County councillor says quality is more important than status for schools

Coun John Peck, chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council's children and young people's committee
Coun John Peck, chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council's children and young people's committee

A Nottinghamshire County Councillor says the quality of school leadership and teaching are key to good performance rather than a school’s status

In Chancellor George Osborne’s Budget speech last week, he announced plans to turn every school in the country into an academy.

He has committed extra funding for this with the aim that by 2020.

This means that within the lifeline of this Parliament, every school will be in the process of being converted.

But Coun John Peck, chairman of the council’s children and young people’s committee, feels making schools academies will not instantly change them into top performing schools if the quality of teaching is not there.

He said: “Clearly our priority is doing what is best for Nottinghamshire school children across the county and we continue to strive to maintain and improve education standards.

“There’s no evidence that conversion to academy status produces better performing schools.

“This is something that is down to the quality of leadership and teaching.

“Forty of our secondary schools have already converted to academies.

“Five are still under local authority control and one is changing to academy status from April.

“Ofsted has rated 83 per cent of all of our Local Authority maintained schools, including secondary schools, as either good or outstanding.

“Out of the county’s 281 primary schools, 240 are still local authority maintained with strong primary school performance being testament to our ongoing work to drive up standards.

“When comparing Nottinghamshire to other local authorities in terms of the percentage of pupils achieving the expected level in reading, writing and maths at the end of primary school – Key Stage Two – in 2015.

“As a county, we have improved our position on the previous year from 69th to 65th.

“If you apply the same measure to academy primary schools, the proportion of pupils achieving this standard has fallen by nearly nine per cent since 2012.

“And during the same period, conversely, our maintained primaries have been on an upward trajectory in terms of educational attainment across these areas.

“I think it is a matter for school governors to decide whether they wish their school to become an academy or not, and should not fall to the Secretary of State to force schools into academy status.

“It’s very early days – these proposals still need to become law.

“So we are yet to find out how the conversion process will be resourced here at the council,.

“But given the number of schools involved and our experience managing the volume of conversions to date, we do know that these plans are likely to have a major impact on our resources in the future.”