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Written Statement - Review of education consortia in Wales

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The Minister for Education and Skills previously agreed to undertake a review of regional working and education consortia’s readiness to deliver shared school improvement services.
Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills

The 22 Council Leaders have given a commitment that education is their number one priority and that they would move to regional school improvement services from September 2012.  

I agreed to an independent review to test the consortia’s readiness to deliver shared school improvement services on a regional basis with a focus on the progress being made in implementing consortia arrangements, reflection on progress and the sharing of lessons learned, the identification of priorities for action and inform the  development of future policy.  The review was based on a series of ‘tests’ designed to evaluate the progress each region has made against the commitments and milestones set out in their business cases in relation to the three key aspects of delivery, leadership, capacity and systems.

The overall conclusion of the review team is that there is evidence of a strong commitment to making the new regional arrangements work, that those involved in each consortium have been working hard to ensure effective delivery, and there are encouraging signs of progress and indications of the potential benefits of the new arrangements.   Each consortium has areas of strength but it is clear even from the snapshot view from this review that there is evidently much more work to be done.  This is urgent and must be prioritised if consortia are to progress and build on what has been achieved to date.

There are key messages from the review which are important for the future development of consortium working.  I expect consortia to take note of these key messages and address them.

  • Consortia must clearly articulate what they will be delivering, through their work with schools and local authorities that will lead to improvement in teaching and learning in schools, and result in raising standards.  
  • System leaders have a key role to play and consortia must consider how to grow the relatively limited pool of talent from within Wales.
  • While addressing this, the central role of schools must not be forgotten and consortia must maximise the involvement of school-to-school support within regional delivery.

The consortia must now turn their attention to moving ahead with pace and urgency, embedding systems and governance arrangements, improving communications and developing the effectiveness of system leader engagement with schools and head teachers.

The expectations of system leaders are high.  They are vitally important to the successful delivery of our three education priorities and the delivery of the national implementation plan – Improving Schools.  They will, therefore, require continuous professional development and training.  The perception and quality of system leaders and their interaction with schools and head teachers needs to grow and continue to improve.  

We will continue to work with consortia to deliver system leaders training to national standards, which must be sustainable.  I also expect consortium to identify and share good practice between the four regions, something they have failed to do to date.  

Each consortium will be expected to produce an action plan that will set out what steps they will take to address the areas of development identified from the review. The review findings will also form part of the evidence that Robert Hill is collecting.  

A copy of the review can be found on the Welsh Government website.