How the school system works

Hello and welcome to the first Education Matters column. I hope it will provide a fascinating insight into education on a monthly basis.

Saturday, 16th June 2018, 1:00 pm
Updated Tuesday, 19th June 2018, 4:51 pm
Jonathan Lewis, service director for Education for PCC and CCC EMN-180519-081630009

We’ve started the column because we want to get across the positive news that sometimes goes unreported, and demonstrate how we work to support city schools and drive forward standards. I hope I can help families better understand how education services works.

First of all, a bit of background about my role and what I am looking to achieve.

As the council’s Director for Education I am responsible for the educational achievement of every single city pupil - the buck stops with me. I will never shy away from that responsibility.

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As a council we maintain 42 of the city’s 80 schools and are responsible for funding, admissions and achievements.

We’re not responsible for day to day running - that’s down to governors and headteachers - but where there are issues we will step in and offer support where we can. We also take decisive action when we feel schools are not achieving appropriately or have leadership challenges.

In recent years a number of city schools have become academies, directly accountable to the Department for Education. Whilst we are not directly responsible, we still work with staff, offer support and challenge if we feel they are not delivering.

I’ve come back to Peterborough because I am passionate about it. I am going to work tooth and nail to get us up the education league tables.

I previously had a great job working for the Department of Education where I saw best practice everywhere, working alongside some of the country’s top ministers.

But the challenge of coming back was too good to turn down - we have the potential to be doing much, much better. I want to be part of that.

We should be half way in the local authorities league table - I am determined to achieve that.

It will take time, but we will get there.

However, there is much good work going on which gives us a decent platform to build on. We have fantastic school leaders who do a good job and are passionate about our children.

I want to focus on some of the challenges we face and how we will overcome them. These are not barriers to children achieving.

The city’s rapid population growth has put demand on school places. There are also many pupils coming here with English as their second language.

But one of the main issues we face is attracting more teachers. This is not a unique problem, but there is no doubt we need to make the city more attractive.

Teaching is challenging, there’s no point in me suggesting otherwise, but there are many benefits, including job security, a competitive salary and the reward of helping to shape a young person’s outlook.

I’m going to find new ways to support teachers. We could change term dates or offer more help around out-of-class work.

If we can attract more teachers, it would help us tackle issues, because it is proven that smaller class sizes improve outcomes.

Another key educational role we want more people to take up is that of school governors. Some may be unsure about what the role involves or assume you need teaching experience - this isn’t the case.

The benefits of being a school governor are wide ranging. You will learn new skills in key areas such as finance, target setting and strategic planning.

This Saturday we are holding our Governor Conference at Hampton Gardens School between 9.30am and 12.30pm. This is a unique opportunity for anyone interested to meet existing governors and listen to them explain the role, responsibilities and commitment expected.

Admission is free. Book a place through visiting