The Labour Cabinet in RCT today voted through their phase 1 cuts proposals with barely a pause. The consultation proved next to worthless as they went ahead and did what they wanted anyway. The nursery education cuts will go ahead with just slight revision. Instead of starting the September after their fourth birthday then the starting date for full time will be the term after their fourth birthday, and the proposals will not come into effect until September 2014 rather than April as originally planned.
Prior to the obligatory raising of the hands in the air by the Cabinet Cllr Mike Powell addressed the meeting:
We all know the story of Paul and his sudden conversion on the road to Damascus. Like many people I am hoping that the Cabinet will undergo a similar transformation with regard to its nursery education proposals.
The report would suggest otherwise. It is very selective with regard to the consultation feedback, and disappointingly there is no indication of where many of the responses came from - how many elected members for example responded on behalf of their constituents?
The Equality Impact Assessments are a waste of time - we already knew who would be affected and how. They are lacking in detailed figures and simply brush aside the negative effects. The issue of Welsh Medium Schools is hardly addressed at all and no regard given to concerns about the effect on those.
On the other hand little real preparation appears to have been done that would mitigate any of the problems if this proposal goes ahead. Certainly nothing that would make it practical to introduce a new system from April.
The report speaks of schools offering wrap around care, but no discussions have been had with governors - in fact governors have been ignored in all of this.
The feedback from the Equality Impact Assessment and the suggestions made are ludicrous.
There is talk of part time education increasing capacity at schools - yet how is this going to work if in the same report the suggestion is that schools make up the shortfall in terms of childcare themselves. Where are they going to go?
There is no detail of how any of it would be implemented. Is the proposal to have two intakes per day, morning and afternoon? Staff wise how could this happen? Is the expectation that staff work mornings only, or that fewer staff work all day? If two sessions are operating when do staff have lunch?
This report is selective in its feedback and provides no answers.
The ineptitude is obvious in one suggestion which is that
"Schools may also wish to consider utilising funding, such as the Pupil Deprivation Grant, in implementing alternative methods of delivering the service."
I would be interested to know who actually wrote this because it is a misleading suggestion. The PDG is for a specific purpose and the Education Minister has made it very clear that if not used correctly the grant will be clawed back. He has been made aware of this section of the report and will I am sure be watching closely.
Hopefully the lightening bolts will have struck and the Cabinet will see sense and kick this suggestion into the long grass where it belongs or these questions will all need answering very quickly.