Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Reading council needs to be more transparent over education

At a recent education committee I was disappointed that there was no breakdown of A-level (Key stage 5) performance separating out the selective (grammar) schools. So I asked the council to provide me with this information – see the bar chart above showing average points score (APS) per examination entry.

Key to the bar chart:
LA = local authority (Reading)
LA non-selective = how we do if you remove the selective (grammar) schools
SN average = how our statistical neighbours are doing (Brighton, Bristol, Southampton and so on)

Because the selective schools take academic high achievers from across an area which goes far beyond Reading's boundaries, including them in our overall results distorts things massively as you can see from the graph.

As you can see when the selective schools are removed the Local Authority goes from being one of the best local authorities in the country to worse than our statistical neighbours, and worse than the England average.

Last week OFSTED slammed the council over the performance of Reading schools with regards to GCSE results and students on free school meals. Again this was another area that was mentioned in the report, but the scale of the problem was not.

If the council is going to improve its performance at working with schools to better educate our young people, first of all it needs to be transparent about what the current situation is and recognise the scale of the challenge ahead of it.

Now that many schools in Reading are academies and following government cuts to council education improvement budgets, the council is less able to support schools. But along with the regional school commissioners the council is still accountable and responsible for making sure Reading children receive a great education. Green councillors will keep lobbying the Council to make this a reality.