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



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Displaying the last 10 of 11 comments - Show All Comments

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by James McAdder

9th January 2014, at 12:17:55

Wake up, Mike Crowe.

It's pretty obvious that my comments were directed at Mike Brown.

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by Mike Crowe

9th January 2014, at 09:04:54

I don't.

I don't.


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by James McAdder

8th January 2014, at 22:16:08

I assume you are a parent, Mike, so when you are waiting to pick up your kids from school, how do you go about determining the "basic genetics" of the other parents and their children?

How do you go about recognising a "professional" parent? Are you looking for smart suits, or do you have some kind of inate ability to spot the right kind of parent from a distance?

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by Mike Brown

8th January 2014, at 20:16:01

I don't think there is a huge amount wrong with the schools, or the teachers. The reason the Island is at the bottom of the league tables, is because of the limited capability of the majority of those they have to teach. The majority of those that manage to be successful at school, usually go on to do a worthwhile degree, and setup roots somewhere other than the Island - so their children (who will probably also achieve) will not go to Island schools. It's basic genetics. The majority of those that are left will be under achievers when measured on any national scale. Look round the playground at drop off or pick up time, and you will not find many professional parents off to high powered jobs, and the topics of conversation are usually related to reality TV, football, and other inane drivel - how can we expect our children to achieve when they are not inspired to do so by their parents? Build a fixed link, attract more big, high tech business - that may help. Tinkering won't.

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by steve stubbings

8th January 2014, at 19:00:00

Big of you to apologise, Roger. That takes some doing.

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by roger mazillius

8th January 2014, at 16:52:46

Interesting that for DECADES, the Island has delivered secondary educational results lower than the national average. Many looked at the three tier system and how this was very much in a minority of education authorities. Hence the change here to two tier.
This has now delivered our best ever GCSE results but they are still below our neighbours and national averages. So still more to do.
We accepted that we needed more expert support to deliver better results across the board so turned to Hampshire early this year.
Hampshire's evaluation is against the background of the more severe Ofsted inspection regime and shows the shortfalls in local authority support, for which as a member of the previous administration, I apologise. To that must be added the responsibility of Heads, Teachers and Governors to deliver teaching of the highest standards in all schools. The buck stops with so many but those who are delivering must be praised and supported.

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by Mat Thomas

8th January 2014, at 14:47:46

Most of it is spin and political. The Government want to centralise authority control in places like Hampshire and also support Academies and Free Schools as a way back to Grammar Schools and privatisation. OFSTED are part of it and no-one trusts them anymore. You will see the schools that "pass and fail" in the future. Children on the IW aren't some weird sub-species as you say, we are no different to anywhere else. Ask the teachers they will tell you about the conditions and what is right and what is wrong.

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by James McAdder

8th January 2014, at 12:36:58

Children on the IW aren't some weird sub-species of Humanity who have less enthusiasm for learning than those just across the water.

If they have less enthusiasm for learning then it is the environment they are living in that has caused this.

It is, probably, a combination of a large number of factors. The lack of opportunities and well paid work on the IW, The disruption of the schools system during the (mismanaged, IMO) switch to a two tier system and the lack of good teachers (which is another issue. Why is it so hard to get good teachers on the IW, and then keep them?).

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by Mike Crowe

8th January 2014, at 11:32:17

Earmarked for promotion and already got his own car.

Incentive needs to be put into the students more. Last year I was at an Apprentices Seminar and a couple of lads had been made redundant from their Apprenticeships, (should never happen but it did) they were still as keen as mustard. 'They' had the incentive. Wish I had a class of ex school kids like that.

So Lee. More schools? Stop closing them? No. Work on the incentive to learn.

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by Mike Crowe

8th January 2014, at 11:27:54

Lee that is only part of the issue. I have been in teaching, but not school stuff, Industrial Training Schools and Colleges where there is the incentive to learn. 'Hands on' practical stuff along with the theory. These were engineers and the courses in general counted towards promotion. In this situation, the student/engineer "WANTS" to learn and 'classroom control' is not a big factor/problem.
However, my only little foray into school children learning, in this case 15 year olds sent to the Isle of Wight College to get an insight into adult life and a trade, proved that old adage "You can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink" proved to be very correct. They had no interest and more schools full of these children would do no good at all. "They" must have the incentive to learn.
And an example? An ex Node Hill and Carisbrooke High student, knew at the age of 9 what he wanted to do and was encouraged. Not yet 18 he is doing it. Earmarked for

Any views or opinions presented in the comments above are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Isle of Wight County Press.

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