The Education Minister has announced the setting-up of Independent Recovery Boards to take over failing education services in two councils. It follows critical reports into Merthyr Tydfil and Monmouthshire councils.
He now says that 'he can have no confidence that Merthyr will resolve these problems itself, even with support' and so its intervention board will take over the day-to-day running of the education service.
In Monmouth's case, the authority will continue to be responsible for the delivery of education services while the board oversees improvements and monitors progress.
The leader of Merthyr Tydfil council, Brendan Toomey, is defending how schools have been run since Labour regained control in May last year. However, he has promised to co-operate with the minister's decision to take the schools off the council. They'll probably be transferred to Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Since May, 2012, the new Labour led administration has wasted no time in meeting the challengehead on with regards to raising the education standards throughout Merthyr Tydfil. Our principal aim has been, and will continue to be, to provide the highest level of education for the young people of Merthyr Tydfil. We recognise that there are significant challenges ahead for all who work within our education services in order to raise standards of attainment and achievement for our children and young people.
The encouraging news is that we have many ‘green shoots’ and are clear about how to address the significant shortcomings. Already we have begun to implement our strategic plan and are beginning to see improvements. The Minister has announced that discussions now have to take place in order to agree on the most appropriate model to deliver the changes needed. I am happy to work withappropriate organisations to achieve this result.
– Cllr Brendan Toomey, Leader Merthyr Tydfil County Borough Council
Plaid Cymru's education spokesperson, Simon Thomas accuses education minister Leighton Andrews of 'jumping the gun' by taking Merthyr Tydfil's schools from local council control and wanting to transfer them to Rhondda Cynon Taf. He added that the minister must share the blame for poor education.
If the Welsh Government is to continue with this practice of naming and shaming the worst offenders when it comes to poor education delivery, then it needs to include itself in that list. The Minister said he did not run education in the five local authorities found so far to be failing, but parents, pupils and the public all think that the Minister does run education in Wales, and so do I. He needs to stop blaming others and the system and admit that, as the Education Minister, he is ultimately responsible for the provision of education and get on with the job if improvement.
What is clear is that the present system is dysfunctional. Poor or inadequate performance seems to outnumber examples of strong services. The Minister says that his preferred option is to incorporate Merthyr’s education services into Rhondda Cynon Taf, despite RCT being classified as only ‘adequate’. He needs to think very careful about that. Merging Merthyr with Rhondda Cynon Taff also jumps the gun on the work of his advisor who is charged with heading the review into the future delivery of education in Wales.
– Plaid Cymru Education Spokesperson Simon Thomas AM
Education Minister Leighton Andrews has been explaining why Merthyr Tydfil is losing control of its schools. It's the most drastic action he has yet taken against a local education authority that has been classed as 'unsatisfactory' by the schools inspectorate, Estyn.
Estyn judged Merthyr’s prospects for improvement as unsatisfactory. Senior officers and elected members of the council have not challenged underperformance or poor outcomes for learners. The inspection team found that the local authority does not have in place a robust and continuous self-evaluation process for its education services. Nor has it responded well enough to the recommendations from past inspections going back to 2004. The inspection team concluded that the authority lacks effective systems to judge whether initiatives and services have a positive impact on children.
The local authority has failed to respond to Estyn recommendations going back 8 years. There are systemic weaknesses in the authority and therefore I can have no confidence that Merthyr will resolve these problems itself, even with support. I will be removing Merthyr’s responsibility for education. My preferred option is to create a merged education service with the neighbouring authority, Rhondda Cynon Taff. Other options would be to appoint Commissioners or to hand the running of Merthyr’s education services to a body such as a not-for-profit trust or in a private sector recovery team.
– Education Minister Leighton Andrews AM
Leighton Andrews is setting up a recovery board to oversee the change olf control of Methyr's schools. He is taking less drastic action in Monmouthshire, which also received an 'unsatisfactory' recovery in education in Merthyr.
He says there's a new senior management team in Monmouthshire and a new director of education will start work in May but the evidence strongly points to a need for an independent recovery board to oversee the improvements needed. He has given the council until May 6 to respond to Estyn's report.
The Education minister, Leighton Andrews, has just announced that he is removing control of schools from Merthyr Tydfil Council. His decision follows a highly critical report from the schools inspectorate, Estyn,
His preferred option is to merge Merthyr's local education authority with neighbouring Rhondda Cynon Taf but sending in commissioners to runthe LEA or handing it over to an outside body are also options.