DESPITE improving faster than Wales as a whole, Blaenau Gwent’s educational performance is still lagging behind all other Welsh counties for years 3 to 6, according to a report which will go before the council’s executive tomorrow.

The report, by interim director of education Trevor Guy, is a provisional summary of this year’s performance by pupils in the Foundation Phase, key stage two (years 3 to 6) and key stage three (years 7 to 9), based on moderated teacher assessments, national reading and numeracy test results, and provisional GCSE and A-level results.

In the Foundation Phase, for the youngest school children, 83.4 per cent of pupils met set targets, up from 81.2 per cent last year, but Blaenau Gwent’s ranking actually dropped two places in that time, putting it at 19th out of 22 local authorities.

In years 3 to 6, at the upper end of primary school, 83.8 per cent of pupils hit core targets, up from 80.1 per cent last year – but Blaenau Gwent remains bottom of the pile in Wales “due to an increase in performance” across the rest of the country.

“On all indicators, performance improved at a faster rate than that for Wales, so reducing the gap in performance,” said the report. For children in years 7 to 9, “there have been significant gains” in pupils hitting expected targets and 76.4 per cent of pupils hit their core targets, up from 64.5 per cent in 2013.

Blaenau Gwent is ranked 20th out of 22 Welsh authorities, rising two places. “There was also a significant increase in performance across Wales, but even so, Blaenau Gwent has now moved from 22nd to 20th in Wales.”

For the recently introduced national reading and numeracy tests, Blaenau Gwent performed “relatively poorly”. “This emphasises the need to focus even more closely on core skills,” the report added.

GCSE performance was up on last year with those achieving five or more A*-C grades including English and maths, up 2.5 percentage points to 41.2 per cent, surpassing 40 per cent for the first time. A “significant increase” in achieving five or more A*-C grades, was up 8.5 percentage points to 68.5 per cent, while those getting five pass grades topped 90 per cent for the first time.

The meeting takes place at Ebbw Vale’s Civic Centre at 11am tomorrow morning.