Huw Lewis, Minister for Education and Skills
Schools Challenge Cymru formally rolled out in our Pathways to Success Schools this September. The schools and the Schools Challenge Cymru Advisers have been working together over the summer and into the new term to develop and submit their School Development Plans. Each school now has a plan in place, which sets out their priorities and the actions required to address their individual development needs, focused on improving teaching, learning and leadership within the school. All of these plans are tailored to meet the needs of the individual schools and will form the basis of their accelerated improvement journey over the coming year.
To support them on this journey, all of our Pathways to Success Schools have now received an initial allocation of funding. These were agreed following a period of consideration and close scrutiny of each school’s plan by the Schools Challenge Cymru Champions and my officials. The allocations are based on each school’s individual needs and will support the implementation of a bespoke package of improvement activity.
The Schools Challenge Cymru Advisers have established Accelerated Improvement Boards in each of their schools. These boards, along with the SCC Advisers, will provide support and challenge to the schools to ensure delivery against their plans, and to drive forward rapid improvement. They will also play a key role in keeping key stakeholders informed of progress, including practitioners, local authorities, consortia and Welsh Government officials.
As Schools Challenge Cymru Advisers work with their schools additional needs will inevitably emerge or be identified which will require further action. To manage this, and to ensure that the Challenge maintains pace, the allocation of funding must be dynamic. Given this fluidity, final funding allocations for year 1 of the programme for each of the Pathways to Success Schools will be published at the end of the summer term in 2015.
In addition to the funding being made available to schools directly for improvement activity, each education consortium has been allocated Schools Challenge Cymru funding to build capacity at a regional level and to drive collaboration. This activity includes investing in Improvement Hubs, developing school to school partnerships and continuing professional development for leaders and practitioners.
This collaborative and focused approach is based on the principle of ‘school-led improvement’, with knowledge and expertise being identified from within the system and shared across it. By placing an emphasis on effective collaboration, Schools Challenge Cymru aims to foster a collective sense of responsibility, with everyone working together to ensure that Welsh learners are supported to reach their full potential.
The School Challenge Cymru Advisers will play a key role in supporting this collaboration, ensuring that schools and practitioners are empowered to work with each other to find solutions to the challenges that they face.
I am pleased to note that the Pathways to Success Schools have embraced their role and that they are all proceeding at pace with the implementation of the activities identified in their plans. Their progress will be an important contribution towards the overall raising of standards in the Welsh education system and the learning they develop, in partnership with schools from across Wales, will prove invaluable.