Improvements to Bradford schools ‘are too slow’ Ofsted warns

Newly elected Bradford South MP Judith Cummins.  Picture Bruce Rollinson
Newly elected Bradford South MP Judith Cummins. Picture Bruce Rollinson
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A DAMNING report from Government inspectors has criticised a Yorkshire council for being too slow in improving its schools.

Officials from the education watchdog, Ofsted, highlights a series of concerns in Bradford, including low attendance rates, and warns previous strategies and partnerships have been ineffective in preventing schools from deteriorating, particularly in the secondary sector. But it says that despite the failings, there has been a recent “step change” in Bradford Council’s approach to education which is “giving cause for optimism” in the future.

Bradford South MP Judith Cummins has made an “urgent request” to meet Education Secretary Nicky Morgan MP to discuss the report and to call for additional Government support.

She said: “Whilst I am pleased to see that the report acknowledges some improvements are being made, changes have been too slow, academic achievement too low, attendance poor and the inequalities with disadvantaged pupils worsening. Our young people deserve better, Bradford deserves better, and I won’t rest until we get it.”

Control of Bradford’s education was passed back to the local authority four years ago, after the private company Serco’s d had run its schools for 10 years after the district’s educational services were criticised by Ofsted. The firm, which operated as Education Bradford, was paid to raise educational standards in the district.

In June, the Ofsted team inspected Bradford’s education service and its report says the number of students gaining at least five good GCSEs at grades A* to C, including English and maths, by the end of Key Stage 4 fell significantly in 2014 to well below the national average. And it says not enough students achieve academic qualifications at levels 2 or 3 by the age of 19.

The achievements of boys lag well behind those of their peers nationally, and the proportion of primary schools needing improvement is twice the national average, with 10 per cent of secondary schools deemed inadequate. Other concerns include the council’s support not being effective, and the report says mechanisms to identify schools at risk of declining performance have been inconsistent.

But the inspectors say a strategy for rapid improvement – the Bradford School Improvement Strategy 2015 – has been developed to tackle the significant weaknesses identified by the review.

Bradford Council’s strategic director of children’s services, Michael Jameson, said: “We fully accept Ofsted’s findings. There is a huge amount of work to do but we are reassured that Ofsted has identified a ‘cause for optimism’.”