September 29th, 2016

Alarming decline in Coventry secondary schools

Updated: 4:48 pm, May 07, 2015

THE number of Coventry pupils attending a “good” or “outstanding” school has fallen alarmingly to nearly half of all students.

It is an opposite picture in primary schools, where watchdog Ofsted has highlighted dramatic improvements, as recently reported in the Observer.

The latest figures reveal only 57 per cent attended an Ofsted-rated “good” or “outstanding” secondary school in Coventry in November, a further decline on previous months’ figures.

A council officers’ report to councillors states: “Over the past two years there has been a dramatic decline in the city’s profile of good or

outstanding schools from 81 per cent in 2012 to 57 per cent in November 2014.

“Since September 2013, eight secondary schools have had a (Section 5) inspection. None have improved, two have remained at the same grade and six have declined by at least one grade.”

The decline coincides with the government’s push for council maintained schools to convert to more independent academy status.

It comes despite the city’s success in turning around performance in primary schools with partnership working among the “family of schools”, whereby strong schools help out the worst performers.

The city’s partnership approach, led by education cabinet member David Kershaw, has been praised by Ofsted since its 2012 rating placed Coventry bottom of a national league table for the percentage of pupils attending good or outstanding primary schools.

Councillors are due to discuss the matter next Tuesday at an education scrutiny board meeting.

They have been informed that “key weaknesses” identified in Ofsted inspections in secondary schools include:

* Quality of leadership.

* Quality of teaching.

* Some governing bodies do not challenge school leaders effectively.

* The sixth form in a number of schools requires improvement or is

inadequate.

* Behaviour and safety of pupils.

* Pupils’ work not being pitched at right level.

* Assessment of pupils’ work is inaccurate and some marking is ineffective;

* Teacher’s expectations are too low and some teaching was uninspiring.

The council officers’ report adds: “Pupil’s progress is not good enough in some subjects. Some groups such as those with English as an addition language, pupil premium, pupils with special educational needs and disabilities and White British boys do not achieve well enough.

“Attainment at 5A*-C including English and mathematics is below the national average.”

Since September 2013, six special schools have had a (Section 5) inspection, and none have improved.

The local authority has adopted measures aimed at “rapid and sustained school improvement”.

They include the partnership working model, and external monitoring, which has nearly doubled ratings in primary schools since 2012, when just 42 per cent of pupils attended a good or outstanding rated school.

It aims to raise standards in both council maintained schools and academies.

A Schools Improvement Board will continue to step in where a school’s leadership or teaching is considered weak, with formal powers against heads where no improvement is attained.

Her Majesty’s Inspector of schools is to work with four secondary schools in the spring to “sharpen up school leader’s key skills.”

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