Call to publicise schools needing Council help

 

Schools getting ‘priority support’ from the council should be revealed to the public, a council worker has recommended.

 

Di Mitchell, head of inclusion and achievement at Bournemouth Borough Council, told a panel on Monday that the Government wants local authorities to intervene more when schools need help meeting national targets and called for an annual “above the line” report.

 

Until now, similar reports were presented to a council panel four times a year but the public and press have been excluded.

 

According to Ms Mitchell, much of this information was available to the public anyway and should in future be freely discussed – but with an emphasis on progress.

 

Her suggestion comes after the Bournemouth Echo newspaper on Friday, January 25 published details of 11 schools being helped by the council before they “start seriously failing” their pupils.

 

 “It would be better to make public reports of improvement so people can see there is improvement,” Ms Mitchell said, “rather than like last Friday’s report.”

 

Hugh Waller, representing Church of England schools at Monday’s meeting, was sceptical. “Speaking as an ex-head teacher, I would now feel reluctant to come to the local authority [for help] because it is going to be in the public domain.”

 

However, councillor Michael Weinhonig suggested reports should be given to the panel or public not once or four times a year, but as and when available. He drew attention to the infamous plight of Townsend Primary which is in special measures and looks set to close: “we need to be a little more proactive and be seen to be looking to give support rather than closing down schools.”

 

Executive director of children’s services Jane Portman, got the panel’s permission to hold any decisions until local head teachers were consulted.

 

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