Every Reading student has been allocated a secondary school place this year, despite higher pupil numbers than ever before.
This year, Reading schools have been more popular than ever, with a greater number of residents choosing schools in the Borough than schools outside it. Reading Girls has increased in popularity this year and the WREN School, Highdown School and Maiden Erlegh, Reading all continue to be popular choices.
First preference offers stand at 64% this year, compared to 66% in 2018. The number of students not allocated any of their preferences decreased slightly from 12.58% last year to 12.28% this year. On National Offer Day there were no surplus places in Reading schools this year, compared to 85 on offer day in 2018, 221 in 2017 and 274 in 2016.
A shortage of spaces and our statutory duty to provide every child who had an on-time application with a school place on National Offer Day meant we had to ask a number of schools to either to take an additional class or additional children per class.
Extra classes have gone in at Highdown School, The Wren School and Blessed Hugh Faringdon Catholic School. Maiden Erlegh in Reading has taken an additional 12 students.
The percentage of pupils allocated to schools outside Reading fell to 26.44% this year from as high as 34.78% in 2016.
Councillor’s advice surgery: Church Ward Councillors will be available to discuss any issues with residents on Saturday 2nd March at 10.30am-12pm at The Whitley Café.
Policy Committee meeting: Ashley will be present in his role as Lead member for education on Monday 11th March at 6.30pm at the Civic Centre.
Full Council meeting: Church Ward Councillors will be in attendance at the Full Council meeting on Tuesday 26th March at 6.30pm at the Civic Centre.
Canvassing– Councillors and activists will be out speaking to residents on Saturday 23rd March at 11.30am on Whitley Wood Road.
WhitFest Showcase: A showcase of talent in Whitley as part of WhitFest will take place at the Whitley Cafe on Friday March 1st. More details can be found here: http://www.aspire2whitley.com
St.Patricks Hall appeal hearing: The appeal hearing in which Reading Borough Council and Councillors are fighting against Reading Universities aggressive expansion will begin on Tuesday 19th March at the town hall. Ashley will be speaking on behalf of residents.
Ward walk: Councillors will spend the afternoon of Sunday 24th March walking all areas of the ward checking for fly tipping, parking issues and the general upkeep of the area. Please stop to speak to us if you see people wearing rosettes!
Labour Councillors and activists in Church Ward will be delivering the Church Ward Spring newsletter in February to keep residents up to date with the work Councillors are doing. A copy of the newsletter can be found below:
At this months ACE committee the Council and Brighter Futures for Children will be setting out our priorities for Education in Reading. The document will be a living document that will evolve and grow. The strategy has 7 main strands with our focus being on lowering the rate of exclusions, increasing capacity for our SEN students and closing the attainment gap with our pupils.
We have some excellent provision, great teachers, hard working staff and Governors across our schools in Reading, but we also realise there are areas we can improve. Resources are tight as budgets continue to be squeezed so we must focus our intervention and support to where the need is greatest. We must ensure provision and outcomes are more even so that ALL of our educators have the skills and capacity to learn from each other.
Our provision for SEN students will increase with 2 new ASC units in our Primary schools, a new ASC unit opening at Blessed Hugh Farringdon, the Avenue expanding, Phoenix college being relocated and a bid for a new SEND Free school. The aim of all of this is to increase expert capacity in Reading so students can be educated nearer to home.
Our exclusions are too high, and there is a big cross over with our disadvantaged and SEN students here. Schools cannot solve all of societies problems but we can do more to support schools and help them understand and work with these young people. Our trauma informed approach to managing behaviour has been discussed with schools and has been received well. We will be looking to extend practical use of this within our schools.
The strategy sets out a practical plan on what our education team will focus on, how we will achieve more for our students and how all of the organisations involved can work together to e sure our students get the start in life they deserve.
A new Fair Workload Charter for Readings teachers will be announced at the ACE committee meeting this month. The charter has been agreed with the Council, head teachers, and teachers unions as a blue print for teacher well being in Reading.
The charter will help both teachers and head teachers understand how to cut down workload to more manageable levels. It is workload over everything else that teachers cite as the main reason for leaving the profession, an issue becoming more and more important as the teacher shortage deepens. The charter contains practical examples and advice on how schools and teachers can cut down on workload in agreement with Ofsted and DFE guidelines. It also lets teachers know where to go and what they can do if their workload is getting too much.
This charter will form part of a wider package of measures that Brighter Futures for Children are currently working on to help with recruiting and retaining our teachers. Our teachers are probably under more strain that ever before, with dwindling resources, class sizes rising and demands increasing, we need to do all we can to let them know they are valued and supported.