No-confidence talks over 'significant concerns' on Powys schools service
The opposition on Powys County Council wants a meeting to discuss a motion of no-confidence in the authority's cabinet member for education.
It comes after a report by Estyn - the school standards body for Wales - into the council's education service delivered a highly critical verdict.
On Tuesday councillors were called to County Hall in Llandrindod Wells to discuss in private session the contents of the report, which had been published earlier in the day.
Liberal Democrat and Green group leader, Councillor James Gibson-Watt, said: “The portfolio holder is two years into her second shot at leading education in Powys yet the same issues that bedevilled her past tenure are still being raised as 'areas of significant concern'.
“On the council’s support for pupils with special or additional needs, Estyn has found that the most vulnerable children are being let down.
“It is clear from this report that this portfolio holder is not providing the strategic leadership and support schools need to provide all of our children, whatever their abilities, with an education to give them the best start and opportunities in life.”
Labour group leader Councillor Mathew Dorrance said: “Estyn’s report makes uncomfortable reading and the cabinet must set out, as a priority, how they plan to fix their failures.
“The inspectors themselves have said that the council has failed to tackle issues it raised 12 years ago and that is not good enough.
“When the cabinet brings forward plans that support schools and enables them to give our children and young people the education they deserve, they will have our full support.
“But we will not back them while they dither and duck the big decisions. The Tory and Independent-run council’s record is a catalogue of failure.
“Children’s services, social care and now our education service are all failing on their watch. ”
Plaid Cymru group leader, Elwyn Vaughan said: “The Powys cabinet needs to be humble and apologise to Powys residents.
“The report is very critical of many aspects of the council’s education department.
“It is clear from reading the report that there are serious questions regarding arrangements and in particular the provision for non-maintained education, post-16 education, Welsh-medium education and secondary education.
“The report is extremely critical of Powys' slow pace of action on these issues, and in fact many of the council’s financial problems stem from the historic lack of taking decisions with the easier to avoid face of these issues.
“Powys is the only county council without a bilingual secondary school and that’s a disgrace.
“The question has to be raised, how long is it acceptable to expect these changes and improvements to happen?
“If the commitment to action is not urgent then others should be left to do the job.”