Council leader angry at government over “free school meals to university” figures

THURROCK Council’s education portfolio holder and Leader, Cllr John Kent, has reacted angrily to government figures which make the borough the worst performing for getting some young people into higher education.

Speaking on Tuesday (13 August) he said: “A close look at the figures show they relate to children entitled to free school meals up to 2007, children who would have entered higher education in 2009. At this time GCSE results across the borough were still quote low in comparison to others.

“These overall low figures led to a low base for those who went on to university or other further education two years later – it’s sad, but not surprising.”

He said: “What makes me angry is that these out of date figures are simply put out there and there is nothing to say how, since then, our GCSE results has risen to national average or above. Last year the gap between Thurrock’s results for students entitled to free school meals compared to those who are not was six per cent better than the national figure.

“Our hard work in Thurrock over recent years has seen the chances of all young people in the borough improve – irrespective of their background or need.”

He added: “This year has seen the new Raising Participation Plan adopted by all Thurrock academies and schools, focusing on improving progression to higher education among all our young people.

“And from this summer everyone who is looking for post-16 provision will have access to the UCAS Progress online prospectus that enables students to find an appropriate course in schools and colleges in Thurrock and beyond.”

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