Extra funding should be directed at the worst performing schools in the southern half of Cardiff, councillors urged last night.
A new approach to how school funds are dispersed is needed, they said, to target children from the capital’s poorer areas.
The proposal was raised at a full council meeting yesterday THU in which the future of education in Cardiff was debated at length.
It comes after an Estyn report last month found education standards in Cardiff’s schools are only “adequate”.
Councillors unanimously agreed this was not “good enough” and said lifting the performance of schools must now be the authority’s top priority.
It also comes after the Echo yesterday reported on the vast gulf in the GCSE results of the capital’s high schools.
Figures obtained by the Conservative group showed almost all 15-year-old pupils at the city’s best-performing schools achieved five A*-G grades in last summer’s exams.
While at other schools – including Willows High School, Rumney High School, Llanrumney High School and Glyn Derw High School – the pass rate was around three-quarters or less.
Councillor Freda Salway, the city’s education boss, told councillors a “partnership agreement” had been recently struck with the Welsh Government to give additional support to some schools.
She did not say which schools would be targeted but said more details would be announced shortly.
Coun Salway also said an “action plan” to improve standards at Key Stage 4 (GCSE) would be drawn up by August 12 to show how the council would address the Estyn inspector’s recommendations.
The council’s finance boss, Coun Mark Stephens, said the authority was “chronically underfunded” by the Welsh Government.
But Canton’s Labour councillor Richard Cook questioned whether the cash was spent in the right parts of the city.
“I would argue that [the council] could be more innovative. The money could be spent on some of the areas that are not as good as in the north of the city,” he said.
“Money may not improve the standards of schools initially, but clearly learning in an atmosphere where the paint is not peeling off and the tiles are not falling down can only be inspirational.”
Tory councillor Diane Rees said the council must tackle the “shocking” achievement rates of schools in the “southern half” of the city compared to those in the leafy suburbs.
Leader of the Conservative group, Coun David Walker, also called for under-performing schools to receive extra resources and said school results should be made freely available to parents and pupils.
Labour councillor Cerys Furlong said the Estyn report should act as a “huge wake-up call” for the authority.
“Our children should have the best access to education, no matter where they live in the city,” she said.
“What it requires is a level of ambition and leadership that has been sadly lacking in this council. It’s not acceptable anymore to have a huge gap between our schools.”
Coun Neil McEvoy, a former school teacher, called for Estyn to be scrapped and replaced by a board of teachers who would mentor, look at standards and produce resources.
“There is far too much bureaucracy – teachers are feeling strangled,” the Plaid Cymru councillor said.