£150,000 on ex­ter­nAl help for city schools

City coun­cil hopes or­gan­i­sa­tion can im­prove re­sults

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - News - By Joel Lamy joel.lamy@jpress.co.uk Twit­ter: @PTJoelLamy

A lit­er­acy cham­pion with ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­en­cein­pri­mary schools has hit out at the “ex­cuses” be­hindPeter­bor­ough’s ter­ri­ble SATS re­sults.

Sto­ry­teller RichardO’Neill said the city coun­cil should no­tuse­high­level­sofim­mi­gra­tion as a rea­son for it hav­ing the sec­ond­worstre­sults from pupil­sleav­ing­pri­ma­ryschool.

Mr O’Neill, a re­cip­i­ent of a ‘Lit­er­acy Hero’ award by the Na­tional Lit­er­acy Trust, gave short shrift to coun­cil leader and ed­u­ca­tion port­fo­lio holder Cllr John Holdich’s claim that Peter­bor­ough “faces a unique set of chal­lenges” from high num­bers of chil­dren mov­ing into the city or not speak­ing English as their first lan­guage.

“I think they are ex­cuses,” said Mr O’Neill, who grew up in a Ro­many trav­eller fam­ily and is now based in Lan­cashire.

“Peo­ple say trav­eller chil- dren and im­mi­grant chil­dren bring fig­ures down. I’ve worke­donquiteafew­pro­jects in the area andthat’s not been my ex­pe­ri­ence.

“Ev­ery child I have worked with, if they have a tiny level of English, with the right sup­port and in­spi­ra­tion to learn they are speak­ing as well as I can in three to four months.”

Cllr Holdich said there is good ev­i­dence that the city has a unique set of chal­lenges and that Of­sted and the Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion have ac­knowl­edged this. Ed­u­ca­tion spe­cial­ists are be­ing paid £150,000 by Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil to help im­prove pri­mary school re­sults.

The coun­cil is in­vest­ing in not- for- profit or­gan­i­sa­tion Suc­cess for All, which is based in Cathe­dral Square, to helpou­tat­five­un­der­per­form­ing schools.

It is the lat­est move by coun­cil leader and ed­u­ca­tion port­fo­lio holder Coun­cil­lor John Holdich to push Peter­bor­ough up the school rank­ings af­ter it came sec­ond last in the re­cent SATS re­sults.

Cllr Holdich, who has al­ready com­mis­sioned a re­view into the city’s ed­u­ca­tion, wrote in his Peter­bor­ough Tele­graph col­umn: “Suc­cess for All works with more than 60,000 chil­dren in more than 130 schools across the UK which face sim­i­lar chal­lenges to schools in Peter­bor­ough.

“They­doth­is­by­trans­form­ing the way­chil­dren­learn, en­cour­ag­ing­pupil­stowork­more col­lab­o­ra­tively and chang­ing the­wayteach­ersin­ter­actwith pupils in the class­room.

“The re­sults they re­port are en­cour­ag­ing with at­tain­mentlevels for dis­ad­van­taged pupils 10 per cent above the na­tional av­er­age.”

Suc­cess for All chief ex­ec­u­tive Matt Ditch­field said: “I’m very ex­cited to be work­ing­with­thecity­coun­cilonim­prov­ing out­comes for young peo­ple and I look for­ward to work­ing par­tic­u­larly with the first pi­lot group of schools to sup­port their lead­ers, staff and chil­dren.”

The­firstschool­sto­beused in the project will be cho­sen shortly and will be­gin re­ceiv­ing help af­ter the Fe­bru­ary half-term.

The coun­cil leader added: “We have a hy­poth­e­sis that in Peter­bor­ough we face a unique set of chal­lenges, a per­fect storm you might say, which sets us apart from any­where else in the coun­try.”

Cllr Holdich has also an­nounced that the coun­cil and Vi­vac­ity - which runs ma­jor leisure and cul­ture fa­cil­i­ties in the city - are jointly bid­ding for ex­ter­nal fund­ing­to­launch a book bus which would visit Peter­bor­ough schools and sup­port chil­dren and­fam­i­lies with read­ing.

The coun­cil leader added: “It’s a firm be­lief of mine that ac­tions speak louder than words and I hope you can see that we are tak­ing ac­tion to raise at­tain­ment lev­els.”

Mat­tDitch­field with Cllr June Stokes and John Holdich.

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