LEEDS has joined Sheffield in having the performance of its primary schools branded “inexcusable” by standards watchdog Ofsted.
The criticism was made in a letter which has emerged from Nick Hudson, Ofsted’s regional director for Yorkshire, to Leeds City Council calling on the authority to show how it will raise standards.
Ofsted has confirmed it has sent letters to councils across Yorkshire but declined to make them public.
However, the Sheffield and Leeds letters have now both found their way into the public domain.
The Ofsted letter, seen by The Yorkshire Post, followed primary school tests showing children in Leeds performed below the national average in reading, writing, maths and science.
It says: “However one compares outcomes for pupils’ attainment at key stages one and two in Leeds, its performance, whether against national or regional figures, is weak.
“This is frankly inexcusable.”
Coun Andrew Carter, leader of the opposition Conservative group on the council, criticised the authority for not making the letter public and accused the Labour administration of trying to “bury bad news”.
He said: “This sort of bad news never gets any better for being kept quiet.
“However the worst part of all this is the council is failing another generation.
“We have to make sure they are properly equipped for the rest of their education and indeed their working life to follow.”
But last night there were signs of growing anger among councils over Ofsted’s approach after it emerged the wording of both the Leeds and Sheffield letters was almost identical.
Coun Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for children and families, said: “We were very surprised and concerned to receive this highly unusual letter, which was not sent to us in line with the usual professional protocols we would expect.
“We understand that other local authorities in Yorkshire have received remarkably similarly phrased letters.”
Coun Yeadon said nine out of every 10 Leeds primary pupils are in a school rated good or outstanding by Ofsted.
She added: “Although we are disappointed that Ofsted has chosen not to recognise these achievements, we take the issues raised in the letter very seriously and are taking action to respond to them fully and appropriately.”