THE FIRST definite proposals for how Southampton City Council and the Isle of Wight Council could share services are to be discussed by councillors next week.
The IW Council’s cabinet will on Tuesday (11 Oct) consider a paper to engage its cross-Solent neighbour to provide services to help improve education on the Island.
The Island council has historically struggled to recruit officers to work in this area and has been forced to employ consultants which has raised issues of continuity. However it is now poised to turn to Southampton City Council as part of an emerging relationship between the two authorities under which they will share expertise.
Details of the initial proposal are contained in cabinet papers published today (Monday 3 October) in advance of next Tuesday’s meeting. The arrangement will include the IW Council offering reciprocal services to Southampton City which means the Island authority should save money as well as engaging the expertise it requires.
“The IW Council has just switched to a two tier schools system and as Southampton has been operating this model for some time we are now educationally as well as geographically well suited to benefit from this arrangement,” said Cllr Dawn Cousins, cabinet member for children’s services and education, who will introduce the paper.
“It would provide us with immediate access to a broader range of expertise that we are currently able to engage. It also gives our staff the opportunity to work on a broader scale as well as promoting the sharing of expertise across head teachers in both local authorities.”
Cllr Cousins said the arrangement had been met with an initially positive reaction from schools.
Cabinet is being recommended to agree to develop a working relationship with Southampton City Council for school improvement and related educational functions covering the 2011/12 school year.
Councillor Jeremy Moulton is Southampton City Council’s cabinet member for Children’s Services. He said: “A great deal of very positive work has been done in Southampton schools in the last few years to ensure that children receive the best possible education and that the city has learning at its very heart. Schools have built a strong community, sharing leadership and expertise for the benefit of all. This has led to year-on-year improvement in attainment at all levels so it makes good sense to share our practices with colleagues on the Isle of Wight.
“I hope this marks the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship between our councils which will help us provide even better services for our residents and improve value for money.”
The full paper can be accessed via the following link: http://www.iwight.com/council/committees/cabinet/11-10-11/Paper G.pdf