Monmouthshire education boss avoids vote of no confidence
4:45pm Thursday 28th February 2013 in Gwent news
MONMOUTHSHIRE council's cabinet member for education this morning survived a vote of no confidence despite last week's critical Estyn report.
Twenty two members of the administration voted against a motion put forward by Labour leader Cllr Roger Harris after Cllr Liz Hacket Pain ignored repeated calls by Labour and independent members for her resignation at a special meeting to discuss the report.
The conservative councillor said had the report, which has landed the education department in special measures, been critical of her personally she would have stood down.
But as it wasn't, the best thing she could do would be to help the council come out the other side.
She said: "I take full responsibility and the buck does stop with me. It would have been easy to walk away from it - that is what someone with no courage or tenacity would have done. I have had to think long and hard about that.
"I have had a lot of support from schools, and head teachers and parents who have said to me 'get I there and sort it out'. We need to have continuity to see this through."
"If the report was critical of me then I would have reason to go but it's not. I do accept though things have to change."
Her comments came after two and half hours of criticism from the opposition, many of who questioned how the administration didn't spot the failures earlier.
Cllr Armand Watts said he was concerned the same people responsible for failures would be the same ones trying to put things right, while Cllr Jessica Crook said more should have been done when earlier inspection Estyn reports in 2009 and 2011 indicated things were starting to slip.
Independent councillor Debby Blakeborough said a fresh set of eyes were needed to see how problems could be tackled, while Cllr Frances Taylor said the council needed to address how it would bridge the performance gap between children who receive school meals and those that don't.
Chief executive Paul Matthews said the council was now drawing up an action plan to be submitted to education minister Leighton Andrews by March 6.
He said "fresh eyes" were working on it, with six of the seven people involved were not the same people who drew up the council's pre-inspection assessment, which failed to spot problems found by Estyn.
He said an independent recovery board to be set up to oversee improvements would likely consist of one political figure, someone with corporate director experience and an ex-head teacher. He said he would also like to see the leaders of Monmouthshire's political groups involved, though it was not his decision.
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