As usual Retired Hack does a thorough job, in his own words. Ed
Former Isle of Wight Council boss Steve Beynon has defended his education record on the Island, claiming he was only following orders, OnTheWight can exclusively reveal.
Chief executive and Director of Education Mr Beynon, given a redundancy pay-off as one of the last acts of the Conservative administration before this year’s elections, also variously blames Ofsted, the Island’s schools, and a parents’ pressure group for the state of affairs he left behind, with schools’ performance statistics firmly anchored at or near the bottom of national league tables.
Ofsted laid blame with council
Only recently a damning special Ofsted report into school improvement arrangements laid the blame firmly at the door of the Council’s oversight role.
The former chief executive has yet to take up that invitation – indeed he has also yet to take up OnTheWight’s invitation to directly comment on Ofsted blasting the IWC handling of the Island’s schooling during his reign.
However, an email has come into OnTheWight’s possession which suggests that, whether or not he is ready to explain, he is certainly not ready to apologise.
The email takes the form of a response to someone (an OnTheWight reader, unbeknownst to him) who expressed an interest in using the services of Mr Beynon’s new consultancy firm, apEynon, to help in the setting up of a Free School.
He is asked to comment on the obvious discrepancies between the somewhat immodest claims made on his LinkedIn page and the findings of the Ofsted report.
Beynon’s list of excuses
His recent email claims include:
- 2012 Key Stage 2 results were the best ever for the Island.
(Reality:The KS2 league tables can be found here, and the Island’s position can be summarised as follows: bottom among 152 local authorities in two categories; 128th in one category; 141st in one category; 144th in two categories; and 149th in one category.)
- The Council “does not run any of the secondary schools”; funds for school improvement are held by the schools, not the Council; and he argued unsuccessfully with Ofsted that the Council should not therefore be held to account for schools in its area.
(Reality: Ofsted inspectors felt moved to note that “the local authority neither knows the schools well nor intervenes early enough”.)
- He warned the Council that Ofsted ratings would suffer as a result of reorganisation, but his job was to implement policy. This, he says, was “fully acknowledged” by former Council Leader David Pugh when he retired.
(Reality: Mr Beynon did not, of course, retire. He did at one stage indicate his intention to do so, then apparently changed his mind, and was subsequently made redundant at public expense before going on to offer his consultancy services as a “strong strategic leader with proven track record of addressing under-achievement”, among other things.
What Cllr Pugh actually said in February was:
“It is clear that whilst many of the major projects Steve has overseen have already delivered significant benefits for the Island, others such as the long-term benefits to the Island of schools reorganisation and the Highways PFI contract have yet to be fully realised.”
Many view the highly-critical Ofsted report as that ‘full realisation’.)
- He feels it unfair that he should be judged on “that last episode of my career” after 30 years in education, and that he has been overlooked by “those who fought the change to two tier”, an apparent reference to Standards Not Tiers, a parents’ group opposed to the large-scale closure and amalgamation of schools which formed part of the move from three to two-tier education.
No new business
OnTheWight understands that the email has not resulted in any new business for apEynon. This will doubtless come as a relief to Mr Turner who, in the wake of the recent Ofsted report said:
“It is hard to believe that even now he is touting for business as an education consultant elsewhere.
“I am writing to the Secretary of State for Education about this.”
No interruption in pension
As for the MP’s suggestion that Mr Beynon returns to the Island to face his critics, OnTheWight has contacted Steve asking whether it’s ever likely to happen. We’ve yet to receive a response.
We also asked the IWC’s head of legal services, Davina Fiore, what powers of persuasion the Council has in such matters, for example by tying his co-operation to continued payment of his substantial local government pension.
OnTheWight was told:
“In general terms the council could invite a former staff member to answer questions about his or her previous decisions, although the council has no power to require them to attend.
“Regarding to attendance of a meeting to be linked to the ongoing payment of a person’s pension, employees pay into their pension over the course of their careers and are entitled to the benefits set out in the scheme governed by national regulations.”
No word from David Pugh
We will keep readers updated, and will also report any response we get to a request for a comment we put to David Pugh on Ofsted’s damning report on the Isle of Wight Council.
David is now also ploughing the consultancy furrow at Cratus Communication. There he has a brief, and more modest, online CV which – wisely, some may feel – concentrates on topics such as his views on that old chestnut, the Fixed Link.