Education chiefs in Peterborough have welcomed figures that show children in the city are progressing well at primary school - despite the city finishing second bottom of achievement tables.
The results show that 43 per cent of pupils at Key Stage 2 reached the required level of attainment in reading, writing and mathematics.
In addition, data has been released which shows the progress children make from when they start primary school to when they leave.
This measure is important for Peterborough schools because many children begin school at a very low level, lower than in many other parts of the country.
In this measure, Peterborough is ranked much higher against other local authorities; in the top third for writing (51st out of 152), 108th for mathematics and 139th for reading.
Gary Perkins, assistant director for education for Peterborough City Council, said: “Although these results show the progress we expected, these outcomes are very poor and not what we expect for our children.
“We will be working closely with schools which have performed poorly and the school improvement board to take rigorous action to address this. Schools have been required to produce detailed action plans which are being monitored regularly, and robust conversations have taken place so that they are in no doubt as to the size of the challenge they face.
“We have commenced a programme of training to help schools improve outcomes in reading and phonics as this is an area in need of urgent attention. We have also developed a school readiness action group which aims to improve the ability of children to learn well when they first start school, and we are developing a new programme of support which aims to provide more specialist support to families who are struggling and therefore free up teachers and school leaders to focus upon teaching and learning in classrooms.
“We must also remember that we have many schools which have performed extremely well, and it is these schools which we look to in order to help us bring about improvement in all schools. Together with local councillors, members of our school improvement board, OfSTED and the Regional Schools Commissioner, we remain determined that children in Peterborough will receive a good education and that we will work together to bring about the expected and necessary improvement.”
Tim Smith, headteacher at The Beeches Primary School and Anne Neary, headteacher at Hampton Vale Primary School, said: “Headteachers across the city echo councillor Holdich’s recent response that children in Peterborough schools make strong progress from the time they enter.
“We are particularly conscious of the challenges which many Peterborough children face and the positive impact that we have as schools upon their lives and learning.
“The new test regime brought increased difficulty, particularly in reading, and all schools have learned lessons about the government’s expected standard. We are all working as hard as we can to ensure that our pupils reach that standard.
“It is important that we work together with parents and families to ensure that all children become good readers.”
Eric Winstone, chair of the Peterborough School Improvement Board, said: “All stakeholders are working vigorously to ensure rapid improvement in standards in Peterborough schools. I am determined that the School Improvement Board will continue to monitor the robust actions which are taking place in all schools and expect to see improvement in 2017.”
Councillor John Holdich, leader of the council and cabinet member for education, skills and university, said: “I hope that these results, and Peterborough’s position in the national rankings, will act as a spur to all of our schools to produce the improvement necessary so that we are never in this position again.
“Reading levels are clearly in need of urgent improvement and this will be an area we focus on next year.
“The review of education, led by councillor Lynne Ayres and John Harris, an expert in education with extensive experience, which I have promised will begin in the new year to see if there is anything more this council can do to support our teachers and schools in their endeavours to raise attainment.
“I’ve taken this approach because Peterborough is one of the best areas in the region for schools judged good or outstanding by Ofsted; 88 per cent of primary school pupils go to good or outstanding schools in this city. However the attainment data shows this needs rapid improvement.
“Peterborough faces a unique set of challenges which, in turn, create significant issues for our teachers and schools. This includes the huge churn in our school population with large numbers of children starting school during the academic year after moving here from other areas and double the national average of pupils who don’t speak English as their first language.
“Even though our role, as with all councils across the UK, in education has been significantly diminished by government we continue to work closely with schools and have developed an action plan to support schools in raising attainment. This plan will be reviewed by Councillor Ayres to ensure it’s as comprehensive as possible.
“I will leave no stone unturned to understand whether there is anything more this council can do to support our teachers and schools in raising attainment in this city.”