The first is a general appraisal of education provision across the county, and the second is a report on Ysgol Gyfun Emlyn, one of the authority's 14 secondary schools.
The first thing to say is that it is very hard indeed to reconcile the positive picture painted by the first report with the damning verdict delivered in the second.
Estyn uses a 4-point grading system (excellent-good-adequate-unsatisfactory), and against nearly all of the criteria assessed, the County is rated "good", with an overall rating of "good".
The report finds that performance at all of the key stages has improved in recent years, and that the percentage of school leavers without a qualification is among the lowest in Wales. It claims that support for additional learning and social inclusion is good; the Modernising Education Programme is praised; and County Hall managed to persuade the inspectors that they understand that education is influenced by "the impact of wider regeneration and social care".
Whatever that last point means is not explained, but no doubt County Hall will be very pleased to hear this endorsement of their wider policies of outsourcing and prestige development projects.
Estyn is also a big fan of the council's Modernising Education Programme, which involves the closure of large numbers of village schools to eliminate spare places, and its controversial reorganisation of secondary education, which includes the planned closure of the secondary school in Llandovery.
As we know, huge sums are being pumped into new schools in parts of the county, but the report states enigmatically,
However, the authority has not analysed systematically enough the benefits arising from its investment in terms of improving the condition, suitability and efficiency of its schools.
Again, Estyn does not explain what it means.
In another note of criticism, the report states,
The authority and its schools have, in the past, spent too little on the routine repair and maintenance of school buildings. Current financial planning does not address adequately the need to ensure that new school buildings are well maintained into the future so that they remain in good condition.
Despite this significant investment, the authority’s data shows that just over half of pupils are taught in buildings in need of further investment.
In plain English, the council is spending a great deal of money on school buildings in some places, but then neglecting ongoing maintenance (e.g. in one new primary school Cneifiwr knows, parts of the roof leak in heavy rain and there is inadequate drainage around the school buildings). And anyone familiar with the shabby state of many older buildings will be surprised to hear Estyn's claim that lack of repair and maintenance is a thing of the past.
As for support for additional learning and special educational needs, parents battling to get support for children with literacy problems, dyslexia, speech therapy and language skills will be surprised to hear that provision is "good". They will be even more baffled to read,
The authority has the second highest number of appeals to the Special Educational Needs Tribunal for Wales. It is working to reduce the percentage of pupils with statements of special educational needs, which is currently the third highest in Wales. This work includes piloting innovative work for the Welsh Government in assessing pupils’ additional needs and providing for them without going through statutory assessment.
In the case of one family I know, the "innovative work" which avoids statutory assessment means almost exactly what it says on the can: the parents' efforts to get support for their 9 year-old with serious reading and writing difficulties (very likely dyslexia) have been ignored for two years, and no assessment has been carried out.
As they have already discovered, fighting the system is time-consuming and complicated. As "pushy" parents, they intend to fight on, but it is obvious that for many children from more disadvantaged backgrounds, the dice are loaded against them from the start.
And so the report chunters on. Boxes are ticked, and backs are slapped.
Now let's move on to the second report dealing with Ysgol Gyfun Emlyn.
The school was last inspected in 2006, and the new report makes for very depressing reading. So much so, that you have to wonder what Estyn and the County Council's strategic visionaries and "senior leaders who work in a sophisticated way" have been doing for the last 6 years.
Unlike the council itself, the school is classed as "unsatisfactory" in several categories, and it is given an overall rating of unsatisfactory.
The school has 639 pupils, and the school roll is rising. It has a broad intake of children from a wide range of social backgrounds, and most of the teaching is through the medium of English.
The school budget for the school is currently £4,224 per pupil, compared with an average of £4,938 for the county as a whole. That average masks a huge variation in spend in secondary education, which goes from £7,322 at the top end down to £4,096.
Overall, the school is 10th out of 14 in terms of spending per pupil.
Later in the report, Estyn tells us that the school has been running a deficit for the last two years, and is anticipating a significant deficit for 2012-13. In Estyn's view, "taking into account the unsatisfactory standards, the school provides unsatisfactory value for money".
A more common sense finding would have been that the school is seriously under-funded. It has in fact been caught in an impossible dilemma of struggling to balance its books, partly by cutting provision and teacher numbers, while trying to meet demands to expand its curriculum. Estyn doesn't go into that sort of detail.
Anyone who knows the school will be aware that the main block is a shabby and depressing place. Estyn notes that the toilets and changing rooms are in a poor (i.e. truly terrible) state. The council will very belatedly get around to doing something about the toilets this summer, it says, after several years of delay and bumbling.
Alongside the main block is a new creative arts centre (partly funded by an external agency, I believe). No sooner had that been built than the council slashed its schools music programme, and pupils taking their Art A Levels last year were left without a teacher when a member of staff suffered an accident. Again, Estyn skims over this clear case of left hand, right hand.
Otherwise, you can search the council's Modernising Education Programme from top to bottom for spending on this school, and you will find that over a period of 20 years investment in the core of the school will be zero.
As for the school budget, the Governors have been arguing the case for some time that the school is under-funded, even according to the council's own funding criteria. They recently invited the council's Director of Education, Rob Sully, along to a meeting to set out their case, and claim that they were assured twice that he would attend.
Sadly it seems that he was far too busy, because after waiting in eager anticipation for the great man to arrive, it slowly dawned on the governors that their invitation had been wasted. No apology or explanation given.
In common with all other schools in the county, Ysgol Gyfun Emlyn has a Schools Improvement Officer, and it has been suggested that like Mr Sully, the trip out into the sticks is often just that bit too far. The author of this blog cannot verify that, although you can draw your own conclusions from the Estyn report.
The report also highlights the school's poor performance in literacy in English and Welsh, and it notes in particular the failure to build on the Welsh language abilities of children coming up from primary schools.
Despite this, Estyn is pleased to see that all pupils are entered for the full GCSE course in Welsh as a second language.
Somehow, though, it escaped Estyn's attention that a good many of the children taking Welsh as a second language are unable to use the language in any meaningful way, with vocabulary which extends no further than "Diolch" and "Rydw i'n hoffi coffi". Some of the "Welsh" classes consisted, at least until very recently, of watching videos in English or Welsh with English subtitles.
Elsewhere, the inspectors note in passing that sometimes pupils of higher ability are not sufficiently challenged.
On a positive note, it remains true that a good proportion of pupils from the school continue to go on to higher education, including to some of the best universities, although quite a few find that they have a mountain to climb when they get there compared with their contemporaries.
The school can also be proud of the many talented and successful young people it has taught over the years, but what emerges from the report is a system which has let down children who could have emerged from school with better grades and skills.
One of the other casualties of the report is the head, who is a very decent and likable man. He has been made to shoulder much of the blame, and is now leaving the school.
But as the first of Estyn's reports shows, no blame will attach to anyone in County Hall for the years of under-funding and neglect. That's Teflon for you.