YP Letters: Misleading comparisons over performances of Yorkshire schools

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan at a school in Leeds.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan at a school in Leeds.
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From: Sir Peter Newsam, Church Lane, Thornton Dale.

YOUR Editorial (The Yorkshire Post, May 23) rightly points to the “outstanding work carried out at many schools” in Yorkshire.

That is why statements such as “Yorkshire’s exam results are the lowest in the country” can be so misleading.

Averages conceal more than they reveal. For example, if it is correct that “across the North 55.5 per cent of pupils attain five good GCSEs compared 
with 57 per cent across England”, how serious is this problem?

That could be established if some of the poorest performing schools were removed from the calculation to raise it to that 57 per cent. How many schools would that require? Poor performance is not a Yorkshire-wide phenomenon. It is a localised one that needs to be dealt with as such.

Take London, with which comparisons are being made. In 1960, on standardised national reading scores Inner London was three points above the national average of 100. In 1969, it was six points below.

The reason? In some parts of London, very different teachers were struggling to teach a very different set of children. Stability in London has now been restored, but the Government is proposing to establish a national funding formula for individual schools.

As a past deputy Education Officer to the West Riding and Education Officer to Inner London, I know that no formula yet devised can take into account the needs of schools with the most complex problems to deal with. A national funding formula makes sense but it needs to be accompanied by the right or ability of local authorities to respond, quickly and effectively, to circumstances that no formula can possibly cover. Otherwise, it will prove hugely damaging.

From: Peter Lacey, Managing Director, Ecarda Ltd, Sharpe Close, Barton upon Humber.

THE London Challenge was a co-operative and not competitive venture. Notably, it had very little to do with academisation.

The average rate of per pupil funding in Tower Hamlets is significantly higher than any of the northern authorities in the sample. With the exception of Hull’s primary schools, its average pupil progress rates are higher than any of the northern authorities in the sample.

That the Northern Powerhouse funding is being used to increase the number of academies through the creation of multi-academy trusts misses the point. It falls into the trap of taking the easier strategy of structural change rather than systemic.