Nottingham schools making progress on their ‘journey of improvement’

Pupils, parents, teachers and staff have been praised for the improvements made in Nottingham schools.

Councillor Sam Webster, Portfolio Holder for Education, Employment and Skills at Nottingham City Council, has acknowledged the combined efforts, which have seen the city begin to move up league tables for attendance and the number of Ofsted-rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ schools.

However, Councillor Webster has reiterated that the hard work doesn’t stop there – the next challenge is to improve the city’s GCSE results and to reduce the number of permanent exclusions.

New figures show that 83% of schools in Nottingham are now rated by national regulator Ofsted as either good or outstanding – an increase of 3% on last year and a climb of 16 places up the national league table. This figure was 72% in December 2013.

Latest successes include:

• Walter Halls Primary and Early Years School – rated good (up from ‘requires improvement’)
• Glenbrook Primary and Nursery School – rated good (new inspection)
• The Bluecoat Beechdale Academy – rated good (new inspection)

On overall attendance for all schools, the city sat 143th out of 152 authorities in 2014, but a major push to encourage more pupils into class – while issuing fines at the request of schools to the parents of persistently-absent children – has seen Nottingham climb more than 20 places to 120th.

Figures show that 4.8% of pupils were absent from schools and academies in the city last year, which has come down from 7.2% in 2009/10 and at a time when absence is not reducing nationally. The gap between Nottingham and the national position for overall absence is now the smallest it has been for at least seven years.

Councillor Webster said: “I’m really proud of the hard work and commitment shown not only by our teachers and school staff, but also parents, carers and pupils too. The Council’s message about the importance of children being in school every day is clearly getting through and the City will reap the benefits through increased attainment in the years to come.

“We know evidence shows us that if a child misses 17 days of school, it can be the difference between a grade at GCSE level. Our push on boosting attendance in Nottingham schools since 2014 has seen thousands of extra hours of lesson time secured – this is priceless to our children’s education.

“We also want to make sure that every parent in the City has access to a good school close to home. Our ambitious £41.9m primary expansion plan will have created 4,000 additional places by 2022, and we are also seeing the number of good or outstanding-rated schools increasing.

“This is just as important. Parents and carers now have more options at a time when demand continues to grow, and it was satisfying this week to see that the Council was able to offer places at first or second-choice primary schools to nearly 95% of them.”

The recent improvements have allowed the City to bounce back from December 2013 when six secondary schools were placed in special measures.

Councillor Webster added: “We know that we still have a lot of work to do. We’ve made a great start in the past few years but we need to carry that momentum forward to drive up standards even further.

“A City the size of Nottingham – one with a long-held national reputation for excellence in many fields – should not be languishing at the foot of GCSE league tables. It will take a few years for the improvements we are seeing currently to translate into improved exam results, but we must keep working together to get better.

“Part of that also means encouraging schools and academies to use permanent exclusions only as a last resort with challenging pupils, and we can work with them to help bring those numbers down and support youngsters to achieve their potential.

“However, this cannot be achieved individually. It will be a collective effort by the Council, schools, academies, teachers, staff, parents and, of course, the pupils themselves. We’re making great strides so far on this journey of improvement in Nottingham and I want to see that continue into the future.”

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