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Councillor steps down after revealing school warning notice.

17 May 2024 3 minute read
Caldicot School. Picture LDRS

Twm Owen, local democracy reporter

A councillor has referred himself to a standards body and quit his deputy opposition leader role just days after revealing a school warning notice.

Conservative Paul Pavia shocked a council scrutiny meeting when he directly questioned the chief officer for children and young people about a warning notice he’d issued to Caldicot Comprehensive School.

The officer immediately, and unusually, criticised the councillor for revealing the confidential letter.

Today Cllr Pavia apologised for “breaching the confidentiality” of the warning letter and resigned as the deputy leader of the Tory opposition group on Monmouthshire County Council.

Public Services Ombudsman for Wales

Posting to X, formerly Twitter, the Chepstow Mount Pleasant councillor, also said he’d referred himself to Public Services Ombudsman for Wales which has the power to investigate and sanction councillors if they have broken rules, including the code of conduct.

Cllr Pavia’s post stated: “I have offered a sincere apology to the Cabinet Member, Chief Officer and Chair of Governors for breaching the confidentiality of the Warning Notice letter issued by MCC to Caldicot School during this week’s Performance & Overview Committee. It was a regrettable lack of judgement.

“I’ve resigned as opposition deputy leader and have referred myself to the Ombudsman for investigation. There was no malicious intent and I remain dedicated to ensure that all our pupils, especially those in our special resource bases, receive the very best education and support.”

Cllr Pavia had revealed the letter as a the scrutiny committee discussed a review, conducted last year, of the council’s special resource bases, for pupils with additional learning needs.

Explosive

In an explosive exchange with chief officer for children and young people, Will McLean, Cllr Pavia asked about the letter the officer had sent last month to Caldicot School outlining his concerns at apparent shortcomings with the special unit based there.

During the autumn teachers staged strikes at the school as they claimed its leadership has failed to address physical and verbal abuse towards them from pupils.

It is understood Conservative opposition leader Cllr Richard John had been angered when he learned Cllr Pavia had exposed the confidential letter in the meeting that was open to the public.

Cllr Martyn Groucutt, the Labour cabinet member for education, defended Mr McLean’s response and said he believed the officer was “terribly upset” as Cllr Pavia had previously been responsible for education, until the Conservatives lost control of the council at the May 2022 elections, and they would have shared confidences.

Cllr Groucutt, who said he was aware of the letter but not its exact contents, said the warning notice is a formal process governed by legislation.

At the council meeting Mr McLean said the council, and the Gwent Education Achievement Service, is working with the school to address the concerns and he said the warning notice would have then “fallen away”.


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