Powys Education Authority has been removed from Estyn’s list of authorities causing “significant concern” after improvements across the board despite the pandemic.
The education watchdog said Powys Council, which runs 95 schools, has made “strong progress” in all recommendations to improve education services.
At an inspection in 2019, Estyn raised significant concerns about the council’s education services and issued five recommendations for action. Inspectors also placed the council in the category of local authorities causing significant concern.
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Powys Council leader Councillor Rosemarie Harris said it had not been easy but improvement was achieved during the pandemic,”the most difficult period that the council and schools have ever endured”.
Action Powys County Council has taken:
- Improved additional learning needs provision for the most vulnerable learners
- Worked with secondary schools and others to create “purposeful” post-16 provision
- Developed a vision for Welsh-medium education to help pupils become fully bilingual
- Made progress to strengthen financial management in schools.
Councillor Phyl Davies, Powys cabinet member for education and property, said: “The findings (from Estyn) reflect well on the combined efforts of colleagues both in our schools and the education service and I want to thank them for their professionalism and dedication.
“The findings of this report show that we have laid solid foundations on which we can further improve the service to ensure the best outcomes for all of our learners.
“Special thanks also go to all officers that I have worked with over the past two years and I’m very proud at what we have achieved. The recognition of this work is thoroughly deserved by all.”
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At its original inspection of Powys education service in 2019 Estyn said: “There are many areas of the authority’s work causing significant concern, such as those relating to school organisation, financial management, school governance, lack of action regarding schools causing concern and the co-ordination of provision for pupils with special educational needs or who may require extra support.”
Action taken since then has addressed this. Cllr Rosemarie Harris added: “Over the last two years, we have worked with key education stakeholders including Estyn, the Welsh Government and school leaders to take the necessary action to turn things around.
“It has not been an easy journey with difficult decisions taken along the way.
“It is especially pleasing given that the actions and improvements we have overseen have taken place during the Coronavirus pandemic, the most difficult period that the council and schools has ever endured.
“Education continues to be one of our highest priorities. Today is an important milestone in our efforts to make Powys an excellent education authority and we will continue to make the necessary improvements to improve education for Powys children, placing the needs of all learners at the heart of our decisions.”
Removing the council from the list of significant concern, Estyn said: “Leaders have worked well with stakeholders and partners to make strong progress against all recommendations.”
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