Council admits more has to be done to improve standards

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Medway Council has admitted more needs to be done to improve education standards, after the local authority was ranked bottom in England’s primary school league table.

Figures released by the Department for Education revealed only 72 per cent of children achieved the minimum level four target in Maths and English by the age of 11.

The data published shows how more than 14,000 primary schools fared in national curriculum tests, known as Sats.

It’s the third year in which Medway has been ranked bottom of the pile, although figures have shown gradual increases year-on-year.

Chatham & Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch has called for showdown talks about the results, and said questions had to be answered following publication of the results.

She said: “These are obviously disappointing figures. While there have been some improvements in challenging schools, the overall headline figure for Medway remains well below the national average.

“I will be seeking a meeting with Medway Council to discuss the issue at the earliest opportunity.”

And Medway has also been slammed by experts, who said the results must act as a “real wake up call” for school bosses.

Education consultant Alex Mehta said: “If Medway’s primary schools are to improve and deliver the best for their pupils, there must now be a renewed focus on school improvement, stronger management and an emphasis on attracting and retaining the best staff.

“Children only get one chance at primary education – we cannot waste it.”

However, Medway Council has defended its position - stating that gradual progress was being made.

Director of children and adult services Barbara Peacock said: “Improving educational standards in Medway is of the utmost importance and we are working intensively with schools where improvements are needed to ensure that they progress as quickly as they can.

“These figures show that Medway has seen a five per cent rise in Key Stage 2 results this year, with 72 per cent of all our children gaining at least Level 4 in English and mathematics.

“While these are the highest results ever for the area, it also shows that they have not risen at as fast a pace as they have at schools in other local authority areas across the country and there is still more work to be done.

“The improvement in our results gives us the confidence that we are focusing on the right things to raise performance and aspirations for our children. We recognise the importance of a good education and are ourselves ambitious for our children to continue to do better.

“As the overall figures are averages, it is worth pointing out that they do not highlight the significant number of children, or primary schools, that have achieved outstanding results, with several seeing a 20 per cent rise in their results in just one year. I would like to congratulate each and every one of them as well as their teachers for their hard work and efforts.”

A Department for Education spokesman said schools with a long history of underperformance face being taken over by an Academy sponsor.

However, the move to make failing schools become academies has been slammed by the National Union of Teachers (NUT), which says the table does not correctly reflect the standard of teaching in schools.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “The very nature of league tables means that there will always be someone at the bottom, regardless of their achievement. It really is time we stopped this ridiculous measure of achievements in schools.

“It is a reflection of teachers’ hard work with all pupils that despite the goalposts being moved the results for Level 4 in the combined English and maths score have improved for yet another year.

“It proves that all primary schools have the capacity to improve without a change to academy status. Strong leadership, teaching and teamwork are at the core of good schools.”

However, Kent County Council achieved the national average - with 78 per cent of pupils achieving level four in English and Maths.

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