Today, Estyn, the education and training inspectorate for Wales, has released its report on education services for our children and young people.
It says that we need to improve education for children and young people in Monmouthshire and we agree that we have work to do to make sure all young people educated here have the very best of everything. Our schools appear to do very well in national league tables but it is clear that we could be achieving even more, and standards should be higher.
Monmouthshire young people are already doing well, but the report help us with details on areas we can improve to our young people achieve even more. We’ve already started to tackle the issues raised in the inspection and we have dealt with a number of the concerns that Estyn raise.
We’ve appointed a new director to lead the education service and she starts work with us soon – in the meantime we have engaged a strong interim management team to lead the service and to tackle issues identified. While we don’t underestimate the challenges ahead, we are confident that our education service will continue to improve.
The report details both weaknesses and strengths in the education service in Monmouthshire:
- We’re criticised for not having our own written safeguarding policy in place. Our practice had been to follow the arrangements set out in the national “All Wales Child Protection Procedures”. The criticism has already been rectified – we adopted our own policy in December last year.
- The report did point to there being appropriate systems to ensure that staff have Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks.
- The report said educational standards in our school is schools above average for Wales and that in Monmouthshire primary schools they are amongst the best in Wales. The inspectors did, however, suggest that performance is not as good as in similar authorities and that schools should be challenged more robustly by the authority about this. We are already addressing this concern. Last autumn we completely reshaped our school advisory services, working with four other local councils to set up the SE Wales Education Advisory Service, improving the level of expertise available for schools. We are confident that this new service is already working robustly and is beginning to make a difference.
- The report points to our strong leadership for education at the top of the council, and also praises the way school funding has been protected, as well as other strengths such as good school attendance and good youth support services. We are now working with our partners to produce an action plan to build on our strengths and to remedy the remaining weaknesses.
- The report criticises us for not having its own written safeguarding policy in place. Our practice had been to follow the arrangements set out in the national “All Wales Child Protection Procedures”. The criticism has already been rectified and we’ve adopted our own policy in December last year. The report did say that we have appropriate systems to ensure that staff have Criminal Records Bureau checks.
Overall, we are investing heavily in education, including an exciting new school building programme. We will now work closely with the Welsh Government to develop and implement our action plan so that we can bring about the rapid improvements, we agree with Estyn that these steps are necessary. Outstanding education is vital for Monmouthshire and is one of our three key priorities and this will continue to be the case.