A range of improvement measures at Peterborough schools

Jonathan Lewis
Jonathan Lewis
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Improving outcomes for all schools across the city remains our utmost priority, writes Jonathan Lewis, director of education at Peterborough City Counci.

This week saw the final SATs results published from the last academic year and, whilst we remain disappointed by our national league position, we are seeing signs of steady progress.

We have implemented a range of improvement measures in schools, at the heart of which is the recognition that schools succeed or fail on the quality of their leadership.

Whilst the focus is often on head teachers, the role of governing bodies and trust boards is critical in ensuring effective leadership. Historically we’ve had real challenges filling governor vacancies and ensuring we have the right skills to support highly effective schools, but this is changing.

We’ve undertaken a survey of governing bodies to identify where gaps exist in skills and where schools currently have vacancies. Once this information is collated, we intend launching a targeted recruitment campaign based upon skills.

We held a joint workshop with leads from education, social care and our early help services to look at he challenges we face and find ways of best supporting children in challenging circumstances.

Ofsted delivered two very successful sessions in November on good schools delivering good outcomes and the importance of the curriculum to ensure children are well prepared for the next stage of their education.

Meanwhile, a chair of governance network event is being established to encourage mutual support and sharing best practice.

We have undertaken a review of all the services the authority provides using feedback from head teachers and school leaders. We have identified the need to improve communication, review how we work with academies, provide leadership for improvement and do more to support head teacher wellbeing.

Schools need to have access to high quality data and management information so they recognise their own performance promptly and can make changes. So with this in mind, two working group meetings have been held with primary heads from Peterborough and Cambridgeshire to develop a new approach to managing data.

We also need to improve the quality of teachers we recruit and retain. Back in 2015 we launched the TeachPeterborough website and since then it has had nearly half a million page views, 872 jobs have been advertised and we have had 4,287 job applications initiated.

To keep the site updated, we have formed a working group with head teachers and teaching schools to refresh information and restructure the site to increase the number of applications.

We are also developing a marketing programme to support teacher recruitment including the use of social media during the key recruitment timeframes and using Facebook to target key demographic individuals.

We have had a review of our Special Education Needs and Disability (SEND) approach following reforms in this area. This identified areas of good practice and how we need to work differently with colleagues in social care and health to ensure we meet the needs of this important group. A new SEND strategy will be launched in the new year.

I am visiting Tower Hamlets in London in January to look at their education partnership arrangements to ensure we have an approach where we can harness the drive to improve outcomes in Peterborough.

We are in the process of completing a senior management review to look at how we share our services with Cambridgeshire to ensure we have a high quality offer, with increased capacity and can innovate to improve outcomes in both authorities.

Last week Ofsted published its annual report for 2017/18 which gives a state of the national picture of the performance of early years, schools, further education and skills, and social care providers in England.

The report cites that Peterborough had the highest rate of improvement in primary schools across the eastern region and 11 of the 12 inspected secondary schools in the city were good or outstanding - proof that we are making progress.

The focus now has to be how we translate this excellent into improving pupil outcomes. Every education leader in the city is focused on ensuring we see rapid improvement.

Finally I would like to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and New Year.