Education chief reveals his vision for outstanding schools

Coun Wayne Daley.
Coun Wayne Daley.

‘I’m no longer prepared to accept mediocre or failing schools’ – that’s the starting point for the councillor now responsible for education in Northumberland.

When the Conservatives became the largest party on the county council in May, Coun Wayne Daley became the cabinet member for children’s services, a role he desperately wanted given his background in schools – he works at Churchill Community College in North Tyneside.

Coun Daley has previously talked in depth about pupils’ attainment in the county not being what it should be.

And he is clear that he wants to work with partners to do something about it now that he is in charge, saying: “I really do want to have a transformative effect. I don’t want same old, same old.”

His comments come as schools reflect on last week’s A-Level results ahead of the release of GCSE results today.

“Northumberland has challenges, all areas have challenges, but I think what has been lacking is an overall vision for achieving outstanding education,” Coun Daley said.

“By working together and with strong leadership, you can have a transformative effect on young people.”

It’s a big statement and a grand plan from a man who is clearly passionate about his new role and the potential to make important changes, but his vision will require others to buy into it.

“We are at the beginning of a transformative journey,” he said. “I’m hoping it’s not just a one-term wonder.

“I want this to be a vision for a generation. That’s why I want a buy-in from all parties because it’s beyond politics.”

Nonetheless, Coun Daley remains a politician and he does criticise his predecessors at County Hall: “The previous administration seems to have taken its eye off the ball so there’s a genuine commitment from this administration, but it’s not going to happen overnight.”

In north Northumberland, one of the major changes overseen by the previous Labour council was the switch to two-tier education in the Alnwick Partnership.

Coun Daley said: “It’s about managing the transition points and I’m told that’s being managed well, but clearly we won’t get it right in every case. It absolutely should be the case that a child gets the best education and some of these structures are being changed in important ways for the future. People need to focus on what outcomes are for young people, not necessarily the structures. If you have a school which is providing an outstanding education then I think parents will support that. But this is going to be driven by schools and, as a council, some of our powers are very limited.”