TORFAEN Council’s Executive Member for Education was one of a number of cabinet members to be replaced ahead of an extraordinary council meeting on the recent school categorisation and performance.

At a council meeting on Tuesday, council leader Cllr Anthony Hunt reshuffled his cabinet, with only two councillors retaining their roles.

Cllr David Yeowell has been replaced by Cllr Richard Clark, the former Executive Member for Economy, Skills and Regeneration.


Also among the changes were Cllr Jo Gauden, who has been appointed as Cllr Clark’s replacement, and Cllr Fiona Cross has been appointed Executive Member for Children, Families and Communities.

Cllr Mandy Owen, who formerly occupied that role, is now the Executive Member for Environment.

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(Cllrs Mandy Owen and Fiona Cross have switched cabinet roles in the reshuffle. Picture Torfaen council)

Cllr Yeowell has been appointed the Executive Member for Corporate Governance and Performance - replacing Cllr Gauden.

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(Cllr Jo Gauden has been appointed Executive Member for Economy, Skills and Regeneration. Picture: Torfaen Council)

The extraordinary meeting later on Tuesday was called for by Independent councillors to address the authority’s continued poor performance in educational standards across Torfaen Secondary schools.

In the recent school categorisation, three of the borough’s six secondary schools were placed in the red banding, meaning they are in need of the highest level of support.

These are Croesyceiliog, Cwmbran High School and Ysgol Gyfun Gwynllyw.

Abersychan Comprehensive and West Monmouth. Schools are in the amber category.

Only St. Albans R.C. High is in the green category.

Cllr Richard Clark, who was named as the new cabinet member for education just hours before, outlined his plans to address the concerns.

Cllr Clark said he plans to set up an education advisory group, which would include the leader of the council, the cabinet member, the chair of the scrutiny, a member from each party and an individual independent councillor.

He said: “It is also my intention to meet with the head teachers, particularly the secondary heads to know their perspective on it all.

“I want to have confidence that all the arrangements we have put in place for learners are as good as it can be.”

The head of the council’s education service Dermot McChrystal said that while the primary schools in the county borough had succeeded in the capacity to self-improve, the same couldn’t be said for the secondary schools.

He said: “Categorisation isn’t just about performance, it can also be about absence of key leadership members.

“The performance of secondary schools remains an area of significant concern, with the majority of our schools requiring significant and often the highest levels of support.

“We meet with schools categorised red on a monthly basis to look at those actions and review what progress they’re making against the post-inspection action plan.

“It’s very clear that the over all outcomes for key stage four and five remain disappointing

“I recognise if we continue to do the same things we will continue to get the same outcomes.”

Cllr Huw Bevan said the council needed “a radical change of thought process.”

And former cabinet member for education Cllr David Yeowell said he “welcomed” a new perspective.

Cllr Hunt thanked the members of his cabinet for their hard work, and said the council would need to “leave no stone unturned” in order to improve results.