Gwent councils join forces to boost education standards
GWENT councils will work together to raise standards in education through the creation of a new non-for-profit company.
A report to Newport council’s learning, caring and leisure scrutiny committee says the newly formed South East Wales Education Achievement Service (EAS), is needed because many schools are performing below expectations and there are low rates of attainment in literacy and numeracy.
The report said low attendance and a high level of exclusions were an issue, while pupils who receive school meals were under performing, along with boys generally.
Newport council's head of education, James Harris, said a collaboration by Gwent's five councils Newport, Monmouthshire, Torfaen, Caerphilly and Blaenau Gwent, via the new EAS would bring resilience to education services, as well as amalgamate procedures and share incentives throughout the region.
Under the plan, already agreed by all councils, the firm aims to improve standards at the three lowest ranked secondary schools in Gwent - Risca Community Comprehensive, Tredegar Comprehensive School and Caldicot School.
This includes bringing them out of the worst band 5, which is given to schools with the worst GCSE performance and attendance, by 2015.
It also wants to raise achievement at the 12 schools currently in band 4, bringing them up a grade and also plans to ensure every child has basic reading and maths skills by the time they leave primary school.
The Welsh Government has given £1 million towards the EAS' set up costs and once up and running in September it will be run by a board.
It will provide 'core' service to each local authority equally as well as bespoke services to councils, which have specific needs.
Staff, many of which will transfer from each of the five councils involved, will be based in existing council offices in Newport and Ystrad Mynach.
South east Wales has the highest proportion of schools in lower bands compared with other regions across Wales.