Schools across Wakefield district ‘to be rated good by next year’

Ofsted said Wakefield Council made improvements.
Ofsted said Wakefield Council made improvements.

Wakefield Council is on target to get all schools in the district rated good or better by next year, education bosses said.

It comes after Ofsted inspectors said the authority had made “significant changes” to help schools improve.

Wakefield Council service director John Wilson

Wakefield Council service director John Wilson

In November 2013, the council was judged to be ineffective at supporting school improvement.

But a follow-up inspection in December last year found the quality of schools is improving at a faster rate than the national averages.

John Wilson, the council’s corporate director for children and young people, took up his post in June 2013.

He said the council’s ambition is to have all schools rated good or outstanding by 2016.

Mr Wilson said: “The old system of telling schools what was wrong and how to fix it was out of date.

“We now establish a better relationship with schools and try to work in partnership.

“School improvement officers visit schools between three and six times a year, which they did not before, and discuss progress being made.”

Problems with local education were first highlighted back in August 2011, when figures showed the district’s primary schools to be among the worst in the country for teaching basic English and maths.

The report also found more than a third of pupils leaving primary school were not equipped for secondary school education.

The council was inspected in November 2013 because of concerns over pupil achievement, the quality of education and training on offer for 16 to 18-year-olds and the below average number of schools that were judged to be good or outstanding.

But a follow-up visit last month found the council had made significant improvements.

The report said attainment levels at Key Stages 1 and 2 were rising and the progress of Key Stage 2 pupils rose at a faster rate than the national average.

Mr Wilson said: “When the report came out in November 2013, it was very critical and we had to take it on the chin.

“We needed to make the local authority work better with schools and that’s what we have done.

“The new model opens up dialogue with the schools and creates a better flow of information.”

Coun Olivia Rowley, cabinet member for children and young people, said: “The changes have been really positive. There are still a few obstacles but we are working hard to give the children the best education possible.”