Call for city’s struggling schools to get extra funds

July 22, 2011 1 Comment »
Call for city’s struggling schools to get extra funds

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.

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One Comment

  1. Gwilym Owen July 26, 2011 at 3:50 pm - Reply

    I thought that's exactly what the council was trying to do by merging Rumney High School with Llanrumney High School? Seems a bit hypocritical for Labour councillors to be campaigning against what seems to be a genuine attempt to improve two of the schools singled out in this very article as needing help, whilst at the same time criticising the council for 'not having enough ambition and leadership' and saying that 'learning in an atmosphere where the paint is not peeling off and the tiles are not falling down can only be inspirational'.

    A new merged school would address both of these problems, so why aren't the Labour councillors getting behind the council instead of seemingly trying to block its progress and score political points…?

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