PART of how Powys County Council (PCC) bounces-back from the damning Estyn report into the education service is to have their new plans probed in depth by members of the learning and skills scrutiny committee.

Published in September, following the inspection by Estyn in July the report caused a political storm in Powys.

Committee chair, Cllr Peter Roberts (Liberal Democrat – Llandrindod South), explained at the meeting on Wednesday, October 30, that the five recommendations from Estyn had been split up between councillors and school governors on the committee.

They will keep an eye on the developments in these areas over the coming months.

Cllr Roberts said that this would give the scrutiny committee “continuity” as they will be scrutinising how the education service will be trying to meet the five recommendations that Estyn will judge them on at a future monitoring visit.

Committee vice-char and independent member, Angela Davies and Cllr Edwin Roderick (Independent – Maescar and Llywel), are looking after recommendation number one.

 1) Improve the standards in secondary schools, especally the performance of more able learners.

The education department has already come up with a list of nine priorities for the recommendation.

Ms Davies, said: “I’m a little bit disappointed that the (Estyn) report was seen as  so, alarming.

“Because quite frankly anyone involved in education should not have been surprised.

“They said that there had been issues found in this report that they had been highlighted in previous reports, there’s nothing that new in here, we all knew where it was going.

“The new incumbents had not been in charge, but many of you have been in the authority for a long time.”

Ms Davies added that the committee had drawn attention to issues in the past  and believed PCC needs a positive marketing campaign for schools.

“Our schools do  feel they’ve heard it all before it’s all talk and no action, so we do need to be very decisive, make the decisions and carry them through,” said Ms Davies.

“It’s highlighted that pupils don’t feel listened to.

“I can assure you that parents and schools don’t feel they are listened to, and that its reiterating my point that the campaign when we make a decision on the direction of travel is marketed in a positive way so that people know what the intention is.”

“Where are we going?

“What the goal is and what will it look like?

“And some will be very unhappy with the decision but that will be your job.”

She added that schools needed to know that support services from social work and health professionals were there to help pupils, especially as struggling school finances would mean staff cuts.

Education portfolio holder, Cllr Phyl Davies (Conservative – Blaen Hafren), said:  “Last years cuts have not helped (£2million), but they were offered up by professionals at the time.

“They recommended what could be taken out of the service and they sat in front of the cabinet, and said this will not have the effect that you’re concerned about.”

Cllr Davies said that there had to be meetings with schools, headteachers and governors before Christmas to start the hearts and minds campaign.

“It’s not about money, it’s about the education offer and that’s what we are failing our learners.

“We are looking at the data and we have 25 per-cent spare capacity in our school estate and we’re running the same estate, there’s been 15 years of lack of action.”

The priorities that PCC have come up with so far to deal with Recommendation 1 are:

 Improve results particularly Capped 9 scores and A-A*

 Reduce the number of secondary schools in an Estyn follow up category

Improve the quality of leadership in secondary schools including middle leaders to ensure succession planning

Sustain standards in primary and develop effective transition arrangements that ensures the progress of pupil into KS3 (Key Stage)

 Improve the performance of more able learners

 Improve attendance in secondary schools by reducing the number of schools in the bottom 25 per-cent when compared to similar schools

 Continue to reduce the level of permanent and fixed term exclusions.

 Improve the skills and ability of Governing Bodies to make effective decisions

implement a strategic approach for developing mental and emotional health across all the schools in the local authority.