Plaid Cymru councillors have called on Labour to spell out how it plans to help improve standards at schools in the Caerphilly County Borough, prompting a furious response from the ruling group.
The call comes after the Welsh Government’s colour coding system showed that 11 of the area’s 14 secondary schools were in need of improvement, with St Cenydd, St Martin’s and Heolddu in need of greater improvement.
Twelve of the county borough’s primary schools were rated green, 45 yellow, 16 amber and two red.
Councillor Phil Bevan, Shadow Education spokesperson, said: “The Labour-controlled council needs to say what it is doing to support teachers and improve outcomes for pupils at our schools.
“We need to see an action plan on how improvement is to be achieved. We must ensure the education of our children is of the highest standard, whichever school they attend.
“It is also essential that parents are given information from their schools on how standards are to be improved, and we will be pursuing this.”
Cllr Colin Mann, leader of the Plaid Cymru group, said its councillors intended raising theissue at future meetings until a plan was produced.
He said: “The cabinet had the opportunity earlier this month to discuss school performance but merely nodded the report through. They need to spell out to parents what they are doing.”
Councillor Rhiannon Passmore, Cabinet Member for Education, said: “This is an absolutely spurious attack, I think it is meant to deflect attention from their disastrous budget proposals where they argued to increase the cost of meals on wheels to pay for a few grit bins.
“They’ve had every opportunity to put their views across at scrutiny meetings and Cllr Bevan has not done that to date.
“They are using this to score party political points.
“Estyn recorded that they think Caerphilly is making sound progress and is moving consistently in the right direction. The progress is profound and consistent.
“This is not an attack on the council and Labour, it is an attack on teachers across the county borough.”
The council has rejected claims that Caerphilly schools are sub-standard and Cllr Passmore said the categorisation has been misunderstood.
She said the “system is designed to identify the level of support individual schools require in order to become self improving and reflective”, starting by considering “the school’s own self evaluation processes and their capacity to improve”.
Cllr Passmore said: “We are ambitious for our schools and our pupils and it is important to stress that last year the rate of improvement in performance across Caerphilly schools was greater than across Wales for nearly all key performance measures. This is due to key processes being in place to provide support to our schools.
“Performance in the Level 2 threshold, inclusive of English/Welsh first language and mathematics, increased by 3.7% compared with an increase of 2.7% across Wales, whilst the proportion of pupils eligible for free school meals increased by 2.3% for this indicator, compared with 2.0% across Wales.”
But Cllr Mann said Cllr Passmore’s criticism of his party was “ill-judged”.
He said: “Cllr Passmore claimed that this party was trying to score party political points. All Plaid councillors were trying to do is to ask Labour to spell out its plans to improve standards at schools in the county borough.
“She is keener on having a go at the opposition than recognising the extremely poor bandings of the majority of Caerphilly County Borough Councils secondary schools. What is she doing to justify her position?”
A spokesperson for Caerphilly County Borough Council said: “Our schools continue to work closely with the Education Achievement Service and the Welsh Government to ensure that appropriate support is provided where needed.
“This collaborative approach will help raise standards and deliver clear benefits for all our pupils across the county borough.”