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Can council afford to reorganise education?

Created on 10/07/2019 @ 10:43
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By Elgan Hearn, Local Democracy Reporter

Extra resources need to be pumped into the education department to allow work on school reorganisation to take place, it has been claimed.

It was revealed at a meeting of the learning and skills scrutiny committee that only one member of staff had been working on the report to justify reorganising sixth forms throughout the county.

The report outlines that the need to make change is due to a dramatic loss of sixth form pupils and the corresponding funding over the last five years

During the last financial year, £2 million was taken out of the education department to give schools extra funding.

Welshpool county councillor, Graham Breeze, said: “We’ve been waiting with great anticipation for radical change that is needed.

“Why are we having to wait until the spring of 2020 to see the reorganisation of our failing sixth forms even discussed publicly? I’m disappointed that we have been told – ‘let’s deal with it in chunks’.”

Marianne Evans, senior manager schools’ transformation, said: “If you want to tell the cabinet to speed up the pace of change that is your prerogative. In terms of the capacity issue, just to put it out there, in my team, I have one officer working on the whole schools’ transformation agenda.

“Luckily I have support from the side, but it’s not enough to make the changes at pace.”

Ms Evans continued: “The great need is to learn from the past and take people with us on this journey.

“We will fail as an authority if we go too early and face, ‘save our sixth form’ campaigns.

“We need to engage with our school communities and young people who will be able to help us with this, as they know what they want.”

Ms Evans added that the department needed to analyse the data from the first survey in more detail to understand what is needed and what young people want.

Scrutiny committee chairman Cllr Peter Roberts said: “That is an amazing admission. We have been hearing for a long time there is need for urgent review of schools as a whole.

“To be told that this is essentially all down to one person, hats off to the individual, they deserve a pat on the back for delivering what’s been done so far. But it’s absolutely appalling considering the level of deficits in schools.”

Head of strategy, performance and transformation programmes, Emma Palmer, told members that more support would be being given to the team.

A business case would be put in front of the senior management team to use money from the sale of assets that can be used on “transformational” projects.

Due to “purdah” rules in place because of the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election this will be postponed and the report go in front of cabinet in September. It was supposed to be discussed by cabinet on July 30.

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