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Educational Excellence

July 8, 2016 12:41 PM

Liberal Democrat Councillors have commented on a proposal to write to the Secretary of State for Education about the White Paper on Educational Excellence.

Councillor Greg Stone said : There are good grounds for opposing the Government's White Paper and education agenda - and especially fair funding. It is essential nationwide but many schools are struggling at the current funding levels.

But there must be a degree of recognition that the world is moving on with regard to academies. Newcastle's Labour administration has made it clear that it doesn't favour academisation but the reality is that a number of schools have pursued this course already and several more are considering doing so. The administration's view doesn't seem to be shared by these schools.

Local authorities have an important role to play in education but I am not clear what the administration's vision for education excellence actually is. It is not fully developed and it does not have clarity. There is an ongoing role for LEAs in raising attainment, in planning of school places, in planning of school capacity. Liberal Democrat councillors are conscious that attainment is not quite as we might want it to be, as evidenced by the recent OFSTED letter. We note that there has been a lack of senior officer capacity, which has only recently been addressed. We note that there may well be legitimate concerns to express on academies, the White Paper, and fair funding, but we would welcome more clarity on what the administration's strategy on education might be.
Councillor Robin Ashby said : We believe that parents should retain the right to be represented on governing bodies.

Parents have a wide range of expertise, experience and insights which can help a governing body give guidance to Head Teachers. Without it, an important link to the community which schools serve would be severed. And like good non executive directors in public companies or independent members of some of our committees, they should be able to speak up when the need arises.

One of the most important contributions that Liberal Democrats made in Government was the Pupil Premium, broadly related to levels of deprivation.

I was fascinated to read on the websites of Gosforth schools the uses to which they had put the money, and the extra results achieved, and I'm sure it was the same elsewhere in the City. It demonstrated clearly that extra money does make a difference, and also that schools must be accountable in some way in the space between their gates and the Department for Education in Whitehall.