The elephant in the Peterborough classroom...

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

I don’t know why Peterborough is rock bottom of the national education league table.

I do know the SATS performance of city schools is woeful and has been for years,and the complacent reaction from some of those in charge gives me little hope for improvement.

I don’t know if Cabinet member Cllr Lynne Ayres is right when she says we are moving in the right direction or that MP Fiona Onasanya’s call for us to “celebrate our successes’’ will help.

I do know that in the meantime thousands of Peterborough children are not getting the education they deserve.

What we need is a frank and open debate and assessment of what’s going wrong.

We all know about churn, English as a second language and funding pressure. Last week, PT letter writer and former head teacher of this parish Toby Wood spotlighted parents and their low aspirations as a possible cause. All these elements – although not unique to Peterborough – are, I’m sure, part of the problem.

But the elephant in the room which nobody dares mention is the standard of teaching.

I don’t know if teachers in Peterborough are better or worse than anywhere else but I don’t see how a debate about improving schools’ performance can have any value without an honest and rigourous assessment of the quality of teaching.

Unfortunately, anyone who dares to criticise teachers, or even hints at it, is usually told off and made to write 100 lines of 'teachers work very hard'.

City schools supremo Jonathan Lewis has hinted that he’s looking at this aspect by highlighting the need for the recruitment and retention of good teachers.

I do know is if Peterborough is to improve good teachers will be a key factor.