Aiming Higher

Calderdale’s children deserve the best education possible. That’s the message from a group of Councillors who have been examining the Council’s role in making schools as effective as possible.

The Councillors will report their conclusions to Calderdale Council’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Panel on Wednesday 6 March. They are clear that the ambition for all schools in the borough is to be rated good or outstanding by Ofsted. The group urges the Council’s School Effectiveness Team to intervene to challenge and support schools as soon as they have any concerns.

The Chair of Calderdale Council’s Children and Young People’s Services Scrutiny Panel, Cllr Colin Raistrick said:

“Councillors on our Working Party were unanimous that we need to do everything we can to give all our children the best start in life. And this means that all schools must be helped to do the best they can for our young people.”

The working party was chaired by Councillor Anne Collins, the Deputy Chair of Calderdale Council’s Children and Young People’s Services Scrutiny Panel:

“There are some fantastic schools in Calderdale, but others have room for improvement. Regardless of whether schools are maintained schools, academies or the new free schools, the Council should work tirelessly with them to drive up standards.”

In common with many other councils, and in line with Government thinking, the responsibility for school improvement now lies with schools themselves. Consequently, the Council has had to drastically reduce the number of School Effectiveness Officers it employs. The emphasis on school improvement has shifted to ‘clusters’ of schools that control the funding to provide peer support and should ensure that schools which have some difficulties can learn from the best.

Cllr Anne Collins added:

“We have heard about some very impressive improvement in a number of schools when a headteacher from a successful school has spent two or three days a week supporting another school which faces challenges. The school clusters are still new, but have the potential to add to the ways in which schools can improve.

“It is clear to us that leadership in schools is key to driving up standards has this week spoken about the importance of effective governors to schools. We agree that leadership in schools is key to driving up standards. School Governors have an important part to play in this and our Working Party plans to talk to a number of Governors over the next few months to find out how they can best be supported to carry out their vital – and voluntary – role.”

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