IN yet another letter from Sir William O’Brien in last week’s Express, ‘Leaders are responsible’, he criticises the education policies of Wakefield Council. Let me set the record straight.
Whilst it is true to say that we were disappointed with the recent Ofsted report about primary schools, to say that our education department is not fit for purpose is just nonsense.
The council has been working with, and will continue to work with, primary schools’ heads, teachers and governors to improve performance as a whole. In fact this is already starting to provide results.
Our primary schools have improved since the time Ofsted carried out their evaluation, with the percentage of pupils in good and outstanding primary schools improving from 52 to 60 per cent. This improvement has taken place as more up-to-date inspections of primary schools have taken place since Ofsted published its report which have shown that our schools are improving.
Since 2010, the government changed the role of local authorities and funding regime so schools are now responsible for their own improvement. However the local authority will use all its power to intervene where a school is failing.
We have done this on 11 occasions, as Sir William knows as he was replaced as a governor in a failing school under this process. The four schools in Pontefract that were in special measures have all reached satisfactory, with nine of the 13 primary schools showing considerable improvement in 2012.
In addition, the publication only last week of the 2012 key stage two results, the most up-to-date assessment of our progress, shows that we compare favourably with primary schools in West Yorkshire and across Yorkshire and Humber, and like them we are only just below the national average for attainment and are closing the gap.
The percentage of pupils achieving level four or above in both English and maths has risen from 68 per cent in 2011 to 77 per cent in 2012, which makes us one of the most improved local authorities in the country. This follows the council’s introduction of the key stage two improvement programme, so it shows that our work with schools is already paying off.
We want to continue improving, and we are clearly moving in the right direction.
Education is vital for the future of young people throughout the district, and is a major priority for this council - and your readers should know we are totally focused on this and will continue to stand up for the residents of Wakefield.
As leader of the council I will continue to lobby for resources for our schools to improve and I will continue to support all those schools doing a tough job in tough times.
On a personal level, can I say how sad and disappointed I am that Sir William O’Brien has pursued a negative campaign against the council ever since the findings of the Pontefract Governance Review didn’t go his way.
It is important therefore that the comments of Sir William O’Brien are seen in their proper context by your readers.
COUN PETER BOX