The report includes the following findings:
* The authority's work in improving provision for numeracy is of very good quality. It has already made an impact in improving pupils' attitudes to mathematics and raising the standards that they achieve.
* The authority's work in raising standards and improving the quality of provision in numeracy is very well led and managed. The various plans and strategies for raising standards in numeracy have been implemented effectively. The work is monitored and evaluated well at all levels.
* The LEA has recently introduced some initiatives designed to help teachers in key stage 3 to build more effectively on the work done with pupils in earlier key stages.
These initiatives need to be developed further.
The key issues facing the LEA with regard to its work in helping schools to raise standards of numeracy are to:
* maintain and continue to develop its existing successful initiatives aimed at raising standards and improving the quality of provision in numeracy;
* develop further initiatives to ensure that the provision for numeracy work in key stage 3 builds effectively on pupils' experience in earlier key stages;
* improve the evaluation of family numeracy projects so that it matches the good quality of evaluation of the LEA's other work in numeracy.
Chief inspector of education and training in Wales, Susan Lewis, commented:
'This is a very encouraging report. It shows that Newport LEA has achieved a great deal of success in raising standards of numeracy. It inspires confidence that the LEA will continue to provide support of the highest quality for those who work in its schools.'
A press release from the local authority follows:
Gold star for Newport's numeracy work
Newport LEA's numeracy strategy has gained top marks from HM inspectors of education and training.
During an inspection involving both a detailed look at the education department's work and impact in a selection of Newport schools, inspectors concluded that the council's work improving provision for numeracy was of 'very good quality'.
Councillor Ernie Watkins, cabinet member for life long learning said:
'The report is genuinely outstanding. It is littered with 'very goods' - the highest possible judgement that Estyn can give of standards and quality. I believe it is an accurate and well deserved report. Truly this report reflects a great strength
Susan Lewis, chief inspector of schools said:
'This is a very encouraging report. It shows that Newport LEA has achieved a great deal of success in raising standards of numeracy. It inspires confidence that the LEA will continue to provide support of the highest quality for those who work in
Mererid Stone, adviser for mathematics said:
'It is a privilege to work with heads and teachers from Newport schools. The progress that has been made reflects their professionalism, hard work and commitment to their pupils.'
Newport LEA has a five year strategy for the improvement of numeracy amongst the town's children. The inspectors found that this strategy appropriately balances wide ranging support for all schools with intensive, targeted support for a selection
of schools in more deprived parts of Newport. The report states that Newport's approach was having a positive impact in local schools. Standards have been successfully raised with children gaining above Welsh average for key stage 1 and key
stage 4 results, with results catching up at key stage 2.
The Adviser for Mathematics is described in the report as providing 'particularly effective leadership.'
The inspectors praised the LEA for the way in which it analyses and presents data enabling schools to compare their own performance with other schools in similar circumstances. They were pleased that the information gathered and its analysis
was used to 'devise strategies to improve the quality of provision and standards achieved.' and that the information is used, as part of a rigorous and effective target setting process.
The inspection report said:
'The authority's work in raising standards and improving the quality of provision in numeracy is very well led and managed.
Good quality leadership is provided at appropriate levels by the mathematics team, the director and head of service and among elected members by the Education Service Leader and his deputy' (now cabinet member).
Ernie Watkins said:
'Newport has a very proactive team of advisers who make regular visits to all schools in the county borough. This means that along with analysis of data, they know our schools extremely well and so can set appropriate targets and identify
schools who may benefit from additional support. By setting challenging targets, the LEA is able to ensure that pupils make good progress.'
The inspectors highlight the in-service training for teachers and say that 'without exception, schools have a very high regard for the quality of the training and advice they receive for mathematics. The demonstration lessons they observed and
the wider training provided by the advisory teacher are also praised as being 'excellent.'
The inspection report says that the plans and strategies are implemented effectively through various initiatives including the LEAs Number Recovery programme, the training of classroom assistants, the use of ICT, work with parents, encouragement
of schools to gain the Basic Skills Agency Quality Mark and links with business.
Doctor Norbury, head of school improvement said:
'We appreciate the quality of the Estyn inspection team and their processes.'
'As a result of the LEAs strategy, many of our pupils are now better able to master maths - which is good news for our youngsters and good news for Newport's future. But, we are not complacent - there are improvements which can be made and we
will continue to develop our Key Stage 3 work.'
Estyn conducted the inspection of Newport's role as an LEA in raising standards of numeracy between June and December 2000.
The detailed inspection included visits to 14 schools in Newport, examination of documents and discussions with officers and councillors from the LEA.