THE important role of local authorities to the education system was highlighted by Thurrock Council Leader and education portfolio holder Cllr John Kent on Wednesday (24 February) evening.
He was speaking at full council and delivering his annual portfolio report.
He said: “I am sure some will be asking why we have this portfolio at all, claiming all education is run by the schools now, or if they’re making political points, the academies and the free schools.
“No matter what a school is called – academy, voluntary aided or community – no matter what its current Ofsted rating, this council is determined to work with everyone from the youngest pupil to the head teacher and chair of governors, to offer help and assistance wherever and however it can.
“It is always worth remembering that back in 2010 just one third of our young people went to schools which were rated good or outstanding by Ofsted. Since then the inspectorate has made its challenge to school more difficult of “harder” to use their own word, yet now 74 per cent, over two thirds of our schools are currently rated as good or outstanding.
“I am sure that figure would be higher still were it not for the number of new academies that are still awaiting their Ofsted inspection.”
Cllr Kent also praised the “strong partnership work between schools of all types and us, the council” saying how recommendations from the Education Commission were showing good results.
Another commission recommendation, “the Thurrock Education Awards are going from strength to strength celebrating our successes” he added.
He said: “This strong partnership development is highlighted by the way we can work with academies as well as our own schools to increase capacity as the pressure on places – and particularly primary places – continues to grow.
“Our Early Years performance is continuing to improve and we’re definitely closing the inequalities gap; at Key Stage 1 we are at or close to the national average; 11-year-old performance has also improved across all major areas and subjects, and there have been some significant improvements too; and then there are the NEETS, those not in education employment or training, where we are confident all are known to us and the number of 16-year-old NEETS is considerably better than the national average.”
Cllr Kent added: “This past year saw the continuation of the arts and cultural entitlement programme with 28 schools involved with the Royal Opera House commissioned Trailblazer programme which is jointly funded between the council, the Arts Council and schools themselves.
“And finally, to be fair and accurate, this year saw a dip in GCSE results locally – and nationally – following changes in the grading for GCSE English and maths meaning that locally figures fell by five per cent, however our only maintained secondary school, Grays Convent, achieved a seven per cent improvement.”