The Minister has made clear his expectation that local authorities should participate in consortia arrangements to raise standards and performance across the board.
In March Local Government leaders gave the Minister assurances that education is their number one priority. Local Authorities are committed to have school improvement regional partnerships in place by September 2012.
Speaking at his annual address to the WLGA, the Minister said:
“I issued a challenge to local authorities to work together and deliver the regional working agenda for school improvement. To support this process I have agreed the principle of one-off seed funding to assist with implementation costs. The seed funding is a maximum of a £1 million and consortia have until 25 November to submit their application and business cases.
“I have given a commitment to invest funds to support them and, in return, I expect to see significant savings from regional working and for this to be re-directed to the frontline.
“According to Local Authority financial returns, in 2010-11 they collectively spent around £43 million on school improvement – a rate of £80 per pupil. Based on modelling that I have seen to date there are significant efficiencies that can be realised to better support schools and drive up standards. I expect these efficiencies to be achieved.
“A £20 million reallocation is not unreasonable.”
“My challenge to each region is to identify how these resources will be refocused, either straight to the frontline, or directly on raising standards in our most challenged schools.”
During the Minister’s speech he also welcomed the commitment from all 22 local authorities to involving all schools in reading tests this year ahead of the statutory introduction of the Welsh Government’s national reading test next year.
Leighton Andrews said:
“It is important that we ensure that we are as well prepared as we can be for the introduction of statutory reading test next year."
The Welsh Government will continue to work with the WLGA and local government to agree the exact details of which tests will be used and in which year groups this year.