Schools: We are on the right track

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Town Hall View - John Holdich

In De­cem­ber I made a com­mit­ment to leave no stone un­turned in the city’s chal­lenge to raise ed­u­ca­tional at­tain­ment.

It’s for this rea­son I’m pleased to an­nounce that we are in­vest­ing £150,000 in a part­ner­ship with a ci­ty­based not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion, Suc­cess for All, who will be work­ing with a num­ber of our schools.

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. They do this by trans­form­ing the way chil­dren learn, en­cour­ag­ing pupils to work more col­lab­o­ra­tively and chang­ing the way teach­ers in­ter­act with pupils in the class­room.

The re­sults they re­port are en­cour­ag­ing with at­tain- ment lev­els for dis­ad­van­taged pupils ten per cent above the na­tional av­er­age. One school that Suc­cess for All worked with in Le­ices­ter, which has many of the chal­lenges we face, was rated out­stand­ing be­cause of the lit­er­acy pro­gramme im­ple­mented by the or­gan­i­sa­tion. In its 2009 Of­sted in­spec­tors de­scribed lit­er­acy pro­vi­sion as out­stand­ing and by 2012 it was rated out­stand­ing across the board.

We’re cur­rently iden­ti­fy­ing which schools will be the first to ben­e­fit from our in­vest­ment in the part­ner­ship and we then hope to start work in those schools af­ter the half-term break at the end of Fe­bru­ary.

I promised a re­view of ed­u­ca­tion in Peter­bor­ough to un­der­stand bet­ter the unique sit­u­a­tion that we face. I’m pleased to let you know that this re­view is now un­der­way and I ex­pect Coun­cil­lor Lynne Ayres, who I have asked to lead it, to re­port back to me in the Spring.

A cru­cial as­pect is un­der­stand­ing how we can be one of the best ar­eas of the coun­try for the per­cent­age of chil­dren at­tend­ing good or out­stand­ing schools, yet have at­tain­ment lev­els below the na­tional av­er­age.

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. These chal­lenges are that we have lower than av­er­age at­tain­ment on en­try to school, high lev­els of chil­dren who move schools in-year, large num­bers of pupils who speak English as an ad­di­tional lan­guage, and many chil­dren from dis­ad­van­taged back­grounds or with ad­di­tional needs. Cllr Ayres, with sup­port from an ed­u­ca­tional spe­cial­ist, will test whether these fac­tors are in­deed im­pact­ing on at­tain­ment and if there are any other chal­lenges that we might have missed.

The re­view will be on­go­ing un­til the Spring, but in the mean­time we won’t be rest­ing on our lau­rels.

As well as work­ing with Suc­cess For All we are also talk­ing to Vi­vac­ity, the city’s cul­tural and leisure char­i­ta­ble trust, about a new scheme to get more chil­dren read­ing reg­u­larly.

There has been some great work tak­ing place in the city re­cently led by the Lit­er­acy Trust, which has im­proved read­ing rates across the city. We now want to look at how we can fur­ther their work, given its im­por­tance to the lit­er­acy of our chil­dren in the city.

Along­side Vi­vac­ity we are bid­ding for ex­ter­nal fund­ing to launch a book bus which would visit schools in the city and sup­port chil­dren and fam­i­lies with read­ing and Vi­vac­ity is ex­plor­ing part­ner­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties to de­liver a longer term read­ing ser­vice for our schools.

The Key Stage 2 SATs re­sults pub­lished in De­cem­ber showed clearly that we need to im­prove lit­er­acy lev­els in the city. I be­lieve that do­ing so will sup­port im­prove­ments in at­tain­ment across the board.

So al­though the re­view by Coun­cil­lor Ayres has only just be­gun, I hope you can see that we are al­ready tak­ing ac­tion to sup­port schools to im­prove at­tain­ment.

Last week I met with Of­sted’s Re­gional Di­rec­tor Paul Brooker, to dis­cuss the sit­u­a­tion in Peter­bor­ough. He agreed that we do face a unique chal­lenge and has agreed to share de­tails with us of schools in other ar­eas which face sim­i­lar chal­lenges to some of ours which are per­form­ing bet­ter.

Rais­ing at­tain­ment in our schools is one of the most im­por­tant chal­lenges we face in the next few years. We have to get it right for the sake of the city’s chil­dren and fail­ure is cer­tainly not an op­tion.

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. Suc­cess will not come overnight, it will take time, but I be­lieve we are on the right track.

Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil leader gives his view on the coun­cil and news and is­sues af­fect­ing you...

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