A report by the Local Government Data Unit Wales on councils’ performance shows that in 2012/13, for the seventh successive academic year, there has been a fall in the percentage of students leaving school with no qualifications.
Last year, 0.4 per cent of all children leaving compulsory education aged 15 or 16 who did not go on to full-time education, training or work-based learning did so without a recognised qualification. In 2005/06, that figure stood at
2.3 per cent.
For children in care, 5.7 per cent of children left without a recognised qualification compared to 3.5 per cent in 2011/12.
Over the same period, the percentage of pupils assessed at the end of key stage 3 achieving the Core Subject Indicator increased from 68.1 to 72.7 per cent. This ranged from 83 per cent in Gwynedd to 61.5 per cent in Blaenau Gwent.
Across Wales, 51 per cent of pupils achieved the Level 2 threshold, including a GCSE grade A* to C in English or Welsh first language and mathematics. This ranged from 61 per cent in Powys to 32 per cent in Merthyr Tydfil.
The good news will come as a welcome relief after a report by a Cardiff University academic concluded that pupils in England could read better than those in Wales, with the gap widening as the pupils got older.
Professor Chris Taylor, from the Wales Institute of Social and Economic Research, Data and Methods, found that while children in England and Wales score equally in assessments on their numeracy and non-verbal reasoning, the gap in literacy levels between the countries increases as children grow up.
The Welsh government said new reading and numeracy tests taken by pupils in May would inform discussions on improving standards across the board. It said its Literacy and Numeracy Framework would set out what was expected from learners aged five to 14.
Anna Brychan, director of the National Association of Head Teachers Cymru, said: “If regional differences are found to be a significant factor, it will show yet again how variable the quality of support is for schools across Wales.
“Dealing with that is the most pressing priority for Welsh government now.”