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Written Statement - Estyn Monitoring Visit to Torfaen County Borough Council

Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills

Today Estyn publishes a letter outlining the results of its recent monitoring visit to Torfaen (which took place between the 18 and 22 February 2013).  Following Estyn’s inspection of Torfaen’s education services in October 2011 the authority was identified as requiring Significant Improvement.  We are making this statement to highlight to Members the judgements that Estyn has reached following this monitoring visit.

The letter summarising the outcome of the monitoring visit contains criticisms of the performance of the local authority.  The inspection team found that since the original inspection in October 2011 the authority has made limited progress against most of the recommendations and improvements have been slow. 

On completion of the original inspection Estyn identified five recommendations for the authority to address, during the monitoring visit the inspectorate concluded that the authority has partially addressed 3 of these recommendations and not addressed the remaining two.  As such it is the view of the inspection team that the authority has made insufficient progress to address the recommendations in the inspection report and that the authority should be placed in the category of Special Measures.  

I am very concerned to note Estyn’s findings.  It is particularly disappointing to see that an authority that has had the benefit of an Estyn inspection, and been left with clear recommendations to address, has failed to tackle the issues with the required pace and urgency.  The conclusion reached by Estyn, that 16 months after their initial inspection the progress made by the authority has been limited and slow, is unacceptable. I look to the Leader of the Council to take the appropriate action.

These failings reflect serious weaknesses in the management of education services.  Our response needs to quickly improve outcomes for children and young people in the area, but any action we take must also be sustainable in the long term.  As such my department will be working over the coming weeks to consider how best to respond.  A full update on our proposed course of action will be provided to Assembly members as soon I have determined the matter.