SCHOOL inspectors have said there is a “pressing need” to improve Doncaster Council’s support for schools.
Ofsted inspected local authority’s arrangements for supporting primary and secondary schools because more than half of pupils in the borough attend a school that is inadequate or requires improvement.
The area is in the bottom fifth of local authorities across England in terms of exam results.
Ofsted said children in Doncaster “do not get a good deal” and “deserve better”.
The council said this week it was “making some positive headway” in school support.
Ofsted inspectors met councillors, senior local authority officials, governors and school leaders, looked at the local authority's plans to improve education and analysed exam results.
They concluded that Doncaster Council’s systems for collecting and analysing schools' performance data were not fit for purpose and no formal records were kept of governors’ input.
There was praised for the council’s work to cut pupil exclusions but criticism of its lack of consistency in using its powers to intervene in failing schools.
Nick Hudson, regional Ofsted director, said: “A local authority needs to have a grip on data about how its pupils are doing. That Doncaster's systems for analysing school data are not fit for purpose is a matter for concern.
“Pupils in Doncaster do not get a good deal compared to other children and young people elsewhere in the region or in England.
“More than half of pupils in Doncaster are in schools that are either inadequate or require improvement. They and their parents deserve better.
“We have set forward a clear way by which Doncaster Council can do better for its young people, and give them a better start in life. “
Ofsted says that the local authority must:
- intervene early when schools show signs of failing their pupils by, for example, replacing senior staff and governors.
- improve the way it collects data about pupils' exam results, and use that data properly.
- encourage schools to work together to share how best to improve teaching quality in the area.
- tell the Department for Education promptly if academies are failing.
The council’s director of children’s services, Eleanor Brazil, said the council now had a clear and well understood school improvement strategy but more work needed to be done.
We have put a lot in place to work better with schools and help them improve and that work continues," she said.
Cllr Nuala Fennelly, Cabinet member for children’s services, said she was determined that the council should keep up the pace on helping schools to improve.
“We have achieved a lot in a short space of time and from a relatively low base in terms of adequate support,” she said.
“I am under no illusions that we have some considerable progress to make and we will do.”
The Council is now putting together an action plan to address the areas for improvement and is expecting a re-inspection by Ofsted within a year.