Challenge 2: Pembrokeshire

March, we took the programme to the furthest west we have been to see the first challenge ever to be held in Wales.

Location - Pembrokeshire County Council, Haverfordwest, Wales

Dates - 4 & 5 March 2020

Challenge question

How can the council support post-16 learners to ensure that they are on the right course, in the right place and help achieve the council’s vision of “every learner achieves more that they thought possible?

Team captains - Team Trailblazers captained by Emma Shepherd (Disability Strategy Lead for Employment, LB Croydon). Team Resilience captained by Jack Kennedy (Economic Development Manager, Basingstoke and Deane BC).

Context and challenges of brief

Pembrokeshire lies in South West Wales, with a population of 125,000 of which 20 per cent are Welsh speakers. Much of Pembrokeshire is rural - it is home to the only coastline designated as a National Park in the UK, there are no dual carriageways, it is 75km from the nearest motorway, and rail services are slow and limited. Many students travel long distances to access their courses at one of the five sixth forms or the college.

Education is the number one priority for the council. New school buildings have been the single largest component of their capital programme with funding accessed from the Welsh Government’s 21st century schools programme and for new Welsh language education provision in order to meet parental demand.

The focus of the challenge was to give fresh perspectives to the council’s work in accelerating their improvement journey to achieve better governance, teaching, a more partnership-based approach, and ultimately improve outcomes for students and ensure that all young people have equality of opportunity.

Contestants’ learning and development on this challenge

  • Understanding new perspectives through experiencing the different political, governance, legislative and financial landscape for Welsh councils.
  • Most of the contestants do not have a background in education so had the opportunity to learn more through site visits to education settings and meetings with students, head teachers, and education officers at the council.
  • The teams saw contestants being switched around so that everyone gets the chance to work with each other and learn about their and other’s ways of working and leadership styles.
  • Gaining an insight into life in a rural council.
  • Presenting to judging panel and wider audience of Councillors, Officers and Members of Pembrokeshire Transformation board.

Outputs and presentations

Business case of no more than three pages plus a 10 min presentation of the proposals with 10 min Q&A from the judges.

Judges and decision and reasoning

  • Claire Holloway – Head of Corporate Services (LGA Head Judge)
  • Cllr Neil Prior– Cabinet Member for Transformation and IT, LGA Improvement and Innovation Board
  • Cllr Guy Woodham – Cabinet Member for Education
  • Cllr David Simpson – Leader with responsibility for Corporate Matters
  • Stephen Richards-Downes – Acting Director of Children’s and Schools

The judges unanimously agreed Team Resilience as the winner with their coherent business case focused on the aspirations of the students, their innovative digital platform idea, and slick presentation.