Romford Labour activist Angelina Leatherbarrow today writes in the Havering Daily:
As a mum of two primary school children living in Havering , education standards in our borough are of immense importance when deciding upon future plans for our kids.Most Havering teenagers go to academy schools – We were told this would give them a better chance of success.
Councillor Robert Benham is the Cabinet member for Education , Children and Families in Havering. He is also Deputy Leader of the Council. These positions currently command a combined annual income (Basic plus Special Responsibility Allowance) of £42,460. Unfortunately he has let our youngsters down by ignoring the under achievement which is going on in most Havering secondary schools.
All Havering secondary schools , apart from three , perform less well at GCSE than schools in Redbridge , our neighbouring borough.
Suppose parents want to get a true picture of how an academy is performing before choosing their child’s secondary school ? Going to an academy website will not provide many useful answers. How can it be that academies like Marshalls Park or Hornchurch High School do not publish their full GCSE examination results subject by subject ? How can it be that they only tell you about students who have done extremely well ( Cue Cllr Benham to appear for the annual photo opportunity) , but ignore the majority ? Information about school exam results in Havering is mostly uninformative , misleading and deliberately masks underachievement .
Academy schools are funded by our public money and yet they are unaccountable to the community who pays for them.Cllr Benham should have made himself aware of this downturn in performance and demanded action from the academy trusts. Instead , under his watch , the system has been allowed to muddle along and deteriorate. Parents cannot access accurate and up to date information and are told a lot of woolly generalisations about key performance indicators.
It doesn’t have to be this way. The table below shows how Havering and Redbridge schools compare as at just before the COVID pandemic started. This analysis of students progress from Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 4 is based on Government statistics . A positive figure means students have had “added value” from their school : They have improved more than expected from Key Stage 2. A negative figure means students have made less progress than predicted.
Havering is poor in general , whilst Redbridge is outstanding.
Havering council has been complacent in its acceptance of second best for our youngsters and taken its eye off the ball. Young people’s lives are at stake here and yet public money that is meant to enhance their prospects has been spent without any rigorous oversight. We deserve better.