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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting : 3rd December 2012

 

Report of the Cabinet Member for Children's Services

 

The Future Delivery of Education Services in Wales : Statement by the Welsh Government

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To inform Cabinet of a recent statement by the Minister for Education and Skills about a review of the delivery of education services.

Recommendations

1.         To consider the report.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.         The report of the review group that has been established by the Minister will consider a number of options concerning the delivery of education services at school, local authority, regional and national level.

Background

2.         The full text of the statement made by the Minister on 20th November about the review of the delivery of education services in Wales is set in Appendix 1.

Relevant Issues and Options

3.         The review will look at a number of options for delivery:

·                whether there should be a move to forms of regional delivery, and what the boundaries of those regions in the future should be, taking account of the regional footprint of delivery in public services amongst other options;

·                whether responsibilities for school improvement should be removed from local authorities and vested in a more streamlined regional service accountable to Welsh Government;

·                whether statutory merger of the education services of local authorities under joint management by a number of authorities could be a solution;

·                whether there is a need to go further and remove all education functions from local government and create regional school boards accountable to Welsh Government, either with or without a level of local government representation.

4.         The review will consider whether schools should be directly funded by Welsh Ministers, and/or whether there is scope for cooperative ownership of schools at a local level, combining secondary schools and the primary schools in their clusters, with shared systems of governance, which could mean reforming the system known as local management of schools. Such a system could operate in tandem with any of the proposals outlined above for regional delivery of education services.

5.         The WLGA issued the following response on 20th November:

“The WLGA is vehemently opposed to any proposal that suggests education should be taken out of local authority control. This will fundamentally damage the principle of local democratic control and accountability, and undermine the ability of local communities to shape the educational future of young people.

“The WLGA is already working closely and positively with the Education Minister, who has met the 22 leaders on numerous occasions and only last week addressed the 22 Cabinet Members for Education across Wales. The Association has fully agreed with the major elements of the Ministers 20 action points and has indeed met many of its obligations including the delegation of 80% funding to schools, the banding of schools and the establishment of four School Improvement Consortia. There clearly are major issues that need addressing arising from the Estyn inspections thus far. Performance needs to radically improve and it is vital that as a key component of the system, Local Education Authorities are functioning to an optimum level to best serve the interests of pupils across Wales.”

Councillor Aaron Shotton (Flintshire), WLGA Deputy Leader added:

“We are barely six months out of May’s local government elections which witnessed massive political change across Wales and radical changes in political administrations. Coming only eighteen months after the last review and some six weeks into the new regional school improvement services, what we need now is a relentless focus on improving outcomes not changing structures. The WLGA is seeking honesty and transparency from the Welsh Government on the reviews purpose and the ultimate destination of travel.”

Councillor Huw David (Bridgend), WLGA Deputy Spokesperson for Education said:

“The current changes need time to be embedded and to take effect and we call on the Welsh Government to work with councils to dramatically improve outcomes and raise standards. Ultimately all tiers of government in Wales, including devolved and local government, are responsible for delivering education improvement and raising standards. Local authorities are a vital part of the system but ultimately it is the quality of teaching and schools that will deliver the step change we all seek within Wales.”

6.         Although the detailed scope of the review is still to be confirmed it is evident from the Minister's statement that the review has the potential to alter radically the Council's responsibilities for education and impact on the governance of schools, the Council's role as an employer and landlord, the services provided by the Council and budget and financial management that represent a significant proportion of the Council's spending.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

7.         There are no resource implications as a direct result of the statement however, the scope of the review could bring forward recommendations for substantial changes to the Council's budget and its role as an employer of school staff.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

8.         There are no sustainability or climate change implications arising from this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

9.         There are no legal implications arising from this report although the scope of the review could bring forward recommendations changing the Council's statutory responsibilities.

Crime and Disorder Implications

10.      There are no crime and disorder implications arising from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

11.      There are no equal opportunity implications arising from this report.

Corporate/Service Objectives

12.      People of all ages are able to access coordinated learning opportunities and have the necessary skills to reach their full potential, helping to remove barriers to employment.

Policy Framework and Budget

13.      This report is a matter for Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

14.      Officer consultation only.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

15.      Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

None.

 

Contact Officer

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer

 

Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team

 

Responsible Officer:

Jennifer Hill, Chief Learning and Skills Officer.

 

 

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