What is SSIP?
SSIP stands for ‘Strategic School Improvement Programme’.
In September 2008, the Council announced its intention to review educational provision across the County Borough’s schools. The review will help the Council ensure that the right schools are in the right places and that they are capable of delivering an education fit for the 21st century learner.
It will inform the planning and decision making processes that will enable the Council to secure high quality schools, delivering high standards of teaching and learning – for now and into the future.
The Council has adopted four key principles, giving clarity of purpose and transparency of approach to the delivery of its school improvement programme. They are:
- standards in education
- the need for places and the accessibility of schools
- the quality and suitability of school accommodation
- effective financial management.
Why is SSIP necessary?
Having the right schools in the right places and ensuring that they are ‘fit for purpose’ is fundamental to the programme’s success. In relation to a number of areas of current provision, the Council has decided that action needs to be taken without delay. Not to take action could adversely affect the standard of education provided to the children and young people of Neath Port Talbot.
The improvement programme focuses on raising educational standards and supporting continuous improvement. At the heart of the programme is the delivery of high quality educational experiences that encourage and support pupil development - experiences that meet the aspirations of young learners, enhancing and enriching their lives and their life opportunities.
The SSIP will inevitably propose changes, these changes will involve the building of new schools, remodelling schemes, the amalgamation and closure of some schools and some different ways of working.
There is a clear expectation that all local authorities should use funding for education cost effectively. This expectation is reinforced by the Welsh Assembly Government, Estyn and the Wales Audit Office.
In a recent inspection, Estyn, the Inspectorate for Education and Training in Wales, rated Neath Port Talbot as good for its access and school places arrangements. The inspectors found evidence of effective decision-making and prioritisation about school improvement and school organisation. They also found that the SSIP has led to a series of decisions and proposals that are well attuned to the specific needs of young people and their communities. In their report, the inspectors highlight the need to reduce surplus places in Neath Port Talbot schools in line with the key principles in the SSIP and require the Education Service to action plan accordingly.