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Monthly Archives: August 2018

Impressive GCSE results for Reading’s pupils

Pupils in Reading have performed well in the face of further changes to this year’s GCSE examinations, with tougher exams and now no coursework elements being applicable. Provisional figures from schools in the borough show that 62% of GCSE pupils achieved grades 9 – 4 in English and Maths (broadly the same as the old A*-C measure), matching last year’s figure. 

The number achieving the higher 9 – 5 grades, similar to A* – bottom B/high C, was 48 per cent compared with 50 per cent last year.
Initial figures show an increase in the percentage of students achieving Ebacc subject qualifications from 28 per cent in 2017 to 30 per cent. Attainment 8 scores which measure student progress were similar with 49.35 this year compared with 49.60 last year.
Congratulations to all the students who have worked so hard to attain these results and to their teachers for their commitment and dedication.
Behind these statistics are stories of individual effort and achievement and I’d like to wish every student future success in their chosen paths.

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A-level results in Reading

Last Thursday saw hundreds of students, their families and their teachers receive their A level results. This one grade on a sheet of paper is often seen as the culmination of 15 years of education in schools. Students should be rightly proud of the results they achieved. Exams are stressful, difficult and require hard work over a number of years to pass. But as a teacher of many years I have seen many factors out of students hands that can effect performance. Nerves and stress on the day, the questions that come up, the examiner that marks it and grade boundaries all play a part. If students didn’t get the results they wanted, there are still many opportunities and many avenues to go down. It’s the beginning not the end.

In Reading we had nearly 700 students taking A level exams in our schools, more than last year. But we cannot forget that as a small authority, many of our students that live in the Borough go to schools on the outskirts and vice versa. West Berkshire and Wokingham schools will also educate many of our young people. In terms of percentages, there was a slight increase in those students achieving the top end marks and a slight dip in those achieving a pass. Every one of our schools, is striving year on year for improvements in exam performance against the backdrop of lower funding from central Governemt and a difficult recruitment arena. Overall, students across Reading continue to achieve excellent results in their A level exams, with increases in the top grades achieved across many of our schools, alongside more pupils sitting these tougher exams. 

Every students succesful result is the culmination of years of hard work from themselves, their teachers and their parents. Everyone involved is a vital part of the school system and each should be congratulated. Overall results and percentages tend to be looked at on days like this, but it is the importance of these results to each individual student that really counts and the difference they can make to these young people’s lives.

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September events

  • Councillors surgery: Ward Councillors and the Whitley area PCSO will be at The Whitley Cafe on Saturday 1st September from 10.30am-12pm. Please come along and discuss any local issues.
  • Church Ward Labour party meeting: members of the local party will be meeting to discuss issues & campaigning on Tuesday 18th September at 7pm at 103 Northcourt Avenue.
  • Ridgeway Governors meeting: Ashley will be discussing the schools new year in his last meeting as Chair of Governors on Wednesday 26th September at 7pm at Ridgeway.
  • Canvassing: Ashley, Paul and Ruth will be out in the ward to discuss the local area and any issues on Saturday 22nd at 11am on Foxhays Road, Tuesday 18th at 5.30pm on Hazel Crescent & Sycamore Road and Wednesday 26th at 5.30pm on Rushden Drive & Hollydale.
  • I, Daniel Blake at Reading Film Theatre: The RFT will be showing Ken Loach’s film about someone living life on Universal Credit on Thursday 13th September starting at 7.30pm.
  • Policy Committee meeting: Ashley will be present in his role as Lead member for education on Monday 24th September at 6.30pm at the Civic Centre.
  • Governors briefing: Ashley will be speaking with Governors from across the town at The Avenue School on Tuesday 11th September at 6.30pm.
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SEN provision in Reading

The 2014 Childrens and Families Act made it law that special educational needs provision must be constantly under review. This means that we are always looking at ways to improve the education provision for our youngsters with additional needs all the time. Here in Reading around 15% of our school students have some form of special educational need with around 3% having an EHCP (Educational health and care plan), that identify and tailor support to students with additional funding.

Reading Council has been working with Reading Families Forum (parents of pupils with SEN) and Special United (some of our young people with SEN) to help shape the future provision in Reading as best we can to help meet young people’s needs. Some of our main priorities and projects over the next year include:

  • Improve early identification of need within our youngsters. In 2017/18 the Council turned 401 statements into EHCPs which was a vast improvement on the 463 in the previous 3 years and was praised by Ofsted. It is vital we work with schools, nurseries, GPs and pre schools to identify as early as possible the needs of our students.
  • Extending The Base for students with autism at Blessed Hugh Farringdon. This will involve a new building being built that will increase capacity from 15 to 30 students. This will mean more students being able to stay in mainstream provision within the Borough.
  • At Primary level we are looking at replicating the Ark centre for primary students with autism in two other schools across town. The Ark caters for 21 students at Christ the King in South Reading, and we will be looking to replicate this in a school in the north and the west of the town. This will increase capacity and cut down on these students having to travel across town. These schools will then be able to provide expert outreach to other schools to help improve provision.
  • The Avenue school is in the process of applying to extend an area of the school to provide additional spaces for 25 students with differing needs.
  • Phoenix College which provides education for students with SEMH (Social, Emotional, and Mental Health) needs is currently based at an outdated building on Christchurch Road. We are actively looking at sites for a new modern facility at a different site in Reading. This will provide a better learning environment for students in the future.

These improvements are against the back drop of Government cutting funding per pupils by 8% and our SEN youngsters often suffer worse than this.
This week there is a Disability Awareness Fun day at The Weller Centre in Caversham. The day runs from 11a.m.-2pm and is a great way to learn more.

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Survey on how to spend neighbourhood levy in Church Ward

Every time the Council agrees for a large building project to go ahead, the developer has to pay the Council what is called Community Infrastructure Levy or CIL which is used to help the town prepare facilities Unocal areas. Some of this money is kept back for the specific area involved, the Council wants to hear your view on how this should be spent.

CIL consultation link

The above link will enable you to fill out your details and say how you would like the money to be spent in your area. All of the projects we hope would benefit the local area but pleases let us know your thoughts.

Consultation Doc

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Reading University to appeal St.Pats Hall planning decision

The University of Reading today advised that they will be appealing the decision of Reading Borough Councils planning committee in February to reject the plans to redevelop St.Patrick’s hall on Northcourt Avenue.

The decision at the meeting in February was unanimous in its rejection of the proposals based upon the scale of the proposals in terms of over development and student numbers, impacts on local residents in the area and historic buildings nearby. A media report from the time can be found below:

https://www.inyourarea.co.uk/news/university-dealt-blow-as-st-patricks-hall-plans-are-rejected/

Cllr Ashley Pearce and MP Matt Rodda are meeting with the Universities new Vice Chancellor Robert Van Der Noort later this month to discuss the appeal. We will also be discussing the issue with Reading Councils planning department and residents of Northcourt Avenue.

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Council letter to Kendrick regarding expansion proposal

The Local Authority recognises from Kendrick School ‎a genuine desire to increase their admissions to the school for both Reading students and those eligible for Pupil Premium. The changing of their admissions criteria to encourage those eligible for Pupil Premium as well as those from specific postcodes is to be welcomed, as is their detailed plan for outreach work after negotiation with the authority that will open up opportunities for able girls from within Reading’s most disadvantaged areas.

However we are unable to offer our full backing to this proposed expansion. At a time when other schools are facing a per pupil funding cut of 8%, we believe that this additional funding should be helping all schools and all pupils. ‎We would welcome a commitment from the school to fill all of the additional places available with Reading students eligible for Pupil Premium.

The school has demonstrated it’s willingness to co-operate and adapt to help meet the Council’s educational aims and we hope that this can continue.

Below is a link to Kendrick’s proposed expansion plans:

Kendrick-School-Reading-LA-further-information

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