CONCERNS have been raised about the “slow progress” of secondary schools deemed at risk in Caerphilly county borough.

A report shows eight secondaries feature on a risk register, which is used by the council and the Education Achievement Service (EAS) to chart schools in need of improvement.

Schools are assessed by their current Estyn category, pupil outcomes, exclusions, attendance and its most recent national categorisation status, which places schools into colour-coded support categories – green, yellow, amber and red.

Labour councillor Wynne David, a member of the education for life scrutiny committee, said he was displeased with the performance at secondary level.

Speaking at a meeting on Thursday, Cllr David said: “We’re pleased in Caerphilly with our foundation and Key Stage 2 phase but certainly not of our secondary schools.

“There has been an improvement but it’s slow and it’s not to your satisfaction. Our secondary schools are performing worse than in other areas.”

Bedwas High School and Islwyn High are red – meaning they needed the most intensive support – with the former in special measures as of March 22.

The remaining secondaries – Cwmcarn High, Heolddu Comprehensive, Lewis Girls’ Comprehensive, Lewis School Pengam, the Glanynant Learning centre and Ysgol Gyfun Cwm Rhymni – are amber.

Four primary schools also feature on the risk register, with three red schools – Bryn Awel Primary, Llanfabon Infants and St James Primary – and an amber school, Upper Rhymney Primary.

But the meeting heard from Nikki Dargie, head teacher at St James, that they had recently moved out of Estyn monitoring.

The 3-18 Idris Davies School, which officially opened in April, was also given an amber banding.

Questions were asked about the value for money of the EAS, which is aimed at increasing educational standards across Gwent, with the committee calling for a greater emphasis on Caerphilly figures rather than a regional picture.

Several councillors also highlighted the intensive levels of support required at Islwyn High and Idris Davies School, two new schools built under the 21st Century Schools Programme.

Chief officer Keri Cole said that Islwyn High had received amber levels of support when it was first established on two sites.

“When the school went onto one site, several issues were identified which required urgent attention,” said Ms Cole.

“While we didn’t turn Idris Davies red, we did increase scrutiny around progress that the school was making, and that’s working incredible well.”

Ms Cole also called for a “sense of proportionality” with only two of the county borough’s 89 schools in statutory categories.

“Whilst we would agree that the rate of progress in secondary is not fast enough, at primary it is a very positive picture overall,” said Ms Cole.

“When a school, the EAS and the local authority work closely together, we see in some cases very rapid progress.”