EDITOR’S COMMENT: Crisis is the word to describe SATs results

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The desperately poor league position of Peterborough’s schools in the Government’s SATs league tables has provoked angry responses - not least from MP Shailesh Vara.

The latest results for Year Six pupils show Peterborough is almost rock bottom.... 149th out of 150 Local Education Authorities.

It is not an exaggeration to call this a crisis for the city.

Last week we reported on a special review into education carried out by the city council that was commissioned after last year’s SATs results which also saw the Peterborough LEA second from bottom nationally.

The review was published just in time for this week’s dismal news that our national position is just as terrible.

The city council’s portfolio holder for education Cllr Lynne Ayres described the situation as a ‘perfect storm’ of issues affecting local schools and the city had not done as well as it should in dealing with the impact of migration and the ‘churn’ of pupils - that’s putting it mildly to say the least.

But none of the issues the report outlined are unique to Peterborough. Don’t take my word for it because in September 2016 council leader John Holdich wrote regarding equally dreadful league table results: “We are all well aware of challenges that we face – challenges that are not unique to Peterborough.”

As far back as 2012 the PT reported that moderately improved results still saw the Peterborough Local Education Authority ranked as 148th out of 152 local authorities nationally – slipping from 144th in 2011.

This problem has been going on for years. The debate about the circumstances is no longer relevant - everyone has heard it all before (on an annual basis).

What is important is the commitment to improvement, the plan and the consequences for those responsible at a high level if that improvement does not happen.

The city is a strong economic performer and it needs to be at the least mid-table nationally to convince employers and parents that the city is worth committing to.

The league table doesn’t lie. The consequences for the city’s future are severe if the situation does not improve and the senior politicians and officers must ultimately share that responsibility and those consequences.