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Bradford schools chief bemused over education forum snub
Bradford Council’s education chief revealed he was not invited to a Government-organised forum to discuss how groups can work together to make Yorkshire’s schools “the best in the country”.
The Department for Education (DfE) last night hosted a forum at the Royal Armouries in Leeds and will meet business leaders at a Leeds school today in a bid to get the private sector involved in improving schools.
The DfE decided to invite leaders from education, businesses, faith groups and the community for a discussion on how they can make “the education system in Yorkshire and Humberside the best in the country”.
But Coun Ralph Berry, the Council’s executive member for children’s services, said he was “bemused” not to be one of them, despite Bradford schools being among the worst in the region in GCSEs and Key Stage 2 SATS tests.
In 2012, 52 per cent of students in the city achieved five or more A*-C GCSE grades, compared with a 57 per cent Yorkshire average and 59 per cent of students nationally.
And in this year’s Key Stage 2 SATS, 68 per cent of pupils achieved a level four or above, compared with 72 per cent regionally and 75 per cent nationally. “I think this is the Government trying to breathe new life into its failing academies,” said Coun Berry.
“I don’t know who has been invited – I’m sure there will be people from Bradford there, but I am not one of them.”
The events come as Bradford Council unveiled a tough action plan aimed at driving up standards and achievement levels in schools.
The Telegraph & Argus reported yesterday how the 15-point proposal includes making it easier to sack bad teachers, teaching English to some parents and clamping down on absence.
During last night’s event, Theodore Agnew, the chairman of the DfE’s academy board, and Schools Minister Lord Nash spoke to community leaders and will today meet business leaders, head teachers and governors of high performing schools to ask them to consider becoming academy sponsors.
In Bradford, there are 24 academies open – 12 are ‘converter academies’ and 13 are sponsored academies.
Lord Nash said businesses had the power and ability to change the current situation and improve school standards.
Coun Berry said Bradford schools already did a “huge amount of work” with businesses, adding: “Schools are working with a lot of local businesses and I think the Government is actively looking for sponsors for its academies.
“However, a lot of employers want to focus on helping students developing skills, preparing them for work and offering work experience.
“A lot of our schools have deep links with local industry and employers and we can achieve a lot by collaboration.”
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