New teaching hub opening in Leeds plans to reverse shocking trend which sees 40 per cent of city's students still behind by time they sit GCSEs

From babies to budding mathematicians, an academy trust based in Leeds predicts that within ten years it can reverse a trend that currently sees 40 per cent of the city's children still under-achieving by the time they do their GCSEs.

Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 4:45 am

In September this year, a new Teaching School Hub for Leeds will open and is set to provide every teacher and school leader,at around 250 schools in the city and neighbouring areas, with professional development and play a key role in building up trainee teachers as they enter the job.

It is going to be based at the GORSE Academy Trust's Morley Academy which has been selected to lead the Teaching School Hub by the Department for Education.

Leaders at GORSE will focus on three key areas - teacher training and building on its current school-centred provision (SCITT) that is rated outstanding by Ofsted; progression of middle and senior leadership training with the National Professional Qualification and an early years framework, which is set to address inequalities in education that Leeds has compared to other parts of the country.

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Sir John Townsley, chief executive of the GORSE Academies Trust.
Sir John Townsley, chief executive of the GORSE Academies Trust.

It is said that by the time they are five years-old some children in Leeds are "significantly behind" peers nationally and that 40 per cent of them won't have caught up by the time they take their GCSEs some ten years later.

Sir John Townsley, the chief executive of GORSE, told the Yorkshire Evening Post that they are working on a ten year strategy that will have a "huge impact" on what it means to be a child in Leeds.

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"In our city, by the time children are five, they are already significantly behind their peers nationally and we want to bring about very significant change in that area. The crucial part is what happens with children before they start school. When they start school they are already failing and behind where they should be in terms of age related expectation. Evidence tells us they are already behind but the quality of early years and foundation stage experiences is not strong enough to significantly accelerate their learning."

There used to be 800 teaching hubs across the country but the government has decided to replace them with 78 new teaching school hubs that cover bigger geographical areas - of which the hub at Morley will be one.

It comes as GORSE also reveals it is opening a Leeds Mathematics School in two years, in a joint venture between The GORSE Academies Trust and University of Leeds.

Leeds Mathematics School will educate 205 16-19 year olds, who will each study A Levels in further mathematics and mathematics, alongside a range of other subjects including physics, chemistry and computer science.

The project, set to open in September 2023, will act as a beacon of excellence for the Leeds city region and has already been picked up by major employers in West Yorkshire. Working with GORSE and the communities its schools work in, the idea is that pupils of all backgrounds have an opportunity to study maths at the highest level and in particular primary school children with outreach programmes for younger pupils.

Sir John added: "Our plan is to have Leeds as the school identified as the European city of excellence of maths by 2030 and we think we can with the partnerships. The university will be supporting the maths school through use of its own top academics and academics who are among the best in the world - and they will be working with children in our city.

"We are determined to find out where children are, including those from less advantaged backgrounds and groups, and first of all we want to make sure they all have support in place to feel confident in maths and enjoy it."