The Education Minister, Leighton Andrews, say he is still not satisfied with Pembrokeshire Council's response to concerns about safeguards for children in its care. He warned last month that he would take further action if the council failed to improve its performance.
In particular, he wanted better co-operation with the Pembrokeshire Ministerial Board, a team he sent into the county last year when concerns first became public. He has now announced that he is taking stronger measures.
The Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services and I wrote to the Leader of Pembrokeshire County Council on 12 June. We told him that we continue to have serious concerns about arrangements for safeguarding in education services in the county and that we were minded to issue a direction to the authority. The Pembrokeshire Ministerial Board and the inspectorates have reported findings that do little to allay our concerns. Nothing the Leader has said in his letter of reply or in a subsequent email to us convinces us that the Board and the inspectorates have got it wrong.
We have checked and re-checked the facts and taken legal advice. We must know that everything is being done to make sure that children in Pembrokeshire are safe. Having reviewed all of the evidence, we have decided to issue a direction to Pembrokeshire County Council to comply with any instructions issued by His Honour Graham Jones, as Chair of the Pembrokeshire Ministerial Board, that he considers reasonably necessary to ensure that the authority adequately discharges its statutory duty to exercise its education functions with a view to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children.
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