A NEW education service to help schools improve has been agreed by Carmarthenshire Council leaders, who hope it will be more efficient than its predecessor.
The authority is teaming up with Swansea and Pembrokeshire councils to deliver the service, Partneriaeth.
It will replace Education through Regional Working (ERW), whose effectiveness had been under scrutiny.
ERW also included three other other councils – Powys, Ceredigion and Neath Port Talbot.
Speaking at a Carmarthenshire cabinet meeting, Cllr Glynog Davies, who has the education portfolio, said those three councils wanted to buy in services from Partneriaeth, which would be allowed.
He said getting the draft agreement in place for the new service had been a huge piece of work.
“Believe me, trying to get the legal aspect sorted was quite a challenge,” he said.
The cabinet report said the rationale behind Partneriaeth was the need to consider a smaller entity than ERW, value for money, transparency, stronger governance on decision-making and high quality professional learning.
Deputy leader Mair Stephens, said she was pleased that education portfolio holders would have a role in the new service as “they are the people who know exactly what is happening”.
She added: “I think it’s going to be a ‘streamed-down’ service and I think that in itself will make it more efficient.”
Council leader Emlyn Dole, who will also have a role in Partneriaeth, said it offered flexibility which was lacking in ERW.
For now ERW will remain in force to wind up its business and establish all outstanding liabilities.
Partneriaeth will, like ERW, be funded via council and Welsh Government contributions.
Swansea Council’s cabinet has also approved the legal agreement to establish the new service.
ERW was set up in 2014 and had an annual budget of around £35 million, more than half of which went straight to schools in the form of pupil deprivation grants.
Speaking in 2020, Swansea’s then cabinet member for education, Cllr Jennifer Raynor, said working with ERW “over the last few years has been extremely difficult.”
She said its creation in April, 2014, seemed a very long time ago, and that back then “it was a very different landscape for education”.