On the subject of education and Local Authorities and the part they need to play in raising standards I can’t say I have a great deal of faith in RCT’s education department and even less in the ability of the Labour Cabinet Member and her colleagues.
The recently appointed Director of Education Chris Bradshaw is a money man. He started out in the finance department. In 2007 he was the Director of Strategic Policy & Continuous Improvement. He presented the grand plans for Ynysangharad Park to Cabinet in June of that year setting out the case for regeneration of the Park and Lido. Five years on and the plans have got no further – they are still talking about putting a business case together.
He had a spell in charge of Communities First and made absolutely no impression at all.
Then he made the move to the education department – with only one aim in mind, to save money. His first plan there was the closure of all sixth forms in RCT which met with outrage in many quarters – including amongst RCT Welsh Liberal Democrats.
He has no education background and on the face of it little understanding of educational systems.
On the political front it is even worse.
Now I have made it very clear what I think of school banding – it is a nonsensical system. However, it is surely the cause of some embarrassment for the Cabinet Member for Education in RCT that the school at which she has been a governor for some considerable time – Tonyrefail Comprehensive – is rated as the worse performing school in RCT.
If she has not been able to influence standards in her own school then what hope can we have that she can make any meaningful contribution to raising them in other schools.
But of course she can always rely on the support of her colleagues, all with their finger on the pulse.
Several of her Labour colleagues sit on the same Governing Body as I do. Last week we carried out our annual performance review with a presentation and some debate about our performance across the key stages.
The subject of the apparent demotion of science by the Education Minister cropped up, with comments similar to those I expressed on a previous blog post cropping up.
One Labour Councillor who also sits as one of the reps on the Education Scrutiny Committee announced with disgust that of course this was a result of directives from Westminster. Now I know they like to blame up for absolutely everything, but this idiot actually believed what he was saying.
I pointed out that he was wrong, that education is devolved – this accompanied by much nodding of heads and murmurs of agreement from staff in particular. He dismissed this as just being a technical point, that they were just doing what they were told.
I rarely lose my temper at governors meetings, and I try to never bring politics into it, but the sheer idiocy of this man did get the better of me. I pointed out in no uncertain terms, whilst he sat getting more and more flustered, that the banding system and decisions regarding key competencies and curriculum and everything else were the remit of one man and one man only, his Labour colleague at the Bay.
It is quite frightening to know that this is the level of understanding of people supposedly running this Authority. It is also a mark of just how blindly the Labour lot follow like sheep. Never questioning, never deviating from the Party line - even when they have it completely wrong.