Yorkshire council launches education covenant laying down expectations on schools, parents, pupils and the Government

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A NEW “education covenant” has been produced to drive up school standards in a Yorkshire city which lays down expectations of the council, schools, pupils, parents and the Government.

Bradford Council has recently been criticised by Ofsted over school improvement being too slow and education minister Nick Gibb has asked for answers about the city’s primary school test scores which were among the worst in the country.

Bradford had more than a quarter of 11-year-olds not getting to the expected standard in reading, writing and maths.

Now the authority has launched a new covenant. Bradford Council said it was calling on everyone in the district to get involved in a united drive to improve education standards.

The local authority’s education covenant sets out both what the council will do and what the community can do to give young people “the best possible start in life.”

Bradford Council has committed to keep schools and education as a top priority; to challenge and support schools to rapidly improve and make better use of top schools and head teachers by spreading their best practice. It commits to recruiting, retaining and developing high quality teachers and headteachers.

The education covenant also includes a commitment for the council to work with national government to provide enough school places; to strongly support families and children in the early years to ensure all children are school ready; to work closely with businesses to get young people ready for work and life and to “make full use of the district’s unique cultural and creative learning opportunities for young people.”

The council is asking for parents to access a nursery place; to read to their young children every day and to support their child’s education on a daily basis.

Young people are being urged to take responsibility for their education by “making the most of all learning opportunities.”

The covenant urges to schools to take part in active partnerships and share resources and expertise with each other to drive forward improvements.

Businesses and employers are being urged to establish links with local schools and to encourage staff to be reading volunteers or school governors.

The convenant also sets expectations on the Government to provide sufficient funding for school places, to provide funding and support the district’s education improvement drive; and to support efforts to attract more top teachers and headteachers. to Bradford. Coun Susan Hinchcliffe, the authority’s executive member for education, skills and culture, is now taking the covenant out to schools, parents and young people to gather their views before it is finalised.

She said: “This has to be a joint effort by the district, for the district. As a council we make no excuses and we are pledging what we will do and what our schools can do to achieve a rapid improvement. Education goes beyond the school gates though. We need Government, parents, businesses and communities to play their part.”

Head teachers and governors took the opportunity to discuss the improvement drive and the key role of school partnerships when they met for an annual conference yesterday in Bradford.

Ofsted last month criticised Bradford Council for being too slow in improving its schools. It highlighted a series of concerns including low attendance rates, and warned previous strategies and partnerships have been ineffective in preventing schools from deteriorating, particularly in the secondary sector. But it says that despite this there had been a recent “step change” in Bradford Council’s approach to education which is “giving cause for optimism” in the future. Inspectors say a strategy for rapid improvement – the Bradford School Improvement Strategy 2015 – had been developed to tackle the weaknesses identified by the review.