Powys removed from list of local education authorities causing “significant concern”

The Powys Education Authority has been removed from Estyn’s authority list, causing “significant concern” after general improvements despite the pandemic.

The education watchdog said the Powys Council, which operates 95 schools, has made “big progress” on all recommendations to improve education services.

During a 2019 inspection, Estyn raised significant concerns about the council’s education services and made five recommendations for action. Inspectors have also categorized the council as a local authority, raising serious concerns.

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Newtown High School in Powys was removed from Estyn’s special measures earlier this month

Powys Council Chief Councilor Rosemarie Harris said it had not been easy but improvements were achieved during the pandemic, “the most difficult time the board and schools have ever seen.”

Powys County Council Actions:

  • Improved additional learning needs for the most vulnerable learners
  • Worked with high schools and others to create an ‘intentional’ offering after 16 years
  • Development of a vision for teaching in Welsh to help students become fully bilingual
  • Made progress to strengthen financial management in schools.

Advisor Phyl Davies, Powys’ cabinet member for education and real estate, said: “(Estyn’s) findings reflect well the combined efforts of colleagues in our schools and the education department and I want to to thank them for their professionalism and dedication.

“The findings of this report show that we have laid a solid foundation on which we can further improve service to ensure the best outcomes for all of our learners.

“Special thanks also go to all the agents I have worked with over the past two years and I am very proud of what we have accomplished. The recognition of this work is well deserved by all.

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During her initial inspection of Powys’ education department in 2019, Estyn said: “There are many areas of the authority’s work that give rise to significant concerns, such as those related to school organization, financial management , school governance, lack of action on schools causing concern and co-coordination of provision for students with special educational needs or who may require additional support. “

The measures taken since have made it possible to remedy this problem. Cllr Rosemarie Harris added: “Over the past two years, we have worked with key education players, including Estyn, the Welsh government and school leaders, to take the necessary steps to make a difference.

“It was not an easy trip with some tough decisions made along the way.

“This is particularly satisfying given that the actions and improvements we have overseen took place during the coronavirus pandemic, the most difficult time the board and schools have ever seen.

“Education continues to be one of our highest priorities. Today is an important step in our efforts to make Powys a great educational authority and we will continue to make the improvements needed to improve the education of Powys’ children, putting the needs of all learners at the heart of our decisions.

Removing the board from the list of important concerns, Estyn said, “Leaders have worked well with stakeholders and partners to make great progress on all recommendations. “

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