Bradford schools 'second worst in country' says Ofsted report

Bradford school standards have been criticised by Ofsted in its annual report

Bradford school standards have been criticised by Ofsted in its annual report

First published in News Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author by , T&A Reporter

Bradford has been named as having the second worst performing secondary schools in the country, according to Ofsted judgements.

Figures published by the school’s inspector suggest 71 per cent of secondary school students in Bradford are attending schools deemed “not good enough” by the Government.

While only five per cent in Bradford were officially labelled as “inadequate” by Ofsted, a massive 66 per cent attend schools which only reach “satisfactory”.

In his first annual report published yesterday, Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said he was “worried” about the number of pupils across the country attending schools “judged to be no better than satisfactory”.

The regional director for Ofsted, Mike Cladingbowl, told the Telegraph & Argus that children were not getting the education they deserved.

He said it was not simply down to children’s backgrounds but the quality of school leadership was the biggest factor.

Education chiefs and leaders in the district have warned that while more needs to be done, the report fails to show the improvement made in Bradford in recent years.

Councillor Ralph Berry, the Council’s executive member for children’s services, said only one school in the district was actually classified by Ofsted as being inadequate, which he said was not expected to remain in that category for long.

He said: “We have also got record GCSEs and A-Level results this year.

“The rate of improvement in Bradford was one of the highest in the country this year, bearing in mine we have had these services in-house for one year.

“The problem is we are all dancing to the ever-changing Ofsted tune, but the plan has been to get schools to the floor targets and were it not for the GCSE issue, every high school in Bradford would meet those floor targets.

“But there’s absolutely no complacency.

“The figures don’t tell the whole story, but there’s no doubt we need to see a further step-change.”

Bradford South MP Gerry Sutcliffe said: “This misses a lot of the good that’s going on in our schools in terms of what schools are doing with people from different backgrounds and so on.

“On the face of it, it doesn’t look good, but I think it misses what’s going on in Bradford schools.

“We can’t be complacent, more needs to be done and more investment needs to come in to help the schools, but actually in my time involved in schools in Bradford south, things have definitely improved.

“There are new schools at Tong, Buttershaw and Wyke, so if you put the investment in and get the right conditions in, they can develop, they will grow and they can improve.”

Bradford East MP David Ward said while there was work to do in the district, the report failed to recognise the improvements made in the district.

He said: “Ten years ago we had a massive re-organisation from a two to three-tier system and a massive building programme where almost every single school needed shutting down or extension work.

“During the period of the re-organisation there was a moratorium of Ofsted inspections. When we then started having Ofsted within a year or two we had more than 30 schools, something like 15 per cent, were deemed to be failing, and that was seven or eight years ago.

“So we all know there’s more to do but this fails to recognise the direction of travel and the huge contribution that has been made to change the level of provision of education in Bradford in the last ten years.

“You will also notice there is a direct correlation between the best performing authorities and the relative affluence of those areas.”

Bradford West MP George Galloway said: “Good and outstanding are the very least we should expect – we want every school in the city to be at least a good standard and these results are completely and utterly shaming of consecutive councils and in particular the Labour one.

“Since the first day I arrived in Bradford it has been a campaigning issue, determined to get the standards of schools in this city raised, to get every single one at least at the good standard.

“It’s absolutely unacceptable that the majority of schools in this city are failing pupils and parents.”

Keighley MP Kris Hopkins said he was confident the Council would improve standards, but also warned parents held a responsibility for their children’s education as well.

He said: “The key thing about this is that secondary school education levels aren’t good enough and I’m sure the council leaders around education will actually agree with that.

“But what I’m confident about is that the director of children’s services and the chief executive of the Council know that the district fails unless those education attainment levels go up and it’s been a focus of the council for some time.

“Go back to 2000 – education was so poor it was put in the hands of a private company to operate it – the last year of my time as leader of the council the then Government had gained confidence in the education department to deliver high quality education, and that takes a long time, to go from such a position to the outcome every single parent should expect.”

Shipley MP Philip Davies said: “This is quite a long-standing problem in Bradford, the quality of the standards in education across the district, and they aren’t good enough. The standard varies wildly.

“So while overall there clearly is a problem that needs to be addressed, at the same time there are some absolutely fantastic schools. In my constituency there are some great schools.

“What we should be striving for is that all schools are as good as the best ones.

“The quality of education should not be dependant on the luck of the draw to where you’re brought up and where you can afford to live, and unfortunately in too many cases that is the situation we are in.”

Councillor Roger L’Amie, the Council’s Conservative group education spokesman, said: “When youngsters are trying to get into, say, university, or they are trying to get jobs, employers do compare like-with-like, on what qualifications they have got.

“So as far as Bradford youngsters are concerned, they are at a serious disadvantage in this case.

“Also, I don’t think it does the prospect of the region’s regeneration a great deal of good because if you’re an employer you’re looking for a reasonably trained or trainable workforce.

“If the education results are poor, it’s not going to turn you on, is it?

“All I’m saying is that Bradford has got to better this problem, because if it doesn’t many of our youngsters have a very bleak future.”

Coun Jeanette Sunderland, leader of the Council’s Liberal Democrat group, said: “The issue for me is it doesn’t matter which way round you count this, Bradford still has a lot to do.

“I just think these reports do more damage than good.

“What it says is ‘we’ve got a load of civil servants sitting in Government creating league tables’ – how does that help here in Bradford?”

Coun Sunderland said more needed to be done in the city to help the acquisition of language at a young age, if education standards were to improve.

She said: “That is the most important focus for work in Bradford because if children don’t acquire language in a way that enables them not just to communicate but to reason, to challenge, to debate then you will never move from the bottom of the league tables.”

Ian Murch, Bradford spokesman for the National Union of Teachers, said he didn’t trust Ofsted’s judgement in rating local authorities in this way.

He said: “Ofsted is not an entirely independent body, Michael Wilshaw was appointed to head it by Michael Gove in order to force more schools into becoming academies, and that’s what the purpose of these league tables is.

“Only one Bradford secondary school is actually in a category where the government says it is inadequate, but this method of drawing up the league table makes it look as if most secondary schools are inadequate, and that’s definitely not the case.”

He said: “It doesn’t do justice to the work done in many Bradford secondary schools and the level of improvement in results that we have seen in recent years.

“Bradford results have improved well above the national average.

“It’s misleading in the sense that everytime we produce a league table Bradford is quite a long way down and that’s because Bradford has a lot of disadvantaged children, children with English as a second language and you need a lot of resources and a lot of time to catch up with children from more advantaged backgrounds”

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