Hartlepool leaders condemn ‘misleading’ Ofsted figures

Councillor Chris Simmons.
Councillor Chris Simmons.

Council bosses in Hartlepool have challenged new Ofsted figures, claiming they are misleading.

The education watchdogs’ Annual Report 2014/15 puts the town in the lowest ten authorities in England for the proportion of students, 47.5%, in good or outstanding secondary schools.

The figures are based on the most recent Ofsted results.

Council education bosses in the town feel the way the report is complied is “grossly unfair” and a “crude” way to judge schools.

The report said in Hartlepool 88% of primary pupils are in a good or outstanding school, a drop of 1%, and, although low, the number for secondary schools had actually risen by 13%.

During the last year Eldon Grove Academy, Springwell School and St Bega’s RC Primary School, have all been rated as outstanding.

Councillor Chris Simmons, chairman of the Children’s Services Committee, said: “The Ofsted data is a very crude and grossly unfair way of judging the performance of Hartlepool schools.

“Firstly, we are one of the smallest local authorities with just five secondary schools, but this data only reflects the performance of three of the secondary schools that have undergone recent inspections. In essence, the figures are totally flawed and skewed.

“It would have been much better if Ofsted had focused on GCSE performance to give a fairer overall picture of school performance.

“For example, in Hartlepool in 2015, 52.6% of secondary school students achieved five or more A*-C GCSE grades, which was just 0.2% below the national average.

“However, when you look at improvement over time, Hartlepool is among the 40 most improved local authority areas in the country as we have seen the figure rise from 37.5% in 2006.”

Sally Robinson, the council’s director of Child and Adult Services, said: “Educational achievement is the highest priority for the council and we continue to commit substantial resources.

“We are fully committed to bringing about further attainment improvement in all of our schools and continue to work closely with schools, governors, parents and children to achieve this.

“There is much to celebrate in the achievement of our schools and parents can be assured that we are fully committed to ensure that every child reaches their full potential.”

The latest initiative launched by Hartlepool Borough Council to further drive up attainment levels in schools is an Education Commission, which was launched recently in the town and involves all of the key organisations working together to address recommendations.