Labour Calls for Action following Ofsted “Failing Education System” Calls

Labour is calling for action to resolve Swindon’s failing education system, following the Regional Director for Ofsted sending an open letter to Swindon Council criticising them for not recognising the problems in its local education provision.

The letter was sent on Friday 11th November to Swindon Council, the town’s two Conservative MPs and other local education stakeholders.

Bradley Simmons, Ofsted’s Regional Director, expresses his concerns in the letter about Swindon’s declining local education provision with less than 50% of Swindon secondary school students now being taught in “good” schools.

He also highlights:

  • That phonics outcomes for Swindon’s six year olds are in the bottom 10 authorities nationally
  • Swindon’s 7 year olds are the joint lowest performers in reading in the South-West
  • At Key Stage 2, Swindon’s outcomes are amongst the lowest in the country with only 44% reaching expected standards in reading, writing and Maths
  • And that pupils at Key Stage 4 are below the national average in all areas

Labour Shadow Lead for Education, Cllr Carol Shelley, said:

“This letter is the most damning we have seen on the performance of Swindon’s education in 15 years.  Both the Conservative Administration on Swindon Council and the Conservative Government in Westminster should be taking full responsibility for the problems in our education and not passing the buck.

What has particularly concerned me is the fact that Ofsted’s Regional Director felt he had to make his letter public to make parents in Swindon aware of the scale of the problem. He states he wrote to the Council three times voicing concerns about Swindon’s education system and the council ignored these calls, forcing him to go public on his views. In the interests of transparency I shall be asking him to share these letters with parents too.

The real problem, as I see it, is that the Conservative Admiration in their response, does not agree more needs to be done to improve our local education provision or acknowledge the scale of the problem.   Given, as Mr Simmons makes clear, that less than 50% of our secondary school pupils attend good or better schools, how can the Council believe there is not a problem?

The Council should in my opinion acknowledge that our education provision is not working as well as it should be and it should be seeking additional funding from the Tory government to work with schools to rebuild our failing local education system.  Swindon continues to have one of the lowest funding levels for education in the country.

The fact Swindon’s education system has declined over the last 6 years also tells us that the Government’s Academies-for-all education system has also failed Swindon and I would like to see Swindon’s two MPs feeding through Swindon’s education failures  to Justine Greening, the Education Secretary and demanding action.

The Council Leader, David Renard, says that the Ofsted Director’s letter to teacher will be demotivating to teachers. However this letter was not about attacking our town’s very hardworking teachers, instead it was about giving a reality check to our leaders of Swindon’s education system.”