Peterborough education chief says future of schooling in city is looking brighter - despite languishing near the bottom of league tables

Jonathan Lewis, service director for Education for PCC and CCC EMN-180519-081704009
Jonathan Lewis, service director for Education for PCC and CCC EMN-180519-081704009

Peterborough’s education chief has said he is not happy with the city’s place on the national league tables - but said the future of schooling in the city was looking brighter.

While Peterborough’s scores have improved when in comes to pupils reaching the end of Key Stage Two over the past two years, the city still languishes near the bottom of the national tables. Just 54 per cent of youngsters leaving primary school hit government targets for reading, writing and maths this year, compared to a national score of 64 per cent.

Just three years ago, just 39 per cent of children in the city hit the target.

Jonathan Lewis, director of education at Peterborough City Council and Cambridgeshire County Council, said while major improvements to the league position were unlikely in 2019, the longer term picture looked bright.

Mr Lewis worked as education director for Peterborough City Council until 2015, when he left the authority - but returned nine months ago.

He said: “Of course we are not happy with the position in the league table. Everyone here is working very hard to improve. But it is not going to happen overnight. Will we see a big jump this year? Probably not. We need to put in strategies that will have a long term impact.”

The city council now runs fewer than half the schools in Peterborough, as more and more schools are run by academy trust.

Mr Lewis said this provided both a challenge and an opportunity for the council.

He said: “We at the council don’t run schools like we used to. We have to work with academies from a range of backgrounds, as well as the maintained schools.

“It is tricky, but it also means we can bring a range of expertise from a range of areas to move us forward.

“The fact Peterborough is now sharing services with the county council is also helping us improve - we can draw experience and expertise from a range of areas now.”

As part of the improvement measures, the two councils have advertised for two new roles - Assistant Director for School & Setting Improvement and Assistant Director for Special educational needs and disability (SEND) & Inclusion.

Both roles will have a salary of more than £90,000 - with the school and setting improvement role having a salary range of £90,742 to £108,732, and Mr Lewis said it was unlikely there would be anyone in place until May.

Mr Lewis said: “We want to get the best people in to do the jobs, and we have already had a lot of interest in them.

“There will be a lot of pressure on the new roles, and the pay is where it should be. We have to move quickly, but plan long term.

“We have seen people with similar roles elsewhere, and it can really drive success.

“I don’t think there is a more dynamic city in the country than Peterborough. There are a lot of complex needs in the city, but a lot of people who really care.

“Our challenge is to recruit and keep the best teachers, Looking at the league tables, there are a lot of success stories out there. We need to keep on improving to make that leap up the tables. We need support from parents, the public and the press to keep that going.”

More: Primary School League Tables - how did your Peterborough school score?

School results improve - but more work is needed to be done