Minister hails ‘breakthrough’ in quest to raise school standards in Wales

Education Minister Huw Lewis has described a decision by Welsh councils to drive forward regional school improvement as a “breakthrough” in the quest to raise standards. This is from Wales Online

It followed a commitment by the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) to ring-fence voluntarily the £19m earmarked for school improvement at regional consortia level.

Mr Lewis had last week threatened to force Wales’ 22 local authorities into complying with recommendations put forward by Government adviser Robert Hill in the summer, by top-slicing their central budgets.

But “intense negotiations” have seemingly paid off and Mr Lewis is satisfied that council leaders and chief executives are aware of Welsh Government expectations.

He said a new national model for regional education consortia would be implemented immediately and a template for a new “education delivery agreement”, formed on the basis of Mr Hill’s recommendations, would be signed by all Welsh councils.

If local authorities fail to comply with new arrangements, they have agreed to forgo money allocated for regional working.

Mr Lewis said he met with WLGA spokesman for education Ali Thomas yesterday and agreed the organisation’s “offer”.

He added: “As part of the consultative process of any potential transfer from the 2014-15 settlement, I have given local authorities and the WLGA every opportunity to provide me with an alternative option. I made clear at the outset that this would have to represent a better deal for learners, and for taxpayers, than the simple top-slice of local government budgets.

“I believe the Welsh Government has now received that assurance, and we have the necessary guarantees from local government that the regional agenda will be put right as a matter of urgency. As author of the report, Robert Hill has been appraised of the plan of action and agrees this represents the right way forward.”

Councils were given until September last year to be working as part of four new regional education consortia, but progress has been patchy and all are not yet properly developed.

Mr Lewis said the WLGA’s offer would help quicken school improvement arrangements…

More at:  Minister hails ‘breakthrough’ in quest to raise school standards

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