Top man will get support in safeguarding say cabinet members
10:20am Saturday 20th October 2012 in News
One director CAN handle the high pressure county council jobs of director of education and social services, cabinet members have said.
Western Telegraph chief reporter Katy Woodhouse sat down with cabinet members Huw George and Sue Perkins last week to discuss the ongoing issues of educational attainment and child safeguarding services.
Cllr George, cabinet member for education and Welsh language, and Cllr Perkins, cabinet member for child safeguarding, said that improvements to safeguarding services were ‘everybody’s business’.
“Everyone is signed up to making education and social services safeguarding our strongest department, for the sake of our children that has to be where we are putting our emphasis,” added Cllr Perkins.
Cllr Perkins – previously Labour leader on the council – said that she had been working closely with director of social services Jake Morgan, who will also take over education and children’s services, following the retirement of Graham Longster at the end of the year.
Asked if this was too much for one person to cover, Cllr Perkins said that question had been fully explored before the decision was taken.
Steps will also be taken to ensure Mr Morgan is fully supported, Cllr Perkins said.
“To make sure that safeguarding is completely embedded into everything that is done with young people, the link with Jake is going to be more seamless.
“It’s our job to make sure that role is fully supported – if it needs deputy directors or whatever, we have to make sure it’s there.
Whatever it takes we will do it. It is done in other councils and it works,” she added.
Cllr George said: “Jake is thought of highly throughout Wales and has already made his mark here. Instead of being reactive we are going to be proactive on safeguarding.”
Both cabinet members said that the council was now seeing improvement in educational standards and the “dip” which resulted in a poor Estyn report for the year 2010 had been overcome.
Provisional GCSE results show that 56% of pupils obtained GCSEs, including maths and English, with Pembrokeshire jumping to second place in the south Wales network of local authorities from sixth in 2011.
Cllr George, highlighted that Pembrokeshire came second only to Powys, which, he said did not have the same areas of deprivation.
One of the key factors in this improvement was an increase in attendance, he said.
“We have now got pupil support officers, we have someone working in the schools so if a child is not attending they go out into the area and speak to the parents – it’s not knocking on doors saying get little Jimmy in or else – it’s can we help? Can we support?
"Lots of people have problems and the idea is this mustn’t affect the child and their education if we put this support in,” said Cllr Perkins.
Other improvements include cross-school training, focusing on the child as an individual, and the Springboard project which is helping more young people continue in education.
“We’re absolutely delighted with the results but this is something we are continuing with because the highest thing on our agenda – our children – come first,” said Cllr Perkins.