Leighton Andrews, Minister for Education and Skills
In a joint Statement that the Minister for Local Government and Communities and I issued at the end of July, we advised Members of the action that is being taken to address the shortcomings identified during the inspection of education services for children and young people in Anglesey. We said that we would keep Members informed of progress in respect of establishing a Recovery Board to support the authority. Before I do that, I think it is worth reminding Members of the issues involved.
Following inspection of the education services in Anglesey in May 2012, Estyn published its inspection report at the end of July. In its overall judgements the inspection team found that the current performance of the local authority’s education service is unsatisfactory and also found the local authority’s prospects for improvement unsatisfactory. In light of these very serious shortcomings, Estyn believe that special measures are required in relation to this authority.
Anglesey is of course already run by Welsh Government Commissioners who were appointed in March 2011 to address fundamental failures of corporate leadership and governance. The role and remit of these Commissioners is purely at that corporate level. They were not appointed to recover education or any other specific service. Recovery in education needs to go hand in hand with the corporate recovery which the Commissioners are leading.
On 25 September the Minister for Local Government and Communities announced that he intends to start bringing his intervention to an end. Under these arrangements, powers which the Commissioners currently hold will return to the Council. Commissioners will remain, with their power to confirm or override any Council decision which goes against the advice of statutory officers. This provides an essential safeguard and allows us to test the strength of the Council’s recovery in a controlled environment. The Minister has also reduced the number of commissioners from 5 to 3 – this new arrangement will come into force on 1 October.
However this does not detract from the intervention I intend to put in place in relation to the local authority’s education functions. With the full support of the Minister for Local Government and Communities, I am announcing today the establishment of a Recovery Board to sustain and advise the Welsh Government Commissioners and to challenge and support the Council’s officers and members in respect of Anglesey’s education services. (This is similar to the approach which Former Minister for Children, Education and Lifelong Learning Jane Hutt successfully used with Denbighshire’s education services in 2008). The main difference is that the Commissioners will be able to step in directly if the Council is not taking adequate, or prompt action to put things right.
Today I am announcing the membership of that Board.
The Board will be chaired by Professor Mel Ainscow, who is a Professor of Education and co-director of the Centre for Equity in Education at Manchester. Mel was the Chief Adviser for the Greater Manchester Challenge & was previously a head teacher, a local education authority inspector and a lecturer at the University of Cambridge.
The Board will also include Geraint Rees Executive Head Teacher of Glyn Derw and Michaelston Federation. Further Board members include a senior education official from the Welsh Government and Dr Chris Llewellyn from the WLGA.
The Board will hold its first meeting during October 2012 and will from that point provide me with reports in respect of the progress being made.
I will be keeping the structure and membership of the board under review as this work progresses; should there be a need to augment the board membership in the future I will move to add additional members to this small taskforce as quickly as possible. Should this be the case I will of course make a further statement to the Assembly to update them on those details.