As a former Headteacher, I know how important good schools and a quality education matters to parents.
So, it is always good to be able to give parents in Hounslow some good news. In this column, I have good news for parents for primary and secondary school children.
Firstly, 83% per cent of parents had got their first choice primary school, well above the London average. 94% of parents got one of their top three choices.
Secondly, our secondary schools are performing better than ever. Every single one is now graded as either ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by the schools inspector Ofsted.
This news also demonstrates we are keeping our promises on our pledges. And schools isn’t the only area where we have made some excellent progress. Our other four pledges are also being kept.
The council adopted these pledges in 2010, to reflect our priorities for improving the borough, and cover a range of issues that are important to local people.
The pledges are:
1. Action on crime with 100 uniformed officers on the street and CCTV in crime hotspots
2. Extra cash for local schools to improve standards and give parents a better choice
3. Create a new partnership with local businesses and housing associations to create jobs and build 2,500 affordable homes to rent or buy
4. a 24/7 team of Grimebusters to tackle graffiti, litter and dumped rubbish
5. A fresh war on waste and a council tax cut for all residents
We know people want to feel safe on the borough’s streets, so we have successfully recruited an extra 10 police officers through a match-funding scheme with the Metropolitan Police Authority. We have also given 140 council and Hounslow Homes officers community safety training and new uniforms to provide a visible and helpful presence in your neighbourhoods.
We have also invested an additional £4 million in new reception classes, and increasing early years and special educational needs provision. A-level and GCSE results in August 2011 were our best ever, and we are above average for the number of parents receiving their first choices for primary and secondary school places.
To help boost the local economy in these difficult times, the Hounslow Town Centre Masterplan has been adopted. This sets out what we want the town centre to become, and how, and will help create more than 1,100 jobs in the area over the next five years.
For those struggling to find work now, we are funding training schemes which have helped 95 local people into new jobs and placed 26 apprenticeships with local partners.
The rising population here has led to a shortage of homes for local families. Thanks to our work with developers and partners, there are now well over 1,000 new affordable homes in the borough, and we have funding agreed for more than 1,300 more.
Our new Grimebusters service was set up in April 2011. This lets residents report graffiti, litter and dumped rubbish at any time, and so far has dealt with more than 600 reports. We are pleased to support the Chronicle’s own campaign to clean up the borough. This helps raise the profile of the issue and shows people that we all – the council, residents and businesses – need to work together if we are going to make the Hounslow a more attractive place to live and work.
We have also managed, despite having to find another £18 million savings, to freeze our share of the council tax bill for the sixth year in a row, a record for an outer London borough.
But there is still more to do. We will keep working hard on the issues that matter to you, and deliver on these pledges to help make the borough a place you can be proud of.