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Education boss leaves Torfaen Council

The Civic Centre in Pontypool
Torfaen Council's Civic Centre

The officer in charge of the education department at Torfaen Council has left his job.

Estyn, Wales’ education watchdog, published an inspection report in June 2022 that said the education service in Torfaen was “causing significant concern.”

Since then Dermot McChrystal, the council’s chief education officer for education, has been part of the team producing a post-inspection action plan (PIAP)to address the recommendations from Estyn. But he has now left the authority with the chief executive taking over the “strategic lead” for education.

Torfaen Council’s Executive Member for Education, Cllr Richard Clark, said: “Following recent discussions regarding the future challenges and opportunities for education in Torfaen, it has been mutually agreed, that now is the right time for Dermot to leave the Council.  Dermot has worked for Torfaen Council as the Chief Officer for Education for many years, and we would like to thank him for his efforts and wish him the very best as he moves on.

“Interim arrangements are in place with the Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Vickers, taking the strategic lead for education, supported by the wider Corporate Leadership Team and Deputy Directors in Education. The council has also secured additional support funded by the WLGA.  This arrangement will remain in place while longer-term solutions for the education service are determined.”

The council recently gave Estyn a copy of their PIAP. In a statement to Cwmbran Life the council said Estyn had “noted” these following “strengths” of work so far:

  • The local authority demonstrated that it has identified and understood the current issues appropriately.

  • The local authority has developed a post-inspection action plan that generally considers the breadth of the recommendations.

  • The local authority has recently strengthened its leadership capacity.

  • The local authority is developing a better understanding of its schools and is implementing systems to further strengthen this.

  • [The LA] reports that it has clearer expectations of the regional school improvement service and that the relationship between itself, and the school improvement service has very recently improved.

  • the local authority has improved its reporting and accountability arrangements through the monitoring evaluation and review process.

Estyn noted further developments to strengthen the PIAP:

  • Overall, the authority’s approach to evaluating the impact of its work is at an early stage of development.

  • The post-inspection action plan is activity heavy and that expected outcomes, or impact of this activity is limited and needs strengthening. There is a risk that monitoring, and evaluation arrangements will not focus on outcomes as well as they could.

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Education boss leaves Torfaen Council