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.
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.
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