COMPLACENCY is in danger of creeping into York primary schools and leading to their achievement rates “flatlining”, a senior city councillor has warned.
Janet Looker, City of York Council’s cabinet member for education, children and young people’s services, has said she believes a fresh challenge needs to be set in the city’s education circles to ensure schools return to the position where they were regularly outstripping UK performance averages.
In her speech to the authority’s learning and culture overview and scrutiny committee next week, she will reveal her hopes that York can introduce its own version of the London Challenge, launched in 2003 with the aim of ensuring every child in the capital received an education with an Ofsted rating of “good” or better. It has since been credited with turning the city’s education fortunes around, and in 2010 Ofsted inspectors said London had the highest proportion of “good” or “outstanding” schools in England.
Coun Looker’s speech, published ahead of the meeting, said: “One issue which has been concerning us has been that, in a number of our primary schools, we have been flatlining in our school achievement statistics.
“Where we used to be comfortably above national statistics in our primary SATs score, we are now only just holding our own at about level pegging with the national scores.”
She said London schools wereconsistently outperforming national averages despite some being in deprived boroughs, and the London Challenge had been instrumental in this, adding: “York has so accustomed itself to having ‘good’ schools that a certain level of complacency seems to have crept in, and we hope the York Challenge will raise the aspirations of our schools.”
Coun Looker said 83 per cent of York primary schools were now ranked “good” or “outstanding”, but the council’s aspiration is for this to rise to 90 per cent by 2015.
She told The Press York’s statistics had improved since her speech was written, but said: “I still think there is a tendency in York, to a certain degree, to feel ‘we’re doing OK, we’re doing well, we’re fine and we don’t need to worry about anything.
“The world doesn’t stand still and we have to be constantly challenging ourselves.”
Coun Looker said work on a York Challenge is in its early stages, but she hoped it would look beyond “headline statistics” and could focus on how to raise achievement within small pupil groups as well as across the city’s overall education system.