A war of words has broken out at Leeds City Council after one of its members claimed the city’s schools are “lagging behind” other areas, and that young learners are being “failed” by Leeds City Council.
In a damning motion set to go before council members tomorrow, Conservative councillor Dan Cohen will claim improvements in reading and writing at key stage two (10-11 year-olds), have been “painfully slow”, and will call for a report into how school attainment can be “urgently improved”.
However, the council’s executive member for learning, skills and employment Coun Jonathan Pryor hit back at Coun Cohen, calling his comments “disparaging” and “belittling”.
The motion, known as a white paper, from Coun Cohen will go before tomorrow’s full Leeds City Council meeting. It will be voted on by members to decide whether or not the council should adopt the position.
It reads: “This council believes that schools, teachers and pupils in Leeds are working hard to improve outcomes, and wishes to congratulate everyone who succeeded in their exams this year.
“However council believes that there is a fundamental lack of ambition from the council at a strategic level that is continuing to fail many young learners.
“At Key Stage 2 the percentage of pupils in Leeds reaching the expected standard in reading, writing and maths has improved, but the pace of change is painfully slow, leaving Leeds still lagging behind national averages.
“Council aiming to be the best in the UK should be looking to exceed, not merely reach, national averages, yet a report card of the administration’s efforts over the last 8 years would surely read “must try harder”.
But Coun Pryor believes progress has been made, and finds Coun Cohen’s comments “frustrating”.
He said: “We all want to see continued improvement in results, last year at GCSE our Progress 8 score improved at a far faster rate than nationally, additionally progress outcomes for disadvantaged pupils and those with an education, health and care plan were better than national.
“Teachers need to be freed up from a stifling curriculum that ties them up in red tape and drives thousands away from the profession. It is disappointing that instead of addressing these issues the Conservatives have chosen to disparage the fantastic achievements of Leeds students.”