Monday, 5 June 2017

Schools In Reading Are Improving


This is a copy of my opinion article in this week's READING CHRONICLE


Schools in Reading are improving

A quick glance at our Key Stage 2 results shows that of 152 councils in England, Reading was judged to be 149th in 2013, 130th in 2014, 103rd in 2015 and 50th in 2016. And this year for the first time in 10 years schools in the borough achieved above the national average results.


This progress should not be taken for granted. We can note, but not be complacent, that the majority of children in Reading already study in good or outstanding schools. Our vision is for ALL pupils have that facility as soon as possible.

We must continue to offer school leaders, teachers, pupils and their families, a positive message of hope and constructive help. Practical steps have already included:

  • Undertaking a £61million school expansion plan, ranging from 10 new classrooms at Alfred Sutton Primary to a completely brand new school at Reading Girls.
  • Launching a 3 year schools’ performance improvement plan, which specifically includes support for closing the gaps in academic achievement and reducing the obstacles to recruiting and retaining teachers and school staff.

However, it is frustrating how little direct power the council actually has on the delivery of education in the town. For example:

  • The long-awaited decisions on the possible development of a new primary at Mapledurham is stuck somewhere in Whitehall
  • Oxfordshire County council recently launched a consultation on closing a secondary school where the majority of pupils come from Reading without even telling us.
  • Free schools can pop up anywhere rather than where a new school may be needed, regardless of the impact on existing schools.
  • Schools can decide to turn themselves into academies without any refunding of millions of pounds borrowed by the council for their improvement.

I am proud of the work Reading Council does in a relentless search to improve schools for all.

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