Failing schools: 2 more councils

The schools watchdog Estyn says the quality of local authority education services for children and young people in Monmouthshire and Merthyr Tydfil is "unsafisfactory".

It is recommending both the authorities should be taken into special measures.

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Monmouthshire leader: Already working regionally

The leader of Monmouthshire County Council, Peter Fox, said today's Estyn report acknowledged schools there are still performing well, but could do better when deprivation is factored in, and that 'special measures' is a wide recommendation, which could include a range of approaches.

He told our Education Correspondent Joanna Simpson that the council is "already working with other authorities" on several education services, and is "already in discussions over how we can work in a more regional approach" over others.

Merthyr leader: Councils must keep 'big' education role

The leader of Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council, Brendan Toomey, said Estyn's damning report into Merthyr's education services came as no surprise, and the council has instigated a number of improvements.

He told Nick Powell that he doesn't think it's inevitable that education services will move away from councils' control, as "local authorities need to have a big part to play in the delivery of education services, for accountability reasons."

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Contrasting councils found to be failing children

Today two councils on different sides of the social spectrum have both been found to be failing their children.

Merthyr Tydil - an economically challenged area - and Monmouthshire - a more affluent part of the country - have both been recommended by the schools inspectorate Estyn to have immediate intervention for their education services.

Monmouthshire's education performance, given the low level of deprivation, was found to be "well below average" when compared to similar schools.

The number of pupils excluded from school is 'too high'. The authority does not support and challenge schools enough. Their prospect for improvement is considered 'unsatisfactory'.

In Merthyr Tydfil, at every stage, standards for pupils are "unsatisfactory." Exclusions are "too high", "too many" young people are not in education, employment or training and attendance at primary schools is "unacceptably low."

The council has not challenged underperformance and it has not responded well enough to past inspections dating back to 2004. This is also not expected to improve.

Education Minister: council education failures are "unacceptable"

There can be no doubt that these are very critical reports. The shortcomings identified are unacceptable and we will move swiftly to put arrangements in place to secure the necessary improvements.

The fact that both of these authorities have been found in need of special measures is a damning reflection.

Despite the differences in their demographic context and the challenges the authorities face both are judged to be unsatisfactory in their current performance and in their prospects for improvement.

I intend to intervene in both authorities in order to put the necessary arrangements and support in place to secure improvement as quickly as possible. I have a range of options.

I am considering the establishment of independent recovery boards to oversee the improvements needed, monitor progress made and provide accountability.

A further option I am considering is the handing over of some or all of the executive functions in relation to education services to another body.

I will provide a further update to Members outlining decisions and actions in the coming weeks.

– Leighton Andrews AM, Education Minister

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Monmouthshire County Council: 'We're already tackling Estyn's concerns'

This report is salutary reading and shows that we need to improve the education service for the children and young people in Monmouthshire.

Whilst our schools appear to do very well in national league tables, it is clear that we could be achieving even more, and standards should be higher.

We’ve already started to tackle the issues raised in the inspection and we have dealt with a number of the concerns that Estyn raise.

We have appointed a new Director to lead the education service who starts work with us soon, and in the meantime we have engaged a strong interim management team to lead the service and to tackle issues identified.

Whilst we do not underestimate the challenges ahead, we are confident that our education service will continue to improve.

– Cllr Peter Fox, Leader of Monmouthshire County Council

Estyn: Monmouthshire and Merthyr Tydfil councils face 'special measures'

The councils will now have to produce plans to show how they will tackle the issues in the reports

The schools inspectorate Estyn says the quality of local authority education services for children and young people in Monmouthshire and Merthyr Tydfil is "unsafisfactory".

It is recommending both should be taken into special measures.

The reports say the councils have not done enough to work out where they need to improve, and how best to help poor performing schools.

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