Council chiefs have said Peterborough primary schools should be performing much better after finishing rock bottom of attainment league tables.
The city was ranked 151 out of 151 in tables showing achievement in SATS scores, taken by pupils in their last year of primary education.
Pupils returned to class after the summer break yesterday, and parents were promised there would be a big improvement in next year’s results.
Terry Reynolds, the council’s interim director for education, said progress made by youngsters was just as important as the attainment at the end of primary school.
He said: “None of the heads we have spoken to, none of us think that this level of attainment outcome is what we want and is good enough. We want it to be better. We have to recognise the things that make it like it is and deal with them.
“We also have to recognise that kids going through the primary system need to get to a certain point by 16 +, that’s the key point - its not finished at 11, its finished at 16. What secondary schools will do in year seven is pick up on the results of the kids, they will have catch up programmes for kids who are below the expected level, they will be monitoring them through year seven, eight and nine before they start their GCSEs and make sure that they are making the progress and catching up with what they need to do.”
But Gary Perkins, Peterborough City Council’s assistant director of education, said the authority should realistically be aiming significantly higher.
He said: “(in the past)We got consistently into the high 80s for attainment and 30s or 40s for progress, and that’s where we should be. We should be in the top third for progress. Attainment, we will not get there but we were in the 80s and low 90s consistently, and that is where we should be.”
He said he expected a ‘big improvement’ in the next set of results as this year’s would act ‘as a shock to our schools.’
Mr Perkins said the data to put the tables together was also incomplete, as it is thought two schools were omitted - and the council was expecting the percentage of pupils reaching the expected standard to jump by three per cent - which would put the authority level at the bottom with Bedford.
Other improvements from all authorities will also be seen when pupils who have not been in the country for more than two years are removed from the data.
Cllr John Holdich said issues faced at primary schools were pupils changing schools, and youngsters not speaking English at home.
He said nationally about 85 per cent of pupils remain at the same primary school throughout the seven years, while in Peterborough the figure stood at 70 per cent - and some schools in the city only had 50 per cent stay throughout their primary education.
But he said the council had ‘not stood still’ in trying to tackle the problems.
He said: “We have tried family learning - bringing mum and dad in to learn English with the kids and learn about the school - but mum and dad cannot come in regularly as they work shifts. “We have set up an English as an additional language academy to support teachers and help them teach children with another language. “We have set up a teacher training college so teachers can understand the problems in Peterborough.
“We are one of three councils to have brought in the Literacy Trust.
“We have not stood still on this.”
Eric Winstone, chair of the Peterborough School Improvement Board, said head teachers would be ‘shedding blood’ to ensure similar results don’t happen again.
He said: “It is what staff and headteachers have been talking about this week that matters. We bleed - on these kinds of results they will be shedding blood - they will be making sure that it’s not going to happen again.
“They’ll be taken to account by governing bodies, taken to account by the local authority or through the regional schools commissioner if they are an academy.
“The accountability will be there and it will be coming down. They are professional people.”
Tim Smith, headteacher of the Beeches Primary School and a member of the School Improvement Board, added: “Every school in the city has been analysing over the summer, and doing a very detailed analysis of its performance down to question level, but equally, this was an unseen, new style of test.”
He added: “Every school you can guarantee will have a school improvement plan which features performance at Key Stage Two tests.”
Results on progress made by pupils during their time in Peterborough primary schools is expected to be released later this month. The final validated attainment results will be released later this year. The full league tables are available at www.gov.uk/government/organisations/department-for-education/about/statistics