An unSATisfactory result

Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Thornton on Thursday column with Peterborough Telegraph's deputy editor Nigel Thornton - peterboroughtoday.co.uk

The performance of Peterborough schools in the latest SATs league table is a disgrace.

The city is rock bottom – and by some distance – signifying a huge failing of the city’s children.

And it’s not as if it’s come out of the blue or is a blip –the city has been languishing at the wrong end of most tables for far too long.

But what do we get from the powers-that-be? It’s the same old excuses – and yes they do sound like excuses rather than reasons – and some glib words about how things will get better. Again.

Anyone would think no other city had to deal with problems such as migrant children. And no-one can say city schools are under-resourced with the millions and millions of pounds that has been spent on them.

Council leader, and the man responsible for education in the city, Cllr John Holdich cares passionately about the education of the city’s children.

But is that enough? I’m sure Roy Hodgson cared passionately about England’s football team but he wasn’t able to deliver results.. and we know how that ended.

Peterborough points to its rate of improvement as a plus point and that’s fair enough. But to extend the football analogy, if you’re bottom of the table at Christmas with no points even if you end the season second from bottom you still get relegated.

I found this response from a council spokesman telling... and disturbing.

He said: “Results cannot be compared to previous years’ results as, following changes introduced by the government, new tests were introduced for pupils this year.’’

Maybe they can’t be compared to previous years’ (nobody was!) but they sure can be compared to all other local authorities faced with exactly the same situation as Peterborough.

A comment like that smacks of either complacency or of an organisation in institutional denial.

The city was promised a long time ago that its education performance would improve, but look at where we are now.

The council says the results will be better next year – well, they would certainly struggle to be worse – but is either unable or unwilling to explain why this will be

But where is the strategy to ensure there is a long-term improvement?

It’s time the city’s MPs, councillors, education administrators – both council officers and those who work with trusts – and teachers got together and started earning their money and/or their votes and sorted this mess out.

I didn’t include parents in that group.. but I don’t excuse them from this shambles. My eldest child starts school this week and I’m confident she will receive a good education from the school she is in. But even if she doesn’t I will accept responsibility for her performance.

And if she fails I will be a disgrace.

Braver than me

Some people have suggested that Vinney King who disarmed a man brandishing two fearsome looking knives, (pictured) who was running along Granville Street, should be awarded a medal. I wouldn’t argue with that.Mind you I wouldn’t argue with a man waving two knives either.

Mr King is certainly a very brave man and he shrugged off his actions by saying: “There were women and children around and I’ve got a wife and kids and I just did what I’d expect any man in that situation to do.’’

Admirable sentiments, but I’m pretty certain if I’d have been in Mr King’s situation I wouldn’t have done what he did.

Perhaps that makes me a coward but if it does I can live with that. Live is the key word because if I acted like that and ended up losing my life as a result my wife and children would have been proud of me, but they would also have been very angry with me.

Work to be done

The work by Peterborough City Council to spruce up the heart of our city is an undoubted success story.

There will be some who will always hate the Cathedral Square fountains but the city centre as a whole is surely better for the public realm work.

So it’s hard to quibble with the news that Lower Bridge Street is the latest area to get a makeover. But I’m going to, quibble that is, because the priority should be to upgrade Broadway. Crossing from a smart Long Causeway it’s like entering another country. It is in urgent need of a revamp.

Diary Of A Bad Dad

Well that’s that, Preschooler T, formerly known as Toddler T and Baby T is no more. As I write this, my little girl is experiencing her first day at school. I hope she’s coping better than me and her mum.

I’m sure she will be. Certainly in the run-up she was as unfazed by the prospect of ‘big school’ as she is of two scoops of chocolate ice cream.

Unlike Mrs T, whose bottom lip has been on the point of complete collapse for the last few months. Me, I’ve just had Pink Floyd’s Another Brick In The Wall on repeat.

It’s a momentous occasion (although I can’t remember my first day at school) and I keep feeling I should mark it in some special way.

Maybe a “personalised’’ gift that half the population possess? Or a season ticket to Elland Road? Did I ever tell you I wanted to call her Ellen Rose? I got the red card from mum on that one.

I suggested that I could pass on all my worldly wisdom as she sets out on a new part of her life journey. But as MrsT pointed out we don’t smoke and therefore don’t have the back of a fag packet.

In the end I settled for giving Schoolgirl T an extra big hug while whispering in her ear: “Whatever you do, don’t eat the semolina.’’