Cllr Wayne Daley is Conservative County Councillor for Cramlington North and Cabinet Member responsible for Children’s Services across Northumberland.
This week Northumberland Conservatives continued the process of listening to, and engaging with, parents, pupils, teachers, and governors concerning the consultation on schools and education in West Northumberland. At a packed event at the Hexham Mart function suite last Saturday Wayne Daley spoke with many people and reflects here on the process and his hopes for the future:
‘The meeting on Saturday was lively and informative - it was democracy in action with people exchanging views, suggestions and potential solutions. This is exactly what we need if we are to come to a consensus on a positive way forward for our schools in West Northumberland.
‘This consultation was launched to begin the process of addressing some fundamental challenges we face in certain schools in West Northumberland. For us to have buried our heads in the sand, like the previous Labour Council did, would have been irresponsible and not in the best long-term interests of children and young people in this area. The issues are complex, but they need to be solved.
‘Since we took office in May we have proved that we listen.
‘We listened to the concerns about post 16 transport – Labour’s charge of £600 per student to attend school and college beyond 16. We have scrapped this tax on education. We listened to parents in urban areas about lack of school places – we have created 569 new school places in hot spot urban areas in the last few months. We listened to concerns about special needs – and we have invested over £3 million creating new places in Hexham and in the south east of the County.
‘Northumberland Conservatives are listening, and we are really pleased that so many are responding to the informal consultation. I am grateful for the time and energy that so many have invested in this process already but there is still time to put your views across, and I would urge people to get involved before the deadline of 9th April.
‘I am confident that as we move from informal consultation to outlining some plans for the future, we can work together on innovative solutions that meaningfully address the challenges we face, whilst still acknowledging the value of our small schools and the uniqueness of our rural geography. That is my genuine hope.’