Town schools are failing to make grade
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.”