Julie James, Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology
Members will be aware that, following Estyn’s inspection of Merthyr Tydfil local authority education services for children and young people in November 2012, the inspection team judged that the authority’s education services and capacity to improve were both unsatisfactory. As a result, the authority was placed in special measures.
In June 2013 Welsh Ministers put in place a Ministerial Recovery Board, and vested the authority’s education functions with them, to provide support and challenge to the authority and to assist it in addressing its shortcomings.
Estyn has been monitoring the authority’s progress and undertook visits in February and October 2014. On each occasion the Inspectors found that the authority had taken steps to address the individual recommendations and had made progress, but that further work was needed.
Estyn’s last monitoring visit of the authority’s education services took place at the end of November, and I wish to draw your attention to the outcome of that visit.
I am pleased to say that following the visit, Estyn judged that the authority had made sufficient progress in relation to the recommendations following the inspection of November 2012. As a result, the Inspectorate considers that the authority no longer requires special measures and is removing it from further follow-up activity.
Estyn’s report of the outcome of the monitoring visit has been published on its website today.
Welsh Ministers will meet the leader and chief executive of Merthyr Tydfil to offer congratulations on the progress that the authority has achieved and the judgement given by inspectors. As the authority has been removed from special measures I will be revoking the Direction that was issued putting in place a Ministerial recovery board to provide support and challenge as the authority addressed the recommendations made by Estyn, and will be returning powers to the authority.
While this judgement importantly reflects the progress made by the authority it also critically reflects that outcomes for young people in Merthyr Tydfil are improving. We must continue to focus on these outcomes and ensure that standards in education in the authority continue to improve.
Whilst today’s announcement by Estyn is pleasing, Welsh Ministers will urge the leadership team of the authority not to become complacent and to ensure that the improvement continues and is sustainable and to consider the best mechanism which would enable this to happen.
The authority must also ensure that it addresses the important areas highlighted by Estyn as requiring particular attention –attendance rates in the primary sector, and continuing to develop their work in respect the needs of all pupils with ALN and vulnerable groups.