Education needs to be our number one priority
HERE in Derby, we are proud of many things – our heritage, our innovation, our industry, and the way the city has changed for the better in recent years.
But if there is one area where we have not really come up to scratch, it is in education. We are letting our schoolchildren down.
And whatever people may think of the modern obsession with league tables, the painful truth of the matter is our city is lying second-bottom in the table which measures the percentage of pupils who go to primary schools which are rated as good or outstanding. Keeping us company in the bottom five of this list of shame are Coventry, Thurrock, Wakefield, Telford and Wrekin.
What is the source of this information? None other than Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, who makes the revelation in his annual report to the Government.
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There is further unpleasant reading in this report which, for the first time, rates areas on their ability to offer children the chance to attend a good or outstanding secondary school. We're not bottom-but-one this time, but we are in the bottom 20%.
These latest figures only serve to underline what business has been saying for some time now – that too many schools are failing to turn out young people prepared for the world of work. And the problem starts all the way back at primary school.
Granted, there have been recent signs of progress and the council's education chief is honest enough to admit that, historically, our schools have not delivered. He also points to the fact that all but one of the city's recently inspected schools have been rated as "good". That rate of progress must continue.
More action is promised in the form of a new Ofsted regional director for the East Midlands to help under-performing schools improve quickly.
In a city like ours, with giants of industry like Rolls-Royce, Toyota and Bombardier and a thriving hi-tech sector, it should never be difficult for parents to find good or outstanding schools for their children. Sadly, it appears that it is.
Addressing the performance of our schools should now be our city's number one priority. And, if more leadership is what is needed, perhaps the new regional director should look not just to the educators but to those driving our local economy for help.