Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

A Tiff in Cardiff as Miffed Heads Speak Out: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

A Tiff in Cardiff as Miffed Heads Speak Out: News

Article excerpt

The local authority is attacked in a letter to the Welsh government.

It likes to claim that it is creating a "proud capital", but Cardiff Council has a less than proud recent history when it comes to its schools. And during the past fortnight it became more embarrassing still, when primary school headteachers from across the city banded together to attack the performance of its education department.

Forty members of heads' union NAHT Cymru have penned an angry missive to the Welsh government and schools inspectorate Estyn complaining of "systemic" and "top-down failure" at the local authority. The letter accuses the council's education department of not knowing its schools well enough and of damaging its own ability to improve standards.

This row is set against the background of other, ongoing problems. For example, the NAHT has been involved in two long-running and bitter disputes with Cardiff Council in two of its primary schools.

Staff at Danescourt Primary have taken part in several strikes and protests over the suspension of four teachers who allegedly criticised the headteacher, while parents at St Alban's RC Primary have protested against the suspension of three members of staff by the head over allegations that they were trying to "undermine" her authority.

All parties involved in the two disputes have attacked the council's handling of matters.

Last month, the council also came under fire from a number of politicians in the National Assembly, who accused it of "dithering" over its plans to work with neighbouring authorities to improve its schools.

Last year, Cardiff became the only council in Wales not to sign up to one of the four "regional school improvement services", which the Welsh government is introducing in time for September in a bid to improve the work of its 22 education departments. It withdrew from talks with Newport, Monmouthshire, Torfaen and Blaenau Gwent councils, but has since announced plans to join Bridgend, Merthyr, Rhondda Cynon Taf and the Vale of Glamorgan councils.

And last January, Estyn judged Cardiff's education services to be only "adequate" after an inspection, which education minister Leighton Andrews later said was "barely good enough".

A board of key stakeholders and partners, including the Welsh government and the Welsh Local Government Association, was set up to implement the report's recommendations. …

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