Town schools are fail­ing to make grade

Oldham Advertiser - - NEWS -

SCHOOL­CHILD­REN are at the mercy of a ‘post­code lot­tery’ – with Old­ham pupils some of the hard­est hit in the re­gion.

Ed­u­ca­tion watch­dog Of­sted’s lat­est an­nual re­port ranks Old­ham as hav­ing the least num­ber of good or out­stand­ing sec­ondary schools in the whole of Greater Manch­ester.

Only 36 per­cent of sec­ondary schools in the town were judged as hav­ing the higher rat­ings, a huge drop on last year’s 47 per cent, plac­ing the town fourth from the bot­tom na­tion­ally.

The sit­u­a­tion is no bet­ter for pri­mary schools – with the bor­ough rank­ing joint 91st with neigh­bour- ing Tame­side out of 150 coun­cils in Eng­land. This means one in five chil­dren are at pri­mary schools that are ei­ther in­ad­e­quate or need im­prov­ing.

The town also came in for spe­cific crit­i­cism for pupil be­hav­iour, with Of­sted con­sid­er­ing 42 per­cent of its sec­on­daries to have a prob­lem.

But the re­sults come as ‘no sur­prise’ to coun­cil lead­ers who have tried to com­bat the prob­lems with the cre­ation of a Old­ham Ed­u­ca­tion and Skills Com­mis­sion – OESC.

It was launched in June by for­mer ed­u­ca­tion sec­re­tary Estelle Mor­ris to look at chil­dren’s achieve­ment and progress.

Coun Amanda Chad­der­ton, cab­i­net mem­ber for ed­u­ca­tion, said: “We’re very clear that ed­u­ca­tion is fail­ing too many chil­dren in Old­ham – and we are be­ing proac­tive to iden­tify and tackle the causes. That’s why we launched the OESC – to look at all is­sues around chil­dren’s progress and at­tain­ment from early years up­wards.

“We con­sider the OESC to be the most im­por­tant piece of work we are un­der­tak­ing as a coun­cil.”

The OESC, which is led by Ms Mor­ris and sup­ported by a group of com­mis­sion­ers, will present a re­port which will set new ed­u­ca­tion stan­dards for Old­ham next sum­mer.

Coun Chad­der­ton added: “In launch­ing this com­mis­sion we give it a very clear re­mit to root out un­palat­able facts and bring back a re­port that doesn’t hold back on harsh truths.

“We are hold­ing the mir­ror up to our­selves in Old­ham in an un­prece­dented way with the coun­cil, schools, em­ploy­ers and part­ners all signed up to a gen­uine process of chal­lenge that will be un­com­fort­able for some.

“We con­sider a good ed­u­ca­tion to be an es­sen­tial foun­da­tion of any fair so­ci­ety, so I also want to be very clear about fail­ing schools.

“They should be in no doubt that where per­for­mance is not good enough, we will act. We will in­ter­vene and we will hold them to ac­count.”

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