Hillingdon Council is challenging schools to do more to raise standards and attainment for local children.
A report submitted to the council’s monthly cabinet meeting on Thursday February 18 highlighted that a number of schools in Hillingdon need to improve what they do for the borough’s children.
One in five Hillingdon schools are graded as ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ according to Ofsted figures, which is above the national average of 16%.
Cllr David Simmonds, deputy leader of the council and cabinet member for education and children’s services, said: “We have ambitions for schools in Hillingdon to raise their standards and improve the quality of the education they provide.
“Schools have the resources and responsibility to improve teaching and learning in the classroom, and it is a concern that some children in Hillingdon are not doing as well compared to children attending schools in other parts of London despite protected funding and having full control of everything need to improve.
“Education for vulnerable children, including children in care, offers the opportunity to give these children a better start in life and schools need to do more to support them.
“The borough’s GCSE results are particularly disappointing, with grades last year continuing to remain below the London average."
'Lack of ambition'
Conservative-led Hillingdon Council say it is challenging under-performing schools to improve their standards using formal powers of intervention where they apply or escalating concerns to the Regional Schools Commissioner or Secretary of State for Education for Academy or Free schools where local authority powers are limited.
Cllr Simmonds added: “We are deeply disappointed at the lack of ambition within some schools to do better by our children and we are calling on them to make faster progress with their improvements.
“We will not hesitate to take action where we feel this is not happening.”
But Cllr Jan Sweeting, Labour's lead on The Children, Young People and Learning Policy Overview Committee and West Drayton ward councillor, says the Conservatives are masking the real issues by not presenting statistics by each ward in the borough.
She said: “By averaging things out it looks as if the whole area is okay, but there are some really, incredibly deprived areas of our borough.
“Using the joint strategic needs assessment analysis would provide different levels of evidence which the council needs to deliver its services, for example, it shows that West Drayton has 43% of children living in deprivation.
“We have a lot of temporary housing. This means the schools have more of a churn of children.
“So even though the schools are doing their utmost and working extremely hard, some that are supposedly in need of improvement are working extremely hard - but sometimes their hands are tied behind their backs.
'Money should go to most in need'
Cllr Sweeting explained that funding should be 'earmarked' to target need and children's centres, which support youngsters outside of school, should be protected.
She said: “It worries me that the council is considering cutting funding for children's services.
“All of these issues makes for a much more complicated picture than that Conservatives have said, which is basically the schools have the money and it’s up to them to step up and do their thing. It’s a bigger issue.
The Labour ward councillor mirrors Cllr Simmonds worries about GCSE results but added: “Saying lack of ambition in schools is one thing, but I think there’s been a lack of ambition within the council to help them to get better.
“Our child population is increasing as are the children and families that need support. The money should be going to those most in need - quite simple.”