Wed, 14 Sept 2016
WEST Berkshire Council has said that it is on track to meet its own ambitious target for ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ rated schools.
But one councillor believes the authority should be aiming higher.
The council wants at least 89 per cent of schools in the district, including academies, to achieve an Ofsted rating of good or outstanding by the start of the 2017 term.
Of the 81 schools within the council’s remit; 69 per cent (15) are currently rated good.
The council also wants all schools to be judged as good by 2020 and none judged as inadequate.
The council’s executive member for children and young people, Lynne Doherty (Con, Northcroft), said the council was working hard towards further improvements.
She said: “We’ve set ourselves an ambitious target to have 89 per cent of schools rated outstanding or good before the end of the 2017/18 academic year. The national average is 86 per cent and we are already in line with that at 85.2 per cent.”
The council goal, a key objective under the West Berkshire Conservatives’ manifesto, also aims to have at least 21 per cent of schools rated as outstanding by 2017. Currently 16 per cent (13) of schools have hit this target.
Ofsted ratings run from outstanding to good; and from requires improvement to inadequate.
Currently, 15 per cent of schools (12) require improvement and none are rated inadequate.
Mrs Doherty said: “We purposely set ourselves a challenging target but we are well on track to meet it.
"Several schools which are currently graded as requires improvement are due to be re-inspected before the deadline we gave ourselves and we’re confident the work we have done together with the schools will yield results.”
But the leader of the council’s Liberal Democrat opposition, Alan Macro (Theale) said that the council should be performing at a higher standard.
“For an affluent area like West Berkshire we should be really doing better,” he said.
“We should be aspiring to do much better than that. We should be well above the national average and also affluent areas usually perform much better than more deprived areas.”
Responding to Mrs Doherty’s comments about yielding results, Mr Macro said: “I really do hope that she’s right because we might have some currently good schools slip back. I hope they give these schools all the support so they don’t slip back.”
Mrs Doherty added: “Educational attainment is a priority for West Berkshire Council and we’re committed to giving our pupils the best schools in which to learn, develop and make friends.
"Significantly, we have not had any schools judged inadequate for more than three years which bucks the national trend.
“We couldn’t achieve this alone and these results demonstrate the hard work put in by our education service, governing bodies, teaching staff and of course the parents and pupils themselves.”