I am the shadow portfolio for Education and Skills and so I monitor what goes on with the county’s 326 schools, and hold the administration to account. Education in the county has been very fragmented with many schools now controlled by Academy groups of variable reliability and quality. We also have two University Technical Colleges for 14- 19 year olds and we have proposals in for two free schools. Much more of the schools budget is now directly paid to schools, which has meant that central services have been cut. NCC no longer provides services to school like the Behaviour Management team. This is resulting in a huge spike in permanent exclusions.
There are concerns about the Academies because they are not accountable to the electors and the tax payers. There are also concerns about some Academy chains in terms of financial regulation and misuse of funds. OFSTED inspections show that Academies and Free schools do not outperform maintained schools
Academies are answerable to the government and do not have to report to NCC. However, NCC remains responsible for ensuring schools are properly run and produce good results. NCC has negotiated with the academies that they will apply the NCC admissions policy and report on achievement and exclusions.
Achievement in the county is below national averages and below statistical neighbours. The gap is highest in Corby. The gap is getting smaller. Exclusions have gone up rather dramatically. NCC pays for complementary education through an Academy chain but also pays private providers to take our children.
Some children with SEND are placed in private schools. Our specials schools are mostly outstanding. There is an inclusion policy so many SEND children are also in the mainstream.
Rates of home educated children are going up. There are over 400 children currently educated at home. There is an issue with children missing from education.
The Connexions Service has provided a really good service to schools over many years but schools are now responsible for their own IAG provision and can choose not to buy in from Connexions. Young People report that school IAG points them to Academic options and not the full range available to them. The work is going out to tender. Effectively privatised.
Issues. School places. We needed 10,000 more Primary over the last three years. Pressure is now on secondary places. 2 Free schools are being developed- Barrack road and Wootton Hall. Underachievement in the county persists. Race to the Top is an American programme taken up by NCC but it is under-funded. White working class boys are being prioritised. This has caused a bit of a storm because it is class that is the issue, not colour. It is working class boys of all ethnicities who need to be targeted. We have issues about the lack of take up for 2 year old places and three year old places. There is not enough provision in the right places.
Childrens Centres under threat – see my blog http://daniellestone.co.uk/blog/
NCC has to save 66 million pound next year and £146m over the next 5 years.
This is going to lead to a slimmer LA with most services outsourced.
We have 925 children and young people in care, an increase of 25% in the last 18 months.