Bradford plans new drive to raise standards in reading and maths

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AN EDUCATION boss in the Yorkshire city with the lowest ranked primary schools in the region has said plans are in place to improve the standards being achieved in both reading and maths.

Bradford was ranked fourth-bottom nationally out of more than 150 authorities in a table measuring the performance of 11-year-olds in reading, writing and maths.

Only Poole, Luton and Reading had lower scores.

The district was also in the bottom 10 in England for the level of primary schools below Government floor targets in the three Rs.

New figures from the Department for Education show 16 per cent of Bradford primary schools – 22 in total – did not get 60 per cent of their pupils achieving the standard expected of the age group – known as level four – in this year’s reading and maths tests and in writing assessments carried out by teachers.

Coun Ralph Berry, Bradford Council’s executive member for children’s services, said writing of 11-year-olds had improved in line with the national average in Bradford and steps were now in place to make this case with reading and maths.

He said the council was working on a new district-wide strategy with the National Literacy Trust.

“Our primary schools have made progress at key stage two recently, but there are disappointing elements to this year’s validated results,” he said.

“The local authority will continue to work with the Primary Improvement Partnership to review this year’s results and agree on the next steps.

“One of the ways in which we can help children improve their reading is through a new partnership we are developing with the National Literacy Trust which we hope will start working with schools early next year. This district-wide strategy involves working with children, as well as their parents and businesses.

“We are currently reviewing our education improvement strategy and the teaching of mathematics is one of the other areas we will focus our resources and energy on.”

Coun Berry said the Ofsted regional report published this week provided evidence that steps were in place to improve standards in Bradford.

The report showed the authority had moved up the Ofsted league table 44 places to 54th this year compared to 98th in 2012 out of more than 150 local authorities.

It is now ranked third best in Yorkshire for the number of primary schools which are good or better.

Ofsted’s chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said in relation to Bradford: “Inspection judgments are not yet reflected in all national test and exam results, I am confident that as long as progress is maintained better results will follow.” Coun Berry said: “There is a strong commitment to tackle underperformance and raise standards but we are not saying that we have got there yet.”

He also highlighted the council’s decsion to remove governing bodies at two primary schools in the city earlier this year as evidence of its drive to raise standards.

While Bradford primary schools fared well in Ofsted tables and badly in the latest DfE figures the opposite is true of the East Riding.

The authority was ranked third bottom in Yorkshire for the number of primaries which were good or better in Yorkshire and was targeted for a wave of Ofsted inspections earlier this year.

However, the latest tables from the Department for Education showed its pupils actually delivered the joint best primary school results in the region.

The East Riding was ranked top in Yorkshire along with Calderdale and York, which all saw 77 per cent of pupils reaching level four in reading, writing and maths.

The council’s education 
director, Mike Furbank, said that the number of good schools in the East Riding had risen from 
58 per cent to 70 per cent in 
just over a year and he was confident that this trend would continue.

Mr Furbank welcomed East Riding’s position at the top of the region’s league tables and he also defended the authority’s position on Ofsted inspections.

He said: “In the past the priorities were set from Government were to keep schools from being inadequate and to raise standards and we have delivered on that.

“We have no schools in the East Riding that are inadequate.

“However we have now a new chief inspector of schools has come in who has changed the framework.”

Hull moved off the bottom and up six places in this year’s primary school league tables.

Coun Rosie Nicola, portfolio holder for Learning and Skills, said: “We are delighted with the progress made this year and moving up the league tables regionally and nationally.”