Haringey Council has commissioned an independent review of education in the borough.
The ‘Outstanding for All’ commission is made up of education experts who will produce an initial set of recommendations for the education of 5-18 year olds in September 2012, with a final report by December.
It follows news that Coleraine Park, Noel Park, Downhills and Nightingale Primary were judged ‘unsatisfactory’ by OFSTED, while Education Secretary Michael Gove has called for them to turned into academies.
Gerard Kelly, who is on the panel, wrote in January: “Haringey is a London borough that was an embarrassment to Labour and is now a propaganda gift for the Tories. It is the worst-performing local authority in the capital and the fourth worst in the country. It is relatively poor, but not as poor as neighbouring Tower Hamlets, Hackney and Newham – all of whose school systems outperform its own.”
The panel, also made up of Sir William Atkinson, Graham Badman, Dame Anna Hassan and Sir Jim Rose met for the first time on Monday 16th April.
Haringey Council leader Cllr Claire Kober said “Our schools have achieved significant improvements across all age groups over the past decade, with last summer’s GCSE and ‘A’ Level results the best ever. Although welcome, the pace of change still leaves us frustratingly behind the national average in some areas.”
“Despite the challenges we face in delivering education in Haringey we must drive up attainment so that our children succeed in school and in their adult lives. To make this happen, we need to up our game.”
Billy Hole, a Haringey parent said: “I am surprised and disappointed that this isn’t being done already – it seems to be the exception not the rule. It all seems rather reactive as usual. Though at least aiming to be ‘outstanding for all’ is an improvement on just below the national average or improving rapidly from a low starting position which seems to be the usual mediocre aspirations of the area.”
Asher Jacobsberg, a parent and co-founder of the education based social enterprise website involver.org.uk said: “Haringey needs to put forward a robust, coherent strategy for community education and I hope the Commission helps with that. My worry is that until the Commission reports the Council may feel it cannot really pursue the changes that need to be made.”
“Having visited many primary schools in Haringey as a trainer and looking for a place for my daughter in Tottenham I have not been to one that I would have would have concerns about sending her to. The danger I see is the narrowing of the debate around education to ‘floor targets’ and attainment. What this means is that children at the bottom get forgotten about as schools focus on the children who are ‘borderline’ to achieve the stats the school is rated on. It encourages schools to prepare pupils for tests, not the real world. This is a problem nationally not just for Haringey.”
Greg Sanderson also founder of involver.org said the ‘Outstanding for All’ Commission should “refocus attention on the needs of students. They shouldn’t be seen as the ‘output’s or data points in this discussion, but should be central to it.”
“We’d urge the Review to place pupils’ views at the heart of this discussion and steer clear of political point-scoring.”
“There are some great schools in the Borough, and Haringey has lots to be proud of. But we have to be honest; there are plenty of schools with their challenges. We hope that the review helps us all to have a clearer idea of what these challenges are, and how best to overcome them.”
Sir William Atkinson said that a Chair for the panel had yet to be elected.