Friday, 3 August 2012

We need investment in state schools.

It's not rocket science, we have been here before, following a recession most private companies will try to consolidate debts - and those already stretched will find it hard to gain additional monies from banks.

The affect of this can be seen most sharply in the construction industry. For many 'SME' construction firms public contracts are their bread and butter, that kept them going, whilst private jobs was the jam.

I'm talking about local firms here, with long and successful histories of employing local people, whom are part of the local community and by their presence make the community better.

Of course the current thinking within the public sector is 'bigger is better'. Rather than say Jones of Amlwch repairing schools in Amlwch or Jones of Holyhead repairing school in Holyhead, no they say we need a big contract and a big firm (excuse used as ever the EU).

This is an idea that has come from the private sector, for example a local convenience store of mine had their door handle broken for some time. The spring had broken, it would have taken a local company ten minutes to fix, but no the manager informed me they had to wait till the 'maintenance company' sent and 'engineer' from Manchester to fix the door, 'cause that was company policy.

Things it seems are pretty bad at the Ynys Môn Council when you read (as I mentioned in a previous post)  "No budget allocation is available to cover other categories of maintenance, for example painting and decorating."

Think what we know about education on the island, firstly there is far too many surplus places, ideally the council would build new primary schools to merge and replace existing schools, that are not only expensive to keep, but not really suited to the needs of modern education.

And the islands secondary schools wont last for ever, take Ysgol Bodedern, the last new secondary school to be built on the island, that was in 1977, that's over 35 years ago.

So what can we do? - well may I be so humble and suggest that we need a 'big plan' to invest for the future. And this means borrowing money, and I'm not talking about some expensive PFI scheme or an equity swap with the private sector, I'm talking of council's being allowed to borrow money to invest in new infrastructure. Can't be done you say, then I refer you to monies made available in an attempt to clear the backlog in the maintenance of our highways see:  £60m boost for maintenance in Wales.

After all not all debt is bad debt, especially with the interest rates at a historic low. We need to invest in education and the future needs of the islands children, we need to repair old schools, better still build new schools. Above all we need timely support for our local building firms and provide a boost to the local economy.

Of course this is not something the Council can do alone, and this is where the Welsh Government should step in. It's all well and easy pointing fingers and saying things should improve following an Estyn report, but you are either part of the solution of part of the problem.

Is a collapsing education system really the legacy a Welsh Labour Government wants to be remembered for?

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Education on the island.

A recent Estyn report on the quality of local authority education services for children and young people in Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn concluded:

Overall judgement: Unsatisfactory

The local authority’s education services for children and young people are unsatisfactory because:
  • standards for children and young people are below what could be expected at all key stages;
  • attendance rates in secondary schools are unacceptably low;
  • the school improvement service is inadequate
  • not enough progress has been made in planning for school places;
  • operational leadership in the delivery of education has not driven improvements in areas of under performance and schools and officers have not been held to account; and
  • business planning and risk-assessment processes have not been robust enough to identify and address the slow pace of progress in education services and schools.
Capacity to improve: Unsatisfactory

The local authority has unsatisfactory prospects for improvement because:
  • there has been long-term under performance at service level;
  • the pace of action to bring about improvement has been too slow in the past to assure inspectors that improvement can follow this inspection without external challenge;
  • self-evaluation processes have been patchy and progress against recommendations made in previous inspections has been limited;
  • school leaders have not been held to account; and
  • service level lines of accountability are unclear.
There is only one thing you can say - it's another damning indictment of the piss poor leadership the Councillors of the island have given us. I for one think that since power was taken away from the under performing councillors things have actually started to improve at the council. It's less me me, and more about us.

Want more evidence as to the lack of leadership - Mike Barton in his report to review the future management strategy of property assets says:

An ongoing programme of revisions to condition surveys indicates a worsening situation with regard to building conditions and the maintenance required to retain premises in good order.. .. And...

No budget allocation is available to cover other categories of maintenance, for example painting and decorating.

Yes 'what the fuck' indeed, oh and don't forget that many of these so called Councillors are Governors as well, and that many of them are still prancing around as if this had nothing to do with them.

I think Councillor McGregor got it right, when he said this morning that this was another nail in the coffin of Ynys Môn Council.

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the next logical step is a merger with Gwynedd County Council and possibly others, as we were in the good old days, when someone standing as councillor did so for the benefit of the community and not as it now seems to gain advantage for themselves and friends.