Pembrokeshire's education row councillor Huw George quits

image captionThe council's education services have been under scrutiny since 2011

A councillor in charge of education at a local authority accused of failures in safeguarding children is stepping down from the role.

Pembrokeshire council's education services have been under scrutiny since 2011 following claims children were locked in a padded "time-out" room.

Two reports in December from schools inspectorate Estyn and the auditor general were also highly critical.

Councillor Huw George will now be responsible for the environment.

Council Leader, Councillor Jamie Adams, said Mr George had asked not to continue in the role "following recent events".

Instead he will exchange roles with Councillor Ken Rowlands who is responsible for environmental and regulatory services.

Mr Adams said: "Councillor Rowlands is well qualified to undertake his new duties as he has spent a distinguished career in education, spending many years as a head teacher."

The leader added that Mr George would retain his cabinet responsibilities for the Welsh language.

The council's education services have been under scrutiny since 2011, with Estyn calling them "unsatisfactory".

Last year the Welsh government sent a panel of experts - the Pembrokeshire Ministerial Board - to oversee the council after serious problems were highlighted in safeguarding children.

Allegations had emerged about children being locked in rooms and the hands of one being tied by a teacher.

'Challenging schools'

In a report published in December, Estyn identified what it said were important shortcomings in leadership of the education services.

It also said the council should be placed in special measures - a status applied by Estyn when it considers that schools fail to supply an acceptable level of education and appear to lack the leadership capacity to improve.

The inspectorate said that officials and senior councillors have been too slow to recognise key issues in safeguarding children and to change the culture within the education service.

It highlighted problems including poor performance in primary schools and inadequate arrangements for supporting "challenging schools".

In a separate report published in December, the Auditor General for Wales, Huw Vaughan Thomas said while the council had made some positive changes in its arrangement for safeguarding children it had not responded "with sufficient speed and rigour".

Mr George said he had enjoyed working with the county's schools, teaching staff and pupils.

"I am grateful that the Pembrokeshire Ministerial Board is recognising the progress now being made in making the necessary improvements to our education service.

"I believe the time is right to draw a line in the sand and move forward, taking advantage of the fresh perspectives that a new face will offer."

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