COVENTRY has among the fewest pupils in the country attending ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ secondary schools after an alarming decline in standards, new figures reveal.
Watchdog Ofsted’s national secondary schools’ performance league tables show a 10 per cent fall from last year to 57 per cent of pupils attending a school in the top-rated categories.
By contrast, neighbouring Warwickshire schools rose by six per cent.
The same national league tables placed Coventry’s primary schools among the worst in the country at 42 per cent three years ago.
But a highly successful citywide drive to improve primary school standards has since seen that figure double.
Coventry City Council education cabinet member, Labour councillor David Kershaw, pledged secondary schools’ performance would be turned around following release of the new figures.
He said: “It’s disappointing and we’re going to do something about it.
“I’m not making excuses. The reason for the drop of 10 per cent is there were a number of schools across the country that did drop.
“In GCSE entries and changes in exam procedures some of our young people in Coventry found those changes very demanding.
“We’re addressing those issues very effectively. We have a track record of addressing underachievement in Coventry schools.
“This time next year there will be a very different picture.”
He said Coventry education chiefs will apply the same inter-school support structures – with stronger schools, their heads and teachers helping weaker schools – which he says drove the primary schools turn around.
The six top-performing Coventry secondary schools out of 17 would be helping the more challenged schools, said Coun Kershaw.
Most of the city’s secondary schools have converted to academy status – since the coalition and Conservatives came to power in government in 2010 – with independence from the council as the education authority.
But Coun Kershaw and the council’s strategy has been to maintain a “family of schools” working in partnership when necessary – despite academy’s greater independence.
School heads have for years complained of budgets being squeezed in a climate of government cuts – and say successful schools need leadership, quality teachers, and reasonable staff/pupil ratios.
Less advantaged areas on the country face more challenges.
Ofsted inspector James McNeillie said there needed to be a focus of schools’ leadership as well as a “focus on disadvantaged pupils in the school.”
Concerns have been raised about disruption from a minority of pupils in some Coventry schools.