New bid to improve Isle of Wight school standards

By Richard Wright

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

 

New bid to improve Isle of Wight school standards

John Coughlan.

THE huge amount of work that needs to be done to drag much of the Island’s failing education system out of its current 'parlous’ state is detailed in a major report to be considered by the Isle of Wight Council cabinet.

Written by John Coughlan, children's services director of Hampshire County Council, which took over responsibility for education from the Isle of Wight Council, it told the cabinet it had 'no option’ but to endorse the masterplan.

The cabinet will consider the issue of improving Isle of Wight education tomorrow (Thursday) against a background of Ofsted demanding improvements to the lead and support the council gives schools, exam results which lag far behind the national average, high secondary school exclusions and secondary attendance ranked the worst in the country.

The report is highly critical of previous decisions taken by the council. It said it had not intervened decisively to help poorly performing schools and said re-organisation was not solely to blame.

It accused the previous administration and officers of using schools’ growing self-management as 'an opportunity to cut them adrift, leaving them to feel abandoned’.

It identified serious issues of poor school leadership and criticised the quality of teaching.

Even in good schools, Ofsted had said there was too little outstanding teaching, judging four of the six secondary schools as inadequate.

Although there had been improvement at GCSE and Key Stage 2 levels, the Island was still below the national average.

Mr Coughlan's report said: "Education is in a parlous state on the Island but the partnership between the Isle of Wight Council and Hampshire County Council has the promise of success.

"There is a sense of optimism on the Island and a determination to do better."

It detailed an aspiration for the Island to reach, or outstrip, national average attainment by September 2016 and a wide-ranging strategy to achieve that by strengthening governance and improving teaching.

Despite schools having much more freedom to make their own decisions, the report insisted on the councils’ partnership both challenging and supporting schools — and early intervention if standards were at risk of falling.

See the report below:

Statement from the Director of Children’s Services for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight

Reporter: richardw@iwcpmail.co.uk

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