Peterborough’s education chief defends his record after “reluctantly” stepping down from role

Cllr John Holdich

Cllr John Holdich

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The man responsible for education in Peterborough has stepped down from the role.

Council leader Cllr John Holdich told fellow councillors on Monday evening that he was relinquishing his education portfolio which will now be taken on by Cllr Lynne Ayres, who is currently undertaking a review into the city’s schools.

Cllr Lynne Ayres

Cllr Lynne Ayres

Cllr Holdich, who was cabinet member for education for six years, said the decision was made “reluctantly” after he became the new deputy mayor of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, a new council set up to operate across the county.

The council leader told the Peterborough Telegraph: “The education portfolio and all its meetings takes an awful lot of time. I can’t do everything.”

Cllr Holdich has come under fire after a series of poor results for the city’s schools, but he feels some of the criticism has been unfair. He said: “There’s a basic lack of understanding in how the system works. I can’t keep saying I don’t teach kids. I provide facilities which give them the best opportunity to learn.

“Five years ago only 60 per cent of our schools were rated good or better by Ofsted. Currently, it is about 90 per cent. We have done tremendously in modernising all secondary schools and created about 12,000 extra places.

Steve Allen EMN-150804-162204009

Steve Allen EMN-150804-162204009

“It’s disappointing to me the attainment levels have not gone up with it, but we have given every support we can to the schools.”

Also at Monday’s meeting, Cllr Holdich revealed his new look cabinet, which sees Cllr Steve Allen join as the leader’s advisor with a focus on city centre management, culture and leisure services and communications.

Cllrs Janet Goodwin and Graham Casey, who previously held similar portfolios to the one taken on by Cllr Allen, have left the cabinet.

The council leader said: “My focus is clear and my ambition is great: new jobs, good quality housing, improved educational attainment, a university, a thriving city centre, a strong rural community and, above all, an improved quality of life for all our citizens.”

However, opposition group leaders hit back, claiming not enough was being done to help the homeless or improve areas outside of the city centre.