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Last Updated: Sunday, 23 September 2007, 14:21 GMT 15:21 UK
'Assurances' on county's schools
Rhiannon Hughes
Rhiannon Hughes has promised to deliver improvements
The leader of Denbighshire Council has given parents a guarantee that the county's schools will improve.

During the last week, two reports criticised standards in the county's education service.

Rhiannon Hughes said she would not be stepping down as leader of the council because her administration has uncovered the problems.

She said she had given "personal assurances" to the Welsh Assembly Government to deliver the improvements.

A highly-critical report by education watchdog Estyn had found failures at the council to address poor performance.

It came days after a consultants' report criticised standards in schools.

Estyn's 35-page report said children's educational performance was below average at the ages of seven, 11 and at 16 when they take their GCSEs.

Education services overall in Denbighshire have "shortcomings in important areas"
The political leadership for education is "ineffective"
No effective planning for improving education
The school improvement strategy does not focus on the key priorities and actions needed to raise standards
The council's attendance strategy has yet to have a positive impact on overall attendance levels
Source: Estyn

In 2006, Denbighshire also came 19th of the 22 authorities in Wales for the percentage of students gaining two AS/A levels.

Speaking on BBC Wales' Politics Show on Sunday, Cllr Hughes said work was already underway to address the issues.

"I have told the head teachers and governors that I will be leading this process at a strategic level working with the new member for education, councillor Sue Roberts," she said.

Cllr Dewi Owen has vacated his post as lead member for lifelong learning after the Estyn report was published.

Cllr Hughes said the council would be "developing an action plan in response to the report" at the beginning of November.

Top of list

She added it was a "complex" picture and said they would be "setting up structures and improving relationships with schools" and parents.

"I can give them a 100% guarantee - that's why we've done this work to get us to this stage.

"Education is top of our list," Cllr Hughes added.

Education Minister Jane Hutt has said the shortcomings were "unacceptable".

Denbighshire Council said it had already begun to address some of the issues and had begun to invest 470,000 a year from 2006-07 on to improve attainment at Key Stage level 3.

It also said it had improved partnership working with the social services and tackled leadership problems at schools with the worst under attainment.

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