GREATER clarity was wanted by members of the School Scrutiny Panel when it comes to the future of sixth forms in Powys.

On Tuesday, April 14, Powys County Council (PCC) leader, Cllr Rosemarie Harris (Independent – Llanguynidr) is set to push ahead with a 10-year strategy to transform schools.

This is partly a response to a critical Estyn report published in September 2019 , some schools facing chronic financial issues and a historical lack of political decision making.

The document that provides the “vision” was scrutinised by the Schools Scrutiny Panel, which met by remote web link on March 20.

The panel was made up of councillors and school governors who sit on the Learning and Skills scrutiny committee.

They discussed the document with, Education portfolio holder Cllr Phyl Davies (Conservative – Blaen Hafren), Finance portfolio holder Cllr Aled Davies (Llanrhaeadr-ym-Mochnant & Llansilin) and Head of Transformation and Communications, Emma Palmer, who is working alongside the Education Service on this project.

The observations from the meeting are supposed to be considered by Cllr Harris before she makes her decision.

They show a number of questions were asked by the panel on sixth forms.

The scrutiny report said: “The Panel were unclear as to where sixth form centres would be located, was it co-location or separate sites?

“What is the proposed relationship between all through schools and sixth forms?

“There is a need to clarify the relationship between all through schools and sixth form provision?"

The answer from Cllr Phyl and Aled Davies and Ms Palmer, was: “Sixth form centres provide a way of reducing the current number of sites that are offering post-16 education.”

They added that some sixth forms have outstanding exam results and that they would need to build on that.

They also said that there would need to be more discussions on the details of sixth form centres with school governor and headteachers.

They added: “Given the level of investment that would be required, this part of the plan may not happen quickly”.

Until then they would need to improve choice and quality across Powys with the “strongest providers” helping others out.

Sixth forms are one of the big areas of concern for the Education Service.

This is because as an increasing number of pupils leave Powys to continue their education elsewhere.

In 2018/19 it was estimated that approximately 450 post-16 pupils were being taught in neighbouring counties, including over the border in Shropshire and Herefordshire.

The loss of pupils means that the funding for them from the Welsh Government is lost to Powys schools.