Head's retiring gift sees school leap two bands

First published in Milford Mercury news

MILFORD Haven School has jumped up two grades - from four to two - in the latest banding system results released this week.

Schools with the best scores are in band one, while those that need to improve are placed in band five.

The controversial banding system was introduced last year and Milford Haven School was one of five schools to be placed in band four by the Welsh Government.

Headteacher Islwyn Morgan said the new band level was good for the school and deserved due to the hard work that staff and pupils had put in.

“Everybody’s worked very hard indeed and I’m delighted with that, I feel it’s a real springboard to move on from.

“Like all measures there are strengths and weaknesses to it [the banding system] but it does recognises issues such as deprivation, otherwise it would be schools in leafy, suburban areas coming out on top all the time,” he added.

Referring to recent reports published by Estyn and the Wales Audit Office Mr Morgan added: “Pembrokeshire is being slated, and yet, you have all the secondary schools in band three or above and I would pass my congratulations toall of them. I genuinely think parents have had an anxious time reading what they have in the press, but I think looking at the banding should reassure them of the standard that’s in our schools.”

Pembrokeshire’s only school to be placed in band one last year, Ysgol y Preseli, dropped to band two, while the majority of county schools improved and, again, none had been placed in the lowest band.

Councillor Huw George, cabinet member for education and Welsh language, said he was delighted with the progress made by Pembrokeshire secondary schools.

“We congratulate all our schools on their success and are pleased that all our schools are in Band 2 or 3 which is very encouraging,”

he added.

Education minister Leighton Andrews said that the results across Wales showed an “encouraging improvement”.

Education unions have criticised the system, saying it gave a misleading and confusing picture of performance for parents.

THE huge improvement in Milford School’s banding level comes as headteacher Islwyn Morgan gets ready to retire at the end of this week.

Mr Morgan, who has been headteacher for five years, will say goodbye to staff and pupils today, Friday (December 21).

He will be replaced by Rod Francis, from Swansea, in January.

Mr Morgan, who was also deputy head of the school for a period in 2001, said he was hoping for a “nice, restful January” before deciding what his future plans were.

He does have the Lions rugby tour in Australia to look forward to next summer.

“I would like to thank all of the community in Milford, they have always supported us. The students and staff have been fantastic. I will miss it greatly, I’ve loved my time here.

“I’ve enjoyed working with my headteacher colleagues and know many able and talented teachers in Pembrokeshire and we need to celebrate them,” added Mr Morgan.

Mr Morgan said he would maintain his links with Milford Haven with visits to the school and to community events.

Cllr Huw George said: “Islwyn has been a good leader and is well thought of throughout the school and in the community. His parting gift is leaving the school in band two which reflects significant progress. We wish him well in his retirement.”

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