Schools to get tougher targets

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Frustration and disappointment has been aired at Peterborough’s poor education results with a lack of high-quality school governors cited as a big contributing factor.

Improvement at schools was branded insufficient at a debate on Monday evening with Peterborough languishing near the bottom of the education tables.

But Peterborough City Council leader and cabinet member for education, Councillor John Holdich, insists he is still the best man to oversee future progress.

He said: “I believe I’m the right person for the job and have the confidence of the schools. The authority is doing what it can and we do not teach kids.

“I believe within the area we have responsibility for we have made huge progress.”

In 2015, Year Six pupils taking their Key Stage 2 exams were five per cent below the national average and GCSE results, which are unvalidated, were eight per cent below the national average.

Stewart Francis, an education co-optee on the council’s scrutiny committee, said: “As a parent I’m going to be slightly dismayed. I might be more dismayed if I’m a company looking to come into the area.”

Liz Youngman, a Church of England representative, said: “You’ve got to get rid of an excuses culture and get positive aspirations.”

Cllr John Shearman, a former headteacher, said: “Targets for individual attainment are not rigorous enough.”

Gary Perkins, the council’s head of school improvement, said: “What we have allowed mistakenly, I think, is schools to say children have made good progress but not look at national standards for attainment.”

Cllr Holdich said teaching is improving and the council’s school improvement team is nationally recognised. But he added: “It’s a bit like football - we are not scoring the goal.

“Six schools have let us down. We have taken action and one headteacher has left.”

Discussing governors, Mr Perkins said: “It’s about them holding school teachers to account and many are not.”

Cllr Darren Fower said he had spoken about governors for a long time, adding: “The one word that comes to mind is hallelujah. I was a governor at Ken Stimpson and I got fed up of the relationship between the headteacher and chair of governors.”