PROPOSALS to take out over £500,000 from the education service could have a severe impact on Powys County Council (PCC) as a whole.

It also raises a spectre that PCC could lose control of its education service.

This is the opinion of the interim chief education officer, Lynnette Lovell, in a risk assessment of the proposal to take £511,000 from the service.

Recovering from a critical Estyn report will become more difficult as will delivering a new “vision” for education in the county.

In September Estyn published a reporting branding the Powys education service “weak” and causing “significant concern.”

A post inspection action plan has been submitted by PCC who believe it could take two years to turn things around.

As part of proposals to make cuts of £11 million for next year’s PCC budget, interim chief education officer Lynette Lovell has put forward a proposal to:

“Review the staffing structures across the the school service to ensure effective provision for supporting schools and pupils and to review the provision for ALN (Additional Learning Needs).”

Last year (2019/20) £2million was taken out of the service in order for £1 million to be pumped into the schools’ budget.

Staff have already stated in public meetings during the last six months that they are struggling to cope with the volume of work.

In the impact assessment when asked the question: “How likely are you to successfully implement the proposed change?”

Ms Lovell answered: “I think that the risks for the council are more severe than these identified.

“If we don’t improve the services, the whole council could lose control over education.

“It’s how any cuts impact on the quality of service, and we know that ALN (Additional Learning Needs) need more resource not less.”

In the report Ms Lovell recognises that the impact of the change will be poor when it comes to strengthening skills.

Ms Lovell said: “The school service has recently been inspected by Estyn.

“Areas of significant concern were identified in the report including support for pupils with additional learning needs and standards in secondary schools.

“As a result, the support provided to schools needs to be improved to enable schools to deliver support more effectively.

“Therefore, the review of school service needs to evaluate how to improve the support provided to schools.

She writes that this can be “mitigated” by having a staff review and identifying any gaps in provision.

The impact to the council, risk of delivering the proposal and inherent risk are all deemed “high.”

In mitigation, Ms Lovell says: “Therefore all proposals need to be evaluated fully to ensue improvements are delivered at pace.

Another high risk identified is: “Reduced capacity to deliver the post inspection action plan at the expected pace.

This would be countered by “realigning” the roles so that other members of staff could take over the responsibility.

Overall the cut is deemed to be “high risk.”

In total the Education and Schools Budget is due to go up from £91.749 million this year to £98.567 million in the next financial year (2020/21).

A total of £6.6 million of this is needed for teachers’ pay and costs.