Ash pearce - Labour Church Ward Councillor
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Education

Education Updates from Reading’s schools

School closures

What the Government/Dfe have said:

As of Friday afternoon (March 20th) many schools across the country will officially close.

Some schools will remain open to children of key workers as safe spaces. This list includes workers from the NHS, the military, teachers and childcare, care homes, social workers, police, fire, prison officers, delivery drivers, supermarket workers, infrastructure, highways agency, environmental health and local authority planners. This list may be added too. Those with EHCPs, Children looked after and children with a social worker will also be able to attend school. The Government expects this to be around 10% of the usual school population. These schools will remain open over the usual Easter holiday.

A plan is currently being worked on for a national voucher system that can be used in supermarkets for those on free school meals to ensure no child goes hungry when away from school.

There will be no formal exams this Summer, this includes year 6 SATs, year 11 GCSEs and year 13 A-levels. There will also be no school league tables published this year.

The Government have said that how grades will be awarded will be announced tomorrow (20/3) and the aim is to award grades under a different process and system in August.

Universities have said students should not lose out on the chance to go to University this year.

Trainee teachers have been told that they will pass their teaching qualification year and provide support in the next couple of years.

Here in Reading

Please check your individual School website for the best and most up to date advice. You can also check for updates on the Dfe website and the Brighter Futures For Children website. These will have the best, most accurate and up to date website.

We have been working on and speaking with our schools to decide which will be open and available for key workers in the coming weeks, we will let everyone know as soon as we can which and where these are. It is a huge logistical challenge with many people working round the clock to sort.

Working at home

I know that many Schools and many teachers would have already been in contact regarding working from home. But please remember that teachers are humans too. We have our own families we may well now have to look after, relatives to provide for and may be fighting illness themselves. I’m sure you’re aware of how much time, effort, energy and passion your child’s teachers put in and will continue to do so. In many ways schools have not closed, they have adapted. We are all getting used to this and will evolve. I couldn’t be prouder or more grateful for how much work the school staff across Reading’s schools have put in this week. To every one of them, thank you so much.

The Government

These are unprecedented times, this is all new and many people are working flat out. I would urge the Government to act quickly to provide clarity, guidance and assurance on a range of school issues however. Head teachers have been amazing this week but they deserve more help.

A personal view

I’ve been a secondary school teacher for nearly 15 years and have never known a day like today. I looked round many times today with a tear in my eye to other staff I’ve worked with for a long long time, we’ve seen and experienced many things but this was tough. We had to tell both years 11 and 13 that all the work they’ve put in over the years will not have a definitive end point. That we don’t know how their grades will be awarded. That we don’t know how their University places will be decided. That we don’t know when or if they will be back in school. That their last day is either now it tomorrow when they expected it to be 2 months away. That we dont know when they will get their prom. I know all of our teachers have had to have these discussions with worried students from all year groups and how hard it is. I have found the day incredibly emotionally draining and when I left school just burst into tears.

Thank you

But wanted to end with another huge thank you. These are incredible times but luckily Reading is lucky to have incredible people running and working in our schools. We will adapt, we will provide and we will educate. It’s what we do best.

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More secondary school students get first choice school in admissions round

Today’s national allocation day for secondary school places sees more Reading parents getting the first choice for their children than last year. 72.6% of students got their first choice secondary school up by 8.6% from last year. With 11.8% getting their second choice and 5.85% getting their third choice, that means over 90% of our students were offered one of their top 3 choices. Of the students that will need to be diverted, most have been offered places in Reading schools.

These admissions show the faith Reading parents have in our schools with more parents than ever choosing to send their children to our schools. It also demonstrates the good pupil place planning and efficiency of the admissions team at Brighter Futures For Children. We would like to thank them for their hard work as well as all of the teams at our Secondary Schools.

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Lord Agnew writes positively about Reading’s schools

Under Secretary of State at the Department for Education Lord Agnew recently wrote to Brighter Futures for Children with some praise and recent statistics from our Schools.
The highlights included (Primary):

-Between 20010-2018, Reading created 4095 new primary School places. This was due to the successful expansion of many of our Primary Schools across the Borough who agreed to increase their capacity to cope with the increased level of Primary aged pupils, up 40% in the last decade.
-12,108 Reading primary School students attend a School rated Good or Outstanding by Ofsted (86% of the total).
-96.4% of Primary School applicants received one of their top 3 School preferences, and we would always encourage parents to put down more than one choice on their child’s application.
-The Local Authority also has a good record on forecasting Primary pupil numbers. In terms of predicting Primary numbers a year ahead, numbers were just 2.5% higher than predicted, whilst over a 3 year prediction period this was out by 6.9%, with the highest outliers nationally being some LA’s predicting numbers 6.4% under and some predicting 13% over.

(Secondary):
-Between 20010-2018, Reading created over 3000 new Secondary School places. This was done by the building of 2 new secondary schools in the Borough (with a third on the way) and some of our secondary’s agreeing to expand. This was to cope with a 64% increase in secondary pupil numbers in the last decade.
-85.1% of Secondary School applicants received one of their top 3 School preferences, and again, we would always encourage parents to put down more than one choice on their child’s application. Last year more Reading parents chose Reading schools than previous years.
-Our attainment 8 score at GCSE was 51 this year (up by 2 from last year), the % achieving 4+ including English and Maths was 65% (up 4% on last year) and the % achieving 5+ including English and Maths was 53% (up by 6%). The number of students achieving A-level grades A-E has increased. 98% of students gained A-E grades this year compared with 94% last year, an increase of 4%. With the number of young people achieving A*-C passes was 78% compared with 77% in 2018.
-The Local Authority also has a good record on forecasting Secondary pupil numbers also. In terms of predicting secondary numbers a year ahead, numbers were just 0.5% lower than predicted, whilst over a 3 year prediction period this was out by 7.4%, with the highest outliers nationally being some LA’s predicting numbers 5.3% under and some predicting nearly 15% over.

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Key stage 2 results

Reading’s score of 63% of pupils achieving the expected results in reading, writing and maths at KS2 puts us on a par with both E Sussex and W Sussex (which face very different challenges) in the South East. The national average is 65% and we continue to work with our primary schools to improve standards and achievements through our Schools Standards Service.

Of the 13,688 primary school pupils in Reading, 12,008 are in Outstanding or Good schools.

But we know we have work to do to get KS2 results up. The gap in results at KS2 between our schools and the national average is falling but there is still a gap. Whether locally maintained, Academies or Free schools these are the young people of Reading and all deserve the best start, so we need to find a way of working with our non LA schools to drive improvement. We will be bringing a report to the ACE committee in the Summer that details KS2 results and our plan across Reading Primary Schools to help achieve this.

Further up the school process, our schools results continue to impress. Our Progress 8 score, which measures progress from KS2 to KS4 is the ninth best in the South East (out of 20 local authorities) but the achievements of pupils in our secondary schools are above the national average, both in terms of GCSE and A Level results. In fact, Reading schools produced the top A level results in the country last year and our Attainment 8 score of 50.4% puts us as the fourth highest in the South East.

But none of this is in isolation. Our schools have seen 8% per pupil funding cuts since 2010. Fewer teachers, fewer Learning support assistants, fewer resources and bigger class sizes. Many of our students are also starting school at lower levels than a decade ago. Child poverty is higher, housing and jobs are often more insecure and pre school services have been cut to the bone. By the time our students leave KS2, and then when they leave the School system at KS4 or KS5, they are in a much better position than they started. That is thanks to the incredible work of our schools and teachers not the slash and burn policy of this Tory Government. 

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Schools climate change work

At Monday’s policy committee meeting i will respond to a question on eco schools. I would like to take the chance to talk more widely about the work our schools are doing to help meet the challenge of climate change.

There are 49 eco-schools in the borough, of which 28 have achieved the bronze award and 15 the silver award.

But as well as this there is a lot of work going on in our schools after a climate emergency was declared by the Council last year. 

There are 2 main branches of the work on this-in classrooms and out of classrooms. In classrooms, last November Brighter Futures for Children held their first ever climate emergency summit at Alfred Sutton School that was well attended by Schools across Reading. The aim of this is for every school in Reading to have at least one lead teacher for climate change. Once qualified, the teachers will be collectively tasked with helping pupils learn about the causes, extent and solutions to the climate issues facing the world today.

In December last year Reading Council also hosted a climate summit for students based on its UN equivalent. Here students debated how each country can cooperate to reduce carbon emissions, and proposed everyday actions that can make a difference in their own schools and wider school communities across the Reading area. On top of this I know that many schools have their own eco reps and have won individual prizes for their schools for green initiatives and raising awareness of climate issues, and many are also using the Clean Air Schools resources in classrooms that have been provided by Friends of the Earth. . All of these things help arm our young people with the knowledge and importance of the climate emergency going forward. 

We have also been doing our bit outside of the classroom. We recently undertook a heating and electrical review of our schools, approved at a policy committee meeting last year that will help improve the energy efficiency of our schools lowering both their costs and energy use. Our new secondary school to be located on Richfield Avenue will be built to BREEAM standards which gives third party certification of the assessment of an asset’s environmental, social and economic sustainability performance. 

We are encouraging Schools, local residents and ward Councillors to get into contact with us if they believe their area will benefit from the introduction of School streets, a campaign aimed at reducing danger and pollution around pick up and drop off times for students. Alongside these, we are encouraging our schools to review and update their travel plans to ensure that safety and sustainability are at the forefront of thinking when it comes to pupils getting to School. 

Lots of work has been undertaken already but we are aware there is lots still to do and look forward to meeting this challenge. “

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Phoenix college planning application

Phoenix college is a School for some of the most vulnerable young people in the Reading area. All pupils on roll are statemented and many have been permanently excluded from mainstream schools. Safeguarding is paramount for these students, even more so than in mainstream schools. When Phoenix moves site it is planned to have capacity for 64 students aged between 11-18 with social, emotional and mental health disorders. Currently the school has 43, male only, students on roll but the new school will also accept females.

Transport

The aim of the schools transport plan is to “encourage use of more sustainable models of travel to car use, to reduce car alone journeys to and from school to keep the impact of travel to school on the local community at a minimum”.

Cycle parking for 10 bikes will be provided for staff and visitors in the car park area. It is anticipated that students will, in the main, arrive by minibus or taxi. It could also be possible for more able students to use the bus to get to college. Many of the students will travel by transport provided by Reading Borough Council. School travel and sustainable travel is to be embedded in the curriculum and the school has already started a bikeability program with students.

In the 2018/19 school year, 3 students came to school by taxi, 3 dropped off by a parent, 6 cycled and the rest came by public transport. Parents of the students and staff will be provided with a simple survey to complete to gather general information about travel trends. A detailed transport plan will be available.

Local community and environment

The school will be available for the community in the evenings from 6pm-9pm Monday to Friday. Local football teams currently use the field on Saturday and new changing facilities will be provided to support this use. The far eastern end of the site will become an orchard/wildlife area creating a buffer zone between the school and its closest neighbours. There will be works to improve drainage of the playing field to reduce waterlogged pitches in the winter. There will be a new artificial turf pitch to replace the out dated tennis courts.

The relocation of this school gives us the chance to give some of Reading’s most vulnerable young people the facilities they deserve to start their lives.

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Ashley visits Reading Girls school

Ashley paid a visit to Reading Girls School on Northumberland Avenue this month alongside Whitley Councillor Rachel Eden. Educational issues including admissions and Ofsted were discussed with the Principal Jon Gargan. The school was this year the highest performing non selective school in Reading, being in the top 5% in the country for progress.

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High stakes testing motion

These tests are flawed and have a detrimental effect on students, teachers and parents. The stress, worry and anxiety add hugely to teacher’s workload, they worsen students experience and view of education whilst adding to mental health problem and add undue pressure to households as we’ve heard from fellow Councillors tonight. And for what end? All educational research points to regular LOW stakes testing being the key to raising pupil retention of knowledge and then attainment, not the extreme pressure testing that SAT’s provide. This is not to say that there doesn’t need to be some form of assessment of pupil performance, but this system needs to be a more flexible and more practical system that trusts and empowers teachers. At the moment, teachers are being forced to teach to the test when they could be doing so much more to enrich students lives with the opportunity’s education gives us. Virgin have recently said that they will no longer be looking at exam results when recruiting staff, this may be a bit further up the education timeline than SAT’s but echoes what Jeremy Corbyn recently said and I wholeheartedly agree with-“We need to prepare children for life, not just for exams”. The full motion is set out below.

This council believes that campaigning, by those who work in primary schools, parents and academics, to end the current high-stakes system of primary assessment should be welcomed, in particular the More Than A Score campaign.
Reading Borough Council resolves:
1) To express its support for campaigns against the current system of primary assessment from parents, Governors, Schools and teaching unions.
2) To call a meeting of all interested parties to discuss the council’s position on these matters and to coordinate a response.
3) To lobby the Secretary of State for Education to listen to the growing number of voices who are calling for the abolition of high-stakes testing in primary schools.
4) To offer support and guidance to schools within the area which adopt an alternative approach to assessment

Reading Borough Council welcomes the commitment of the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party to abolish SATs and other high-stakes testing in primary schools.
It notes that:
1) Statutory testing in primary schools has increased since 2010 and is increasing further: by 2020, children will be tested in Reception (the Baseline Assessment), Year 1 (the Phonics Screening Check), Year 2 (SATs), Year 4 (the Multiplication Tables Check) and Year 6 (SATs).
2) The pressures of statutory assessment contribute to the crisis of teacher morale, workload, recruitment and retention.
3) Tests are focussed on the requirements of school accountability and league tables rather than on support for children’s learning.
4) The pressures of testing in primary schools have a detrimental effect on children’s mental health.
5) Educational research has demonstrated repeatedly that teaching to the test narrows the curriculum and the educational experience of children, focussing on labelling, learning how to pass a test but not learning.

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School standards and attainment: 2018/19-October ACE report

At my school we have a marking policy not unfamiliar in many schools, ours is WWW and EBW or What Went Well and Even Better When. This is a system that works as it picks out the positives in students work but also gives pointers as to where improvements can be made. I think this is also an apt way of looking at school standards in Reading from the last year. Difficult to some in this politically divided day and age where everything is either all good or all bad but in reality, the truth lies somewhere in between.

So to start with the WWW. More parents are choosing Reading schools to educate their children than previously, bums on seats is one of the best indicators of progress for schools. Exclusions are falling, both the rate of them and the number of them. This is in no small part to the work across our schools of the Therapeutic Thinking approach which the majority of our schools have signed up to. The percentage of our schools rated good or outstanding by Ofsted has increased from 77-85%. Despite my many misgivings regarding Ofsted, this must be celebrated and huge congratulations to those schools who have recently endured the stress and addition to workload of a visit and come out the other side. When we get the validated results, we can say more at a future ACE meeting regarding overall A-level and GCSE scores but initial indications show us that these are also on the increase from last year.

But we know we also have some work to do to be even better. At key stage 2 the gap in results between our schools and the national average is falling but there is still a gap. Whether locally maintained, Academies or Free schools these are the young people of Reading and all deserve the best start, so we need to find a way of working with our non LA schools to drive improvement. There is a similar picture with our disadvantaged students which is one of the focuses of our education strategy, the gap is falling but there is still a gap which we must close. We also know that we need to improve our provision and offer with regards to SEN, another focus of our education strategy, and steps are in place to increase capacity in the first instance.

So it is a mixed picture across education in Reading but I would like to stress schools don’t operate in a vacuum. Schools operate in a society and context that other factors, especially Government driven factors have a massive impact. Some areas of Reading have an 11-year difference in life expectancy from one another, but we don’t bang on the doors of GP surgeries and blame them. But we do with schools. A decade of austerity has seen teachers’ pay cut massively with workload rising, funding per pupil in schools has fallen by 8% (nearly double this for SEN students), constant meddling of curriculum but also wider social factors have a massive impact-universal credit, low wages, poor and temporary housing, the closing and thinning out of youth services and early years help. All of these things have an impact on our young people’s lives and education, its just often teachers and schools that carry the can.

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School Funding promises not enough

Whilst any additional funding to schools is welcome this is not sufficient to plug the gaps schools have suffered at the hands of nearly a decade of Government cuts. This still leaves schools with less funding than 2010 as schools have seen budgets slashed every year of this Conservative Government.

Teachers wages have also seen a huge real terms decline whilst workload has increased. A decade of slashed funding has seen buildings become outdated, teaching assistants let go, teachers not being replaced, dwindling resources and in some cases, parents being asked to cover costs that Government should be funding. During this time schools costs have also rocketed-with salary increases, pension contributions and NI contributions all rising but not funded by Government. 

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Nursery funding question response

For years our governments have neglected fundamental educational issues – such as funding and teacher recruitment – in favour of what are, at best, secondary issues, and at worst mere ideological passions.

Early years education has not been spared such treatment. “There seems to be little strategic direction to government policy on early years,” concluded the House of Commons Education Select Committee in February – and this is, in truth, an understatement. 
The Department for Education and Ofsted have devoted much of their energy to promoting sweeping and contentious changes to the early years curriculum, while studiously failing to address what is for many providers an existential crisis of funding.

Nowhere is this tension clearer than in the maintained nursery sector. While ministers and inspectors talk as if one of the main factors to prevent the narrowing of the attainment gap is the reluctance of the sector to adopt a more formalised curriculum, they overlook far more potent problems: the effect of benefit cuts, the rise in child poverty, and the decision to drain away resources from forms of provision that could work against such a programme of social destruction.
The achievements of maintained nursery schools are well-known. They demonstrate the difference that specialist, integrated provision can make. Concentrated in the poorest areas, they give priority in their admissions to disadvantaged children and children with special educational needs and disabilities. And they have the expertise and skills to support them successfully. 

As research quoted by Early Education points out, in 2018 maintained nurseries had the highest percentage of children who were at risk of developing special educational needs. Yet many children identified as “at risk” at age 3 had caught up with their typically developing peers by the age of 5. 
In a country where education policy was based on reason, evidence and a commitment to social justice, achievements like these would be studied, celebrated and copied. 

But, as England enters its 10th year of austerity, the opposite is happening. These nurseries will lose nearly a third of their funding in 2020 if supplementary funding is not continued.  Uncertainty hangs over the whole sector. In July, three in 10 told Early Education that they were unsure about their immediate future, Chancellor Sajid Javid and education secretary Gavin Williamson have announced what they claim are “step-change” increases in educational spending. But they have said nothing about maintained nurseries, other than a promise to keep the issue of funding under review.
This isn’t good enough. Guaranteeing to fund maintained nursery schools at 2016-17 levels should be among the top items on Javid’s list. Its absence is a scandal. 

In the face of this neglect, we on this side are supporting the School Cuts petition on nursery funding. Autumn will be a turbulent time for politics in Britain. But, whatever happens, we will make sure that the needs of the youngest, most vulnerable sections of our population are not forgotten. 

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Phoenix college relocation consultation

What the new centre could look like.

Phoenix college is looking to relocate its site to the Hamilton Centre off Bulmershe Road in the next couple of years.

Phoenix College is currently located in a very out dated building that is no longer fit for purpose for a School on Christchurch Road. The school is a special needs school that specialises in the education of secondary aged children with social emotional and mental health issues who cannot attend mainstream schools. It currently has a capacity for 64 students with around 50 currently on roll, whilst the new location, in time, would be able to cater for up to 96 pupils including females (Phoenix is currently all boys).

Phoenix recently received a disappointing Ofsted inspection result which has since seen a change in leadership and governance. The school is also currently going through the process of acadamisation with a trust with a proven track record of success ready to help the school. The next step in improving provision for some of Reading most vulnerable youngsters who attend, is to provide them with adequate facilities.

The Education Skills and funding agency will provide a sum of money to carry out the work necessary to repair and renovate the Hamilton Centre to ensure it is for modern education of these young people. It will also include a multi use games area with shared access to sports pitches.

A consultation to seek resident views will take place at the Hamilton Centre on Thursday 12th September from 3.30pm-6.30pm at Alfred Sutton Primary school (community room).

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The results are in!

Over the last week our Secondary schools have seen both A-level results and GCSE results come in, and an improving picture is emerging. Overall school results will always be affected by cohorts of students, curriculum change, the mix of schools we have here in Reading as well as the in and out of Borough movement our students have due to us being such a small local authority. However these results tell a positive story.

Across the Borough as a whole results are improving at GCSE. Our attainment 8 was 51 this year (up by 2), our % achieving 4+ including English and Maths was 65% (up 4% on last year) and our % achieiving 5+ including English and Maths was 53% (up by 6%). These improvements are all down to the hard work of staff at our schools day in day out throughout the year for which we are always grateful.

The number of students achieving A-level grades A*-E has increased. 98% of students gained A*-E grades this year compared with 94% last year, an increase of 4%. There was a very slight dip in A*-B grades, with 58%of students achieved A*-B across the borough, in-line with the national picture, compared with 62% last year but this year beats 2017’s figure of 57%. The number of young people achieving A*-C passes was 78% compared with 77% in 2018.

Added to this, more parents have chosen to send their kids to Reading schools than ever before in the last admissions round, and two more of our schools (both rated good by Ofsted already) in Maiden Erlegh Reading and The Wren will see students sitting GCSE’s for the first time next Summer. We are also increasing our SEN capacity with a new school for our students with autism due in the next couple of years as well as the new block at Blessed Hugh Faringdon opened at the end of term.

We still have challenges which we will continue to work on. We want our exclusions down, we want the disadvantage gap closed, and we want SEN capacity increased, and there are steps in place already to help achieve this but it will take time. In the mean time I would like to welcome this set of results and thank everyone involved for their hard work: pupils, parents, teachers and Governors.


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Record number of Reading pupils get grades A*- E this year

THE number of students achieving A-level grades A*-E has increased in Reading, according to provisional figures collated by Brighter Futures for Children.

Ninety eight per cent of students gained A*-E grades this year compared with 94 per cent last year, an increase of 4%.

There was a very slight dip in A*-B grades, with 58 per cent of students achieved A*-B across the borough, in-line with the national picture, compared with 62 per cent last year but this year beats 2017’s figure of 57 per cent.

A total of 606 students took A Levels in Reading this year, compared with 691 last year and 673 in 2017.

The number of young people achieving A*-C passes was 78 per cent compared with 77 per cent in 2018.

This is the first year that results have come out where education services are run by Brighter Futures for Children, the not-for-profit company which delivers children’s services, including children’s social care, early help, education and Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) service on behalf of Reading Borough Council.

Tony Kildare, Managing Director of Brighter Futures for Children, said:

‘These results show just how good Reading schools are. They’re a culmination of individual students’ hard work but also a great deal of effort by the schools themselves, and organisations like ours, which offers support to schools, to help them thrive and prosper. It’s no wonder that requests for secondary school placements in Reading are increasing.

‘So we congratulate all those students who got the grades they wanted but, if you didn’t, don’t worry. There are plenty of opportunities still available to you. We have recently taken over an advisory service for young people, and we can offer support and help on further training and employment opportunities.

‘Our advisors are based in Reading Central Library in Abbey Square on the third floor. You can contact them by email: ParticipationandEngagement@brighterfuturesforchildren.org  or call 01189 372 204.’

Cllr Ashley Pearce, Reading’s Lead Councillor for Education, said:

“Today the hard work of students and teachers in schools across Reading has paid off and I would like to congratulate all of those who have achieved great A-level results.

“Behind all the statistics are stories of individuals who have dedicated a great deal of time and effort over a number of years to achieve their grades. For those students that didn’t quite get the grades they were hoping for, I urge them to seek the available support and take time to find the correct next steps in their career path.

“I wish all young people who received their results today every success for the future whatever path they choose to take next.”

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Labour against private schools

I was recently contacted by the Independent Schools Council who were putting forward the merits of private education in response to the recent formation of the Labour against private schools group, below is my response:

Thanks for your recent correspondence advocating the contribution of independent schools to the UK. I am aware of the campaign Group “Labour against private schools” to which I believe you are referring. We are appreciative of the work of staff and teachers in all types of school that are educating our young people across Reading to provide them with as bright a future as possible.

The Labour party will create a National Education Service when it forms the next Government that will focus on “tackling structural, cultural and individual barriers which cause and perpetuate inequality”. As I am sure you are aware, around 7% of the UK population attend private schools but contribute 65% of UK judges, 49% of army officers and 29% of MP’s, as well as a disproportionate number of Oxbridge candidates. Labour’s current policy to help aid attainment and pay for free school meals for all school children, is to remove the VAT exemption on private school fees.

The proposed motion from Labour against private schools wishes to go further, to integrate all private schools into the state sector, including the withdrawal of charitable status, and to then democratically redistribute the educational institutions. This motion will be discussed at the parties’ conference later this year.

I have worked as a teacher in a comprehensive school for over a decade and hugely value the contribution they make to society. These schools are where the huge majority of our young people are educated and not selected based upon ability from a young age or their parents income. These school foster an environment of collaboration, fairness and equal value that the Labour party holds dear.

You discuss the economic contribution that independent schools make to the UK in terms of tax and GDP. Currently, independent school fees are averaging around £17,000 per year which are largely funded by parents of the children that attend your schools. If Independent schools were incorporated into a fully comprehensive system (as was undertaken in Finland), then this large sum of money could be used by parents in a range of other ways, contributing to the UK economy. In terms of tax, as an employee of a state school I am aware that funding for each individual secondary school student per year is around £4000, some way short of the £17,000 average charged in independent schools. To my knowledge the motion is not advocating getting rid of these schools as educational institutions but changing how they are run to reflect a fairer and modern society.

You say that “Independent schools provide excellence, capacity and innovation in our education system. Abolishing independent schools would fail to improve provision for state pupils. The state sector would face higher costs and bigger class sizes.” This is a somewhat debatable point. A recent policy exchange report showed that, while some private schools do a good job of educating children and young people, many do not. The value added scores of the top comprehensive schools at A-level and GCSE out do those from the independent sector, often with far fewer resources.

Under this Government our school pupils have seen an average funding cut of 8% per student whilst tax policies are still benefiting schools serving Britain’s richest. The Labour party’s vision is of a country that works for the many, not just the privileged few. This needs to start from how we educate our children, in a fair and equal way from the very start.
Yours sincerely

Ashley Pearce
Lead Cllr for Education

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