The education services in two more areas of Wales should be taken into special measures, according to the education watchdog Estyn. This is from the BBC…
Merthyr Tydfil and Monmouthshire are the latest councils deemed to be failing pupils, following Anglesey, Blaenau Gwent and Pembrokeshire.
Education Minister Leighton Andrews said he will take action, blaming the quality of education management.
Both Merthyr and Monmouthshire councils said they were taking steps to improve.
The reports point to a number of failings in both education services, and say the councils are not doing enough to support struggling schools.
Estyn said that while Monmouthshire council was above the average for Wales and among the best in Wales in primary schools, it was falling short of the standards that could be reached.
It said when the relatively low level of deprivation in the county was taken into consideration, it was not achieving as much as it should, and concluded that “given the levels of funding and the outcomes achieved overall, the education service provides unsatisfactory value for money”.
Meanwhile Merthyr Tydfil council had high levels of deprivation and its performance was “well below average”, the inspectorate said.
The report found that Merthyr council had “not responded well enough to the recommendations from past inspections, including those going back to 2004”.
“As a consequence, many areas for improvement have not moved forward fast enough to secure better services, provision and outcomes for all learners in the local authority,” it added.
It said both should be placed in special measures – a status applied by Estyn when it considers that schools fail to supply an acceptable level of education and appear to lack the leadership capacity to improve.
Mr Andrews said that the Welsh government will be taking action over the next few days with, he hoped, the co-operation of the local authorities concerned.
Speaking to BBC Radio Wales, he called the reports “disappointing” and “depressing” but agreed the problem seemed to be a systemic one.
He said it stemmed from the “whirlwind” of what was set up in the 1990s, when Wales went from having eight county councils responsible for education to 22 unitary authorities responsible for education.
“I think what that led to was a dissipation of resources, it meant we didn’t have sufficiently strong school improvement services as the older counties had had, we didn’t have expertise in human resource support for head teachers,” Mr Andrews said.