The general standard of Coventry Schools has improved significantly in recent times after some problems. Three years ago the schools inspectorate Ofsted showed Coventry had the smallest proportion of schools ranked “good” or “outstanding”in England. Just 42% of the city’s primary schools were ranked in the top two categories.
This performance has now been tuned round in recent times. The proportion of Coventry Primary Schools now judged “good” or better by Ofsted has risen to very nearly 74%. The Key Stage 2 test results for children up to the age of 11 were the best ever achieved in the city.
Before we get too carried away, they are still below the average for England as a whole.
But in a city with higher than average levels of deprivation and considerably higher than average levels of English as a second language, this amounts to a very significant example of improving on previous performance.
The cabinet member for education on Coventry’s Labour-run council, David Kershaw, attributes this to a changed approach within shrinking budgets. Having dispensed with the expensive services of more than 20 advisers, the council has engineered a new strategy, the Coventry Challenge, under which failing schools are “mentored” by outstanding ones.
The shadow education secretary and Stoke Central MP Tristram Hunt supported this policy change and thinks there are general lessons for educational policy nationally.
“Coventry shows that schools succeed most effectively when they work together in partnership and collaboration and, yes, that will be at the heart of Labour’s schools policy and in our manifesto,” he said.
Still some issues with Coventry schools remain
But this is not to say that everything in Coventry schools is improving. The improvement at primary level contrasts sharply with the fortunes of the city’s secondary schools.
London University’s Institute of Education reported: “Secondary schools in the city declined in Ofsted terms and in terms of overall attainment between 2012 and 2014 after several years of steady improvement, leaving them below national averages and in the bottom quintile of authorities nationally.”
Some useful links