Assembly moves to 'end uncertainty' over school reorganisation plans
Major changes to the way school reorganisations are handled have been set out by the Assembly government.
Leighton Andrews, the education minister, outlined proposals to speed up the reorganisation process and put more decision-making powers in the hands of local authorities.
Pilot schemes starting in the autumn will allow objections to reorganisation plans to be submitted and considered earlier than is currently possible.
Extra support will also be offered to local authorities to develop plans that are more likely to conform with statutory guidance.
There will also be an urgent review of current regulations around school reorganisation, which date from 1999, including proposals to cut the time limit for the public to object to plans, which could shorten the whole process by six weeks.
A public consultation on the draft regulations will be launched with a view to revised regulations coming into force by early 2011.
Mr Andrews said he would also look into changing legislation regarding school reorganisations to give councils a freer rein.
Proposals would no longer come to the attention of the Assembly government except on rare occasions when "called in" by ministers.
He said the changes would end uncertainty for parents, pupils, teachers and local authorities.