Councils 'incapable' of improving education, says Jones

Boy writing Carwyn Jones believes some Welsh councils cannot improve education, however hard they try

First Minister Carwyn Jones has told BBC Wales he thinks some councils are incapable of improving education in their area.

He said that with six local education authorities (LEAs) in special measures it is impossible to have faith in the delivery of education across Wales.

Mr Jones argued it gives further urgency to the need to cut the number of councils from the current 22.

A recent report recommended cutting the number by about half.

The Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA), which represents the councils, said improvements were being made.

Torfaen, Monmouthshire, Merthyr Tydfil, Anglesey, Blaenau Gwent and Pembrokeshire LEAs are all in special measures, meaning their education services have been judged not good enough.

Government and officials are monitoring how they improve the situation.

Mr Jones, in an interview with BBC Wales as part of its Measuring Devolution series, said that demonstrates the need to reorganise the way local government provides education.

Councils have already lost some of the responsibility to drive up standards in our schools.

That job is now in the hands of four education consortia.

Mr Jones said: "It's quite clear with six local education authorities in special measures, how can we have faith there will be consistent good delivery of education across Wales?

"That's why of course we need to make sure the future structure of local government delivers in the way we want it to.

"We need to make sure that local authorities are delivering consistently and that's not happening at the moment.

Watch the full interview with Carwyn Jones by BBC Wales Political Editor Nick Servini

'Accentuate the positives'

Mr Jones said that there were good examples, such as Ceredigion LEA, but performance must become consistent across Wales.

The Williams Commission, set up by Labour ministers, published a report in January recommending the 22 councils should be merged to between 10 and 12.

The Labour Party is due to agree its proposed new local government map for Wales this summer.

WLGA chief executive Steve Thomas said the issue will be debated at a conference next week, adding "it is time to accentuate some of the positives and not just the negative".

"The WLGA and local government is part of the system of education and we should all be pulling together to ensure that education outcomes are improved," he said.

"We have seen some really good inspections of late, not least of all Ceredigion.

"We are expecting further improvements in those areas where local authorities are currently in special measures."

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