Secondary education improvements targeted
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Work is to begin after members of the council’s Children and Young People Committee today endorsed the recommendations of an independent report highlighting the need for urgent action to raise the quality of teaching and learning in the area’s schools.
The report by a group of education experts, was commissioned by the Committee last year in response to evidence of a widening gap between South Gloucestershire secondary schools’ attainment levels and national averages for attainment.
It sets out 14 recommendations, including the creation of a district-wide Education Partnership of schools, the local authority, colleges, representatives of local employers and others to drive forward the necessary changes.
Other key recommendations endorsed by the Committee include measures to reduce surplus capacity in the district’s secondary schools. Surplus capacity within the district currently stands at 16.6 per cent, and the report’s authors describe this as a ‘significant factor’ in the underperformance of local schools which must be addressed.
The report also calls for a greater emphasis on technical and employability skills and the creation of new formal partnerships between secondary schools to promote more effective co-working and collaboration in key areas such as sixth-form provision.
Measures to improve pupils’ progression between primary and secondary schools, through the development of a Year 5-8 ‘learning pathway’, are also recommended.
Officers will now work with schools and other partners to draw up detailed plans setting out how the report’s recommendations can be implemented.
In a separate item, the Committee also considered and approved proposals to consult on the closure of The Grange School in Warmley from 2016 while also pursuing funding for a smaller specialist Studio School, with an emphasis on employability and enterprise skills, on the same site.
Consultation on the closure of The Grange in its current form was recommended by officers following unsuccessful attempts to identify an academy sponsor for the school after it was placed in special measures last year.
Under the proposals to be put to consultation, the school would be closed to new entrants from 2015 and to all pupils from 2016. Children currently studying for GCSEs would be able to complete their studies at the school, if closure were approved, and current Year 7 and 8 pupils would be offered places at the new studio school or in nearby schools.
Commenting on the Committee’s decisions, committee chair Cllr Ian Blair said: “The Education Commission’s independent report has highlighted the significant challenges we face and difficult decisions we must take if we are to deliver the high quality secondary education that our young people deserve.
“Consultation on the closure of The Grange is undoubtedly a difficult decision but in light of the Commission’s findings and the circumstances that the Grange finds itself, the Committee considered it the right one. We will now await the outcomes of the consultation before making a final decision on the future of the school.”
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