Major summit aims to lift Leeds school standards

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EDUCATION EXPERTS from around the country are to help 30 pathfinder schools in Yorkshire to kickstart a massive improvement programme which is being launched in Leeds next month.

The City Council is playing a leading role in a scheme involving all 15 education authorities in the region aimed at getting Yorkshire schools off the bottom of national league tables.

The first stage of the project will see extra support be given to 15 primaries and 15 secondary schools which are improving but do not yet deliver a good standard of education.

The idea is to support each school’s improvement work and use lessons learned from this as part of a much bigger Yorkshire-wide school programme.

It will be launched with a Yorkshire and Humber Education Summit in Leeds, on February 11. Town hall bosses, led by Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for children’s services Coun Judith Blake are also looking to use data from Ofsted to help identify areas of underperformance in schools around the region. Yorkshire councils have employed three leading education experts, Prof Mel Ainscow, Prof Dennis Mongan and Margaret Woodhouse to drive the improvement plan. Prof Ainscow was the Government’s chief adviser for the Greater Manchester Challenge, a £50 million initiative between 2007 and 2011 to raise school standards. Local councils hope to be able to replicate the success of this programme with a Yorkshire-wide scheme but it will not have any large-scale Government funding.

Prof Ainscow said the project was now looking for schools “where there was reason to believe that they can make rapid improvement towards an Ofsted grading of good or outstanding.”

Coun Blake said: “The aim of the programme is to make Yorkshire’s school system world-class.”

Faye Clayton from Thorpe Primary School takes part in the 'I Am' arts project by creating her shoebox. Picture Scott Merrylees.

Leeds's Thorpe Primary School pupils explore identity through art