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School Categorisation

National School Categorisation


The Christ the King Primary School is currently categorised by the Welsh Government as a 'Green' School.



Standards Group

Capacity for Improvement

Overall Category

Christ the King Catholic Primary School





What is the National School Categorisation system?

The system applies to every school in Wales and was designed as a universal way of identifying which schools need the most support to improve. It is not designed as any kind of league table...but of course in reality, the public, the media and parents will often see it like that.


The system groups primary and secondary schools into one of four colour-coded categories: Green, Yellow, Amber and Red.


What does each category mean?

The categorisation colour shows the level of support a school needs – schools in the green category need the least support and those in the red category need the most intensive support. All schools face a unique set of challenges. It’s so important to pupils, parents, teachers, schools and their communities that we don’t use terms like ‘best’ and ‘worst’.


What the category means


A highly effective school which is well run, has strong leadership and is clear about its priorities for improvement


An effective school which is already doing well and knows the areas it needs to improve.


A school in need of improvement which needs help to identify the steps to improve or to make change happen more quickly.


A school in need of greatest improvement and will receive immediate, intensive support.



Each school will receive a tailored programme of support, challenge and intervention based on its category.


Green – Highly Effective Schools

  • Have a track record in sustaining a high level of outcomes

  • Know themselves well, identify & implement priorities

  • Demonstrate resilience at all levels

  • Are rewarded with greater autonomy

  • Will be challenged to move forward or sustain excellence

  • Have the capacity to lead & contribute to support for other schools

  • Green schools will receive up to 4 days of challenge adviser support per year.


Yellow – Effective Schools

  • Have secured good levels of outcomes in key indicators

  • Know & act to address areas in need of improvement

  • Many aspects of their performance are self-improving

  • Seek tailored challenge & support and deploy this

  • Yellow schools will receive up to 10 days of challenge adviser support per year.


Amber – In Need of Improvement

  • Often do not know and understand areas in need of improvement

  • Have many aspects which are not improving quickly enough

  • Will receive tailored challenge & intervention

  • Will have their improvement plan approved

  • Will be expected to require amber support for a short term

  • Will receive time-limited intervention

  • Amber schools will receive up to 15 days of challenge adviser support per year.


Red – In Need of Greatest Improvement

  • Are experiencing a decline in key aspects of performance

  • Will receive intensive support

  • Will automatically receive a letter from their local authority

  • Will be subject to intervention

  • Will have a more directed approach

  • Red schools will receive up to 25 days of challenge adviser support per year.


How are categories selected?

In 2016, a number of changes were made to how schools are categorised. This decision is now reached through the production and review of the school's Categorisation Report which takes into account the school's perfromance and attendance data. This review and Report will be written in partnership with the school's challenge advisor (for Red - Yellow Schools) or amongst a Peer Group of senior leaders from highly performing schools (for Green & some Yellow Schools).


The outcome of the review will be a score for the school's Capacity to Improve which will be A, B, C or D and a colour Red, Amber, Yellow or Green. This judgement is subject to agreement by the Education Achievement Service, Local Authority and National Verification.

What are challenge advisers – and what do they do?

Challenge advisers are employed by the regional education consortia for school improvement. Typically former or current head teachers, they work with individual schools to produce and monitor bespoke improvement plans. From there, they provide support and guidance on how best to drive classroom change.


But isn’t it just naming and shaming schools?

The Welsh Government maintains that national school categorisation is not about labeling schools or creating league tables. They say it is about helping schools identify what factors contribute to their progress and achievement – and what areas they need to focus on to achieve further development.


When and where are support categories published?

Information about each school’s support category is made available to parents every January.



There’s a huge commentary here around changes in colour / categorisation. Schools should generally have rigorous strategies and systems for monitoring progress and attainment for every child. However, sometimes children come to a school with learning needs which, even with the best support available, can stop them from attaining national expectations and this will have an impact on performance data. Crudely, if you don’t understand how schools are measured and categorised, this could look like the school didn’t try as hard one year or that, in another year, teachers really pulled their fingers out! So many factors affect pupil performance data, including numbers of pupils with additional language needs, special educational needs, Free School Meal entitlement etc.The categorisation system is about targeting support most appropriately, it’s important to understand that a move from Green to Yellow for example, isn’t the start of the school’s decline or a sign that teachers and pupils just need to work harder.