‘You can be obsessed by the national rankings’ - Peterborough schools are improving insists council chief

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SATS scores in Peterborough have improved insisted a city education chief who said it easy to become obsessed by national rankings.

Gary Perkins, assistant director for education at Peterborough City Council, was speaking after newly validated SATS results had Peterborough finishing second bottom for the second year running, with the city coming bottom for reading and maths and second bottom for writing.

Peterborough had also slipped down the tables for children aged five and seven years old, but Mr Perkins told councillors at a scrutiny committee meeting: “It’s clear for all to see the challenges that we face in Peterborough.

“What has to be encouraging from 2016 outcomes to 2017 outcomes is the improvement at Key Stage 2 in reading and maths being better than the national rate of improvement. That is not reflected yet in any great improvement in the national rankings, but you can be obsessed by the national rankings to the detriment of our schools.

“There are many schools that have done well and should be proud.”

Mr Perkins said there are “very few, if any, local authorities that have the same combination of challenges that Peterborough have,” but he refused to use that as an excuse, adding that there was no reason Peterborough could not do better than other authorities with similar demographics.

He also said that schools taking part in targeted programmes set up by the council were “benefiting from them.”

Cllr Bella Saltmarsh told Mr Perkins that Peterborough had “dropped back a bit.”

Labour leader Cllr Ed Murphy said: “I’m concerned the system has failed children in this city. It’s not good enough.”

A Labour amendment requesting that the Conservative cabinet look at alternative funding and organisation options for education was defeated after a split vote. Committee chair Cllr Janet Goodwin, a Conservative member, had the casting vote.

The committee was also told that two schools have received formal warning notices for the second year running, but the names of the school were not disclosed. Two schools are also in the process of becoming teaching schools.

The committee also unanimously approved a survey on school readiness which Mr Perkins said would bring “long-term improvements.”