Standards boost for city schools
MORE than 50 schools are to receive extra support as part of a major new citywide plan to improve children's education and achievements.
The school improvement strategy will see £526,000 of Government funding invested in so-called 'priority schools' across the Potteries this year.
They have been identified for a wide variety of reasons and range from failing schools through to those that only need help with one specific issue.
Triggers for intervention could include below average SATs or GCSE results, poor progress in English and maths, and concerns over children's welfare and safety.
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Stoke-on-Trent City Council will be teaming up with a group of experienced headteachers, the city's two teaching schools, and outstanding teachers to help tailor a package for each priority school.
And although local authority officers will still work directly with the worst schools, most of the support will be delivered by serving teachers from other schools.
They could be loaned out for a day a week to coach staff, develop the skills of heads of departments, or help new headteachers get a better grasp of how to monitor standards in their school.
Andrew Warren, director of the teaching school at Belgrave St Bartholomew's Academy, in Longton, said: "We might be commissioned to work for 10 days in a particular school.
"It's not as simple as saying good schools are going to be supporting bad ones. Schools face different circumstances and have different needs.
"When a school finds itself in difficulties through a poor Ofsted report, you need to react quickly.
"But there also needs to be a proactive approach. One of the issues is there has not been enough support for new headteachers in Stoke-on-Trent.
"You may also have a school where several senior staff are on maternity leave, there is a high percentage of newly qualified teachers, or high staff turnover."
The priority schools have not been named publicly.
But 10 of them – six primaries and four secondaries – are classed by the local authority as 'causing concern'. They include two schools in special measures and one which has been served with a notice to improve by Ofsted.
A further 21 schools need extra help to prevent them falling into the high risk category.
And the other 23 schools in the programme are providing an acceptable standard of education, but could benefit from targeted support.
The new strategy will also promote much more joint working across all the city's 94 schools.
Every school will eventually be expected to be part of a collaboration or partnership.
It could include role shadowing, temporary exchanges of staff, and shared strategies to manage exclusions and attendance issues.
Councillor Alan Dutton, pictured left, cabinet member for education, said: "Our vision is to make lives better by radically improving outcomes for young people in the city."