1 status. In fact, it came joint second of all the schools in Wales, which must have the staff and pupils feeling pretty chuffed.

Joining St. Richard Gwyn in Band 1 was Stanwell School.

In other Vale news:

  • Llantwit Major Comp remains in Band 4
  • Barry Comp rises to Band 3, joining Bryn Hafren (relegated from Band 2)
  • Cowbridge Comp stays in Band 2

I’ll repeat something I said back here in relation to the banding exercise:

the process is evidently imperfect, and the Welsh Government has conceded that most of the flaws raised by MC are valid. We live in an imperfect world, so my advice to the teaching profession is to continue doing what you’ve always done – teach to the best of your ability. Every child counts…. So for the time being I’ll go along with the Welsh Government’s approach to avoid league tables but stick with some element of comparison through school banding.

But I confess to feeling less generous about the banding approach now than I was earlier in the year. That’s partly because of the conversation I had with the Welsh Government and MC. It’s also partly because the response of teaching unions has been almost universal opprobrium.

But it’s also because of another factor that popped into my head. Even if all schools improve, there will still be schools in Band 5 because the bandings are made on a comparative basis: schools are compared against each other, rather than against desirable standards. To put it another way, if every child in every school in Wales got a clean sweep of A* results at GCSE year after year after year, you’d still get a bunch of schools in Band 5.

If improvement of educational standards is about anything, it’s about absolute improvement, not relative improvement. So while I have no problem with the metrics the Welsh Governments uses, I no longer support the process of placing schools in bands based on relative performance. If banding is used, it should be used to denote measures of absolute performance. That way, as time goes by, the Welsh public will get a genuine measure of whether or not educational standards are improving.

As it stands, all we’re getting is a mishmash of confusing information.

As a final note, to tie today’s discussion in to this recent one, the latest Estyn report (2009) for Ysgol Bro Morgannwg notes that:

All pupils speak Welsh as a first language or to an equivalent standard within the school.

That doesn’t exactly tally with the statistical conclusion I came to that 76% of pupils end up classifying themselves as bilingual in the census.

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Rhowch sylw

Filed under Education, Schools, Vale of Glamorgan Council, Welsh Government

Cogan to Become an Air Quality Management Area

It’s official – Cogan is to become an Air Quality Management Area.

This decision is not before time. I pointed out here that the air pollution in Cogan has been beyond European legal limits since at least 2006:

What on earth is going on here? What have the people of Windsor Road done to deserve such negligence? The Vale’s forecasting and reporting has been chronically optimistic year after year after year after year after year afteryear after year, and the pollution load – particularly at the 154 Windsor Road station – has consistently breached European limits set down in the Ambient Air Quality Directive. And the Vale Council has done absolutely nothing to remedy the situation.

I even went as far as to ask the Welsh Government why no action had been taken – you can see their response and my analysis here:

I don’t very much care for the idea of Penarth taxpayers shelling out their share of millions of pounds in European Commission fines for the Vale’s failure to take air pollution seriously. But I care even less for the idea that the residents of Cogan are being subject to illegal pollution loadings year after year after year because councillors in the Vale haven’t had the gumption to confess there’s a problem. Perhaps the time has come for a complaint to the European Commission?

Those of you who are sharp-eyed will also have seen something of interest in this post:

And perhaps unlike the thrusting, letter-writing, 4×4-driving upper echelons of Penarth, some of the residents of polluted Cogan are just too busy figuring out a way to make ends meet to bother kicking up a fuss or getting political parties excited in their issues. Perhaps the idea of sending off a complaint to the European Commission over their horrendous air quality is just a bit daunting. [Note to Cogan residents – someone’s already done that on your behalf].

For information – there’s no news on the European complaint as yet.

I said at the start of this article that Cogan is to become an Air Quality Management Area. I based that on recommendation 5.4 in the Detailed Assessment dated May 2012:

It is therefore recommended that an AQMA is declared to include, as a minimum, those residential properties with concentrations above 36 µg/m3.

But I’m puzzled. Because I’ve seen no official Vale announcement to that effect, and neither has Defra.

Why on earth would an authority be sitting on a recommendation for 7 months that something ought to be done to improve public health by controlling air pollution?

Perhaps that’s a question that Councillor Neil Moore, who has Cabinet responsibility for environmental health and pollution, and who sits on Environmental Protection UK, should answer. Anything less than swift action on this must call into question both his leadership and Labour’s commitment to the long, long-suffering people of Cogan.

3 Sylw

Filed under Cogan, Labour, Pollution, Vale of Glamorgan Council

In-migration to the Vale

I’d been planning on posting something about migration to and from the Vale since June, after I found this site. But the timing on this is particularly relevant – and for bloggers interested in areas that have suffered decreases in bilinguals, it would be worth doing a much more detailed analysis than the  treatment I’m going to give, which extrapolates from only one year’s data.

For the year ending June 2011, a total of 4,400 people  from elsewhere in Wales or from England moved into the Vale of Glamorgan (balanced by 4,400 emigrants). Given that the population on census night (27 March 2011) was 126,300, the in-migrants represent 3.5% of the population. Or to put it another way, we’ll all be replaced by in-migrants in 28.7 years’ time. Terrifying!

But from whence came these intruders?! The answers are revealed here  (places in England are emboldened in the lists for ease of reference):

  • Cardiff – 36.0%
  • Rhondda Cynon Taf – 6.6%
  • Bridgend – 6.4%
  • Swansea – 4.1%
  • Caerphilly – 2.0%
  • Newport – 1.6%
  • Carmarthenshire – 1.4%
  • Neath Port Talbot – 1.4%
  • Pembrokeshire – 1.1%
  • Birmingham – 1.1%
  • Bristol – 1.1%

And fewer than 50 migrants (less than 1% each) came from:

  • Plymouth 
  • Monmouthshire
  • Ceredigion
  • Torfaen
  • Wiltshire
  • Oxford
  • Cornwall
  • Herefordshire
  • Bath and North East Somerset
  • Manchester
  • South Gloucestershire
  • Liverpool
  • Powys
  • Merthyr Tudful
  • Torbay
  • Blaenau Gwent
  • Leeds
  • Southampton
  • Haringey
  • Cheshire West and Chester
  • Exeter

10 migrants each came from a whole bunch of other places.

If we add up the proportion of in-migrants coming from elsewhere within Wales, we find that 64.4% of in-migrants come from Wales, with more than half of those being our friends in Cardiff. Welcome all!

There’s a point here about these statistics. They tell us very little about nationality and bilingualism in and of themselves because they focus on domicile. So it could be the case that each of the 4,400 moving to the Vale is bilingual and all of them Welsh. But that’s a statistical improbability.

Statistics aren’t gathered on Welsh language ability the other side of the border, so we have no way of knowing the proportion of people living in Birmingham who are Welsh speaking. But on the basis of probability, it’s likely that the vast proportion of them are not (bilingual students returning to Wales notwithstanding). So we can assume that most of the 1,566 people moving to the Vale from across the border do not speak Welsh. I’m going to say that just 1% of them do – so that’s 16 per year.

I’ve done some calculations on the likely proportion of those moving to the Vale from elsewhere in Wales who are bilingual. Of the 2,820 of these people, 349 of them are likely to be bilingual (number from each local authority multiplied by the proportion in that authority who are bilingual). Doing the same for the 4,400 people leaving the Vale in the same year gives 475 bilinguals leaving, for a net loss of 90 (including the 16 bilinguals coming from England).

If we assume that the year ending in June 2011 was unexceptional, and that patterns were relatively similar for the previous 9 years, then we can see that the Vale has actually generated a net total of 20 plus 90 bilinguals each year (the actual increase in bilinguals, plus the exported bilinguals minus the imported bilinguals), for a total of 110 per year. But there’s more.

Some bilinguals will die over the course of the year. Nothing’s easy in this world, and apportioning the mortality rate to the Vale of Glamorgan is no exception because the only statistics available apply to EnglandandWales. So the population of that entity is 56,077,000, the population of the Vale is 126,300, and 493,242 people died in 2010. That leaves a pro rata number of deaths for the Vale of 1,111, of whom 120 would have been bilingual.

That leaves the gross total of new bilinguals to be 230 each year.

I’ve found it difficult to find out how many pupils there are in Ysgol Bro Morgannwg per school year, but with the information that 43% of pupils equals 126, the sum total is 293.

I’m assuming that each year a few adult learners feel confident enough about their improvement in Welsh to classify them as able to speak the language. That leaves about 70 or so pupils going through Welsh medium education who fail to reach the level of fluency necessary to consider themselves as bilingual, for an attrition rate of 24%. Put another way, of all the annual increase in new bilinguals in the Vale, Welsh language primaries and Ysgol Bro Morgannwg are responsible for around 223 of 595, or 37%.

Some of these will have come from bilingual/Welsh language households in any case. But that certainly seems to be a substantial contribution to home-grown bilinguals.

I’d be interested to see whether or not Ysgol Bro Morgannwg would agree with this analysis.

2 Sylw

Filed under Education, Vale of Glamorgan Council

Welsh in the Vale

It’s common knowledge by now that the Vale of Glamorgan is one of only four local authorities in Wales to register an increase in numbers of those speaking Welsh between 2001 and 2011 (you can grab hold of tonnes of data from this site, although if you want a relatively handy series of maps and graphs you might like to try the Welsh Government’s statistics publication). Over the ten year period, the numbers increased from 12,994 to 13,189, a total of 195. However, as a result of an increase in population in the Vale, the overall percentage of bilinguals has decreased – from 11.3% to 10.8%.

We can be thankful that the number of bilinguals in the Vale is increasing, although at less than 20 per year it’s hardly stellar progress. But it would seem unavoidable that as time goes by that number will increase by a greater amount. And here’s the evidence, in the form of the proportion of each age group speaking Welsh:

  • 3-4      – 16.7%
  • 5-9      – 28.5%
  • 10-14 – 35.0%
  • 15-19 – 23.3%
  • 20-24 – 10.6%
  • 25-29 –   8.7%
  • 30-34 –   8.5%
  • 35-39 –    7.8%
  • 40-44 –  6.5%
  • 45-49 –  6.0%
  • 50-54 –  5.0%
  • 55-59 –  4.8%
  • 60-64 – 4.4%
  • 65-69 –  5.2%
  • 70-74 –  5.0%
  • 75-79 –  4.2%
  • 80-84 – 4.4%
  • 85+     –  5.6%
  • Total – 10.8%

Now, we’d expect some attrition of bilinguals in their young twenties for a period of time, not least because bilingual education in the Vale is a strong indicator of educational attainment, so these bright young things will move away from the Vale to find their fame and fortune in the bright lights of Cardiff, Llanelli and who knows, even beyond!

But some of the pupils in receipt of bilingual education will find that living in the Vale suits them just fine and will remain, slowly bolstering the proportion of bilinguals in successive years. And that’s exactly the pattern we see in these statistics, because the proportion of those who speak Welsh of ages 25-39 is some way above those in the older categories, when Welsh medium education was either non-existent, or was only available by virtue of a commute to Glantaf.

The proof of the pudding? Have a look at the stats in 2022 and make comments on this post! The only caveat is in relation to the increase in population. Large new housing developments will lead to in-migration of people who will almost exclusively not be Welsh-speaking. An additional 45,400 dwellings in Cardiff is hardly likely to strengthen the performance of that county’s Welsh language stats.

But where does the Vale sit in the Welsh scheme of things?

It might be difficult to believe, but that small increase in total bilinguals has enabled the Vale to leapfrog both Bridgend and Newport, leaving the Vale in 16th place for total numbers of people able to speak Welsh. And it just so happens that we’re in 16th place in the league table for proportion of people speaking Welsh.

I’ll leave the discussion as to the wider impacts of the Wales-wide decrease in bilingualism to the specialists. But it’s good to see that here in the Vale we’ve bucked the trend. By 19.5 people per year.

3 Sylw

Filed under Education, Vale of Glamorgan Council, Welsh Government

Penblwydd Hapus Penarth a’r Byd!

Well it’s been a year since Penarth a’r Byd came into existence. I should pay testament to town councillor Janice Birch, and ex-councillors John Fraser, Jennifer Baker, Kenneth Land and Sophie Williams, for spurring me into action with behaviour such that

the councillors were an embarrassment to Penarth

Perhaps these jumped-up councillors have spent too long watching Westminster Committees chewing up News of the World media barons and fancied a pop at some witnesses of their own. Just for you, councillors, here’s my take on the situation.

These students did Penarth a wonderful service. They bestowed on us a wonderful gift that you shoved back in their faces. One of the students travelled from Spain just to be in Penarth Town Council on 3 November. The behaviour of our elected representatives was so reprehensible that at least two people I know of are considering standing against you in May’s elections as a result – so at least there’s one silver lining to this miserable story.

But what a year we’ve had!

Two glorious sets of elections – goodness, three actually, and various other political intrigue to get involved with.

From the point of view of Penarth a’r Byd, the blog has exceeded all expectations. Since the first post, we’ve racked up 8,876 hits. I’m tempted to think that shows there’s a market for independent analysis of the political situation in Penarth – analysis that could be replicated in every community the length and breadth of Wales.

Just for fun, I thought it would be worth posting a few stats from the site. So here are the top 10 posts:

  1. Predictions for 3 May 2012
  2. An irresistible offer
  3. Candidates 2012
  4. Penarth a’r Byd
  5. Announcing Penarth’s new MP
  6. Your local party
  7. Buttrills 2012
  8. A disastrous appointment and the democratic deficit
  9. Schools for Penarth
  10. New voices for Penarth

And since late February this year (ask WordPress why they won’t give all-time stats on this one), the overwhelming majority of hits have come from the UK. But there are some outliers, indicating that the Penarth diaspora has spread far and wide:

  1. UK – 7,601
  2. USA – 471
  3. Canada – 125
  4. Bosnia and Herzegovina – 61
  5. Norway – 55
  6. Malaysia – 46
  7. Denmark – 20
  8. Australia – 20
  9. India – 16
  10. Poland – 16
  11. UAE – 11
  12. Estonia – 10
  13. France – 10
  14. Germany – 10
  15. Philippines – 10
  16. 37 other countries with 9 or fewer views

I wouldn’t be at all surprised if there are fewer hits in 2013, since the biggest factor driving interest (and articles!) is elections. But it’s time to roll up the sleeves and see whether or not there aren’t a few more juicy articles worth putting pen to paper about. And I might just already have one or two in store…

1 Sylw

Filed under Democracy, Penarth Town Council