Quicker improvement is needed at Peterborough’s primary schools, it has been claimed, after the latest validated results were significantly below the national average.
The marks for reception, years one and two, and year six, showed performances were below the average in virtually every single indicator, with pupils classed as any other white background up to 15 per cent worse off.
The latest results were discussed at a Peterborough City Council scrutiny meeting on Monday.
Stewart Francis, an education co-optee member on the committee, said: “The problem is as Peterborough is improving, nationally it’s improving as well.”
Gary Perkins, head of school improvement at the council, said: “We need to continue to increase and make our increase more rapid. I think we’ve put things in designed to make that increase.
“But the people who make the difference are teachers, head teachers and governors. We are delighted when schools want to work with us, but that does not stop us giving tough messages when we need to and we have done.
“It remains our intention that we have no gap or for it to be a positive.”
Asked how important leadership is to improving standards, Mr Perkins said: “I think it’s the teachers who make the difference. If you have a school of good teachers with a bad leader, it can still succeed, but if you have a school with a good leader but weak teachers that leader will find it difficult for the children to succeed.”
Councillor Mohammed Jamil, member for Central Ward, said: “I have been a governor for over 20 years now. For Pakistani heritage children I hear the same excuses for 20 years and nothing is improving.
“They are still in the bottom cohort. Something is obviously going wrong. Those who are bright will catch up but we are missing so many.”
Mr Perkins said: “We are greatly spiralling up the quality of teaching, there’s no doubt about that. But I do not agree with what you’re saying because we are improving. If you look at trends over time the gaps are closing but not quickly enough.”
Cllr John Peach, member for Park Ward, said: “It always seems a bit of a conundrum to me these results. This is no criticism of you or your officers, but in the ward I represent we have lots of Asian heritage children, and often their parents are very keen on education and push them quite hard.
“Talking to parents of European children and young people themselves, they come over and say they are doing something in this school but in their own country have done this a year or two years ago. That seems strange to me.”
Cllr Darren Fower, member for Werrington South, said: “Children classed as other white background are not going very well, to put it bluntly. I raise my eyebrows when you said improvements are being made year on year.”