Appointment of Head of Education at failing Wrexham Council Education Department

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    The advert for the new Head of Education at Wrexham Council Education Department has now closed and shortlisting has taken place. The interviews are scheduled for 23 and 24 March. The post has been advertised with a salary range of between £86,700 to £96,900, although apparently, this is currently under review.

    Who will be making this very important appointment and ensuring that the mistakes of previous appointments to this post are not repeated?



    Virtual interviews are set to be held to choose Wrexham Council’s next Chief Education Officer, starting on Monday 27th April.
    Ian Roberts, the current Head of Education, whose salary stands at around £86,000 a year has been in post for the last 3 years.
    His complete failure in this post was confirmed in the 2019 Estyn Inspection Report, which stated that Wrexham Council Education Department is causing significant concern.
    Ineffective intervention and support over many years has resulted in only limited improvement in examination results in most Wrexham secondary schools.
    Bryn Alyn and Clywedog Schools are in Special Measures.
    Ian Roberts announced he was stepping down on the eve of the publication of the damning inspection report by Estyn.
    Surely, the Councillors involved in the selection process will ensure that they appoint someone with the experience of working in secondary education who can address the challenges facing education in Wrexham.
    The young people of Wrexham deserve so much better.


    In another lifetime, I would have loved to have done this job. Whilst many people presume that reinvigorating the Secondary Schools in Wrexham will be a challenge, the real challenge is to go up against a system of Education that holds back the children of Wales before it begins.

    Many will argue it’s about Resources. Of course, it’s always about Resources…..but that won’t sort out the problem. Others will argue that Wrexham has various social and economic problems that constrain success. That’s always the way……but constraints are there to be overcome.

    The real challenge is to find a way of ensuring that each child of Secondary School age in Wrexham can fulfil his or her potential…..and in order to do that, that each and every child is placed in a school setting that matches the child’s ability, attitude, aspirations and endeavour. That is currently not occurring



    There are a few bits of information missing on these comments – the filing in our schools has not come about during Ian Roberts time but we have been failing our young people for more than 10 years- a period that covers a longer period.
    School improvement was moved to an all North Wales group called GWE – where have they been in supporting schools – total failure.
    Teachers can easily move from within an hours drive time — do you stay in n area with failing schools or move to areas and schools not in such a bad state.
    Parents are vital in a childs education and asiration — what support is their for parents to assist their children.
    A Director is only as good as the team below – any new Director faces huge challenges to motivate and identfy other leaders that can help get Wrexham education out of the pit it is in at the moment.



    I don’t know how easily transferrable this is across to Secondary, but at Primary school level this whole lockdown and distance learning has been an absolute shot in the arm.

    I am sure many schools were using seesaw before to engage with parents and children outside of school (ours wasn’t). But it has generated an amazing partnership now between kids, teachers and parents in terms of assisting in learning. I believe they are trying to provide struggling families with tablets or laptops so they are also able to benefit from this new way of learning – as there’s always the risk that worse off might get left behind.

    Before lockdown occurred I was worried my kids would fall behind in their development because of school closure. However, the whole teacher sets tasks via seesaw means my kids want us to login and see what has been set on any particular day and then they want to do the work. This wasn’t the case when it was sent home on paper once a week. Teachers are able to provide assistance and feedback to each pupil as they upload the work and parents can also comment with any concerns.

    Teachers are also able to point parents in the right direction of additional learning resources (this might have been done by a letter and forgotten in the past). Previously if we wanted to help our kids learn at home it was trial and error – buy a numbers or writing book and get limited enthusiasm from your kids because it would be different from how their teachers were getting them to do it.

    At the moment lockdown home schooling means doing PE with Joe Wicks every morning, as well as going out for exercise in the afternoon, doing the usual numbers and writing and reading tasks, but then alongside even more creative tasks that kids mumble vaguely about doing in school and they bring together some glued together cereal boxes. But now we have a whole raft of arts and craft stuff used every day that might have only been bought on a whim or as an encouraging present from a well meaning relative and used once in the past before being forgotten about.

    Special projects set out as well have captured the imagination of children as they get to choose what they want to do rather than being told what to do – this week they were asked to do about animals. We’ve all learned to hone video skills as well as we’re being required to upload videos of activity, which actually means planning and preparing content beyond a level you’d do to upload on Snapchat or TikTok. Getting kids to learn lines and present confidently on video, can only boost their chances later on.

    When the kids finally go back to school hopefully this increased collaboration in learning between parent/teacher/pupil will continue bringing up the overall performance levels of children.

    Now, If we circle round to back to the issue Alun describes:

    The real challenge is to find a way of ensuring that each child of Secondary School age in Wrexham can fulfil his or her potential…..and in order to do that, that each and every child is placed in a school setting that matches the child’s ability, attitude, aspirations and endeavour. That is currently not occurring

    Is there a way to use the technology and techniques we have at our disposal to help simulate a home learning assistance environment that can support a child in any school setting, to deal with other shortfalls and failings we might face in Secondary Schools in Wrexham?

    This might be one angle the new Head of Education could look into. It’s not as easy for parents to readily help their kids with Secondary School work as their own educational level of ability won’t necessarily be up to scratch across all topic areas. Teenagers still have to do a lot of homework at home, so is there a way for schools to provide some kind of digital mentoring programme for those who struggle with homework – teaching assistants, other pupils of higher ability (they use this in American schools). Likewise there’s a lot of revision also required at home, again mentoring with this would be a big help.

    Also it’s easier for parents to monitor child progress if it’s given to them on an online portal, because that’s all parents are used to checking for updates on Facebook etc… It’s how we absorb information now and perhaps even pupils would take online feedback better than written in a book or given verbally. So any issues that a particular pupil may have – it works three ways, either a pupil, parent or teacher could express the issue online as they might have more confidence to do so than face to face. Then either a face to face meeting could be set-up or even a video chat (we’re all used to these now) to attempt to resolve the issue.

    Perhaps even in classrooms, a willingness to embrace networking technology would allow specialist teachers from better performing schools to give remote video lessons into classrooms at struggling schools who can’t afford as many specialists. Or even at school management levels, video conferences for local head teachers and those further afield to troubleshoot issues they might each be facing.

    This isn’t a be it and end all solution as there will still be pressing issues that bring overall performance down, but there’s been a number of discussions on education before and believe me all this time at home, seeing how my kids learn and seeing how technology and multiple learning sources can help them improve has given me a lot more ideas than I’ve ever had before.

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