Wednesday 25 October 2017

Making a mockery of our under-performing schools

Quite often there is accidental humour in our council meetings. Last Thursday, for example, we witnessed the unique (in my experience) thrill that was a portfolio holder for Children and Learning calling in his own minute. O how we laughed. Except that the Conservative councillor proceeded to laud the achievements of his administration with statistics that are quite misleading.

Using council gathered data he proceeded to proclaim that Southend schools are out-performing national averages, and therefore are a resounding success.

However, the statistics are for children educated in Southend, and not for Southend children, and there is an important distinction here.

We have six schools in the borough whose intake is largely from outside of the borough. The four grammar schools and two faith schools skew the statistics.

Of course, I am delighted for all children that receive a first-class education. However, the real numbers show that children in Southend are actually doing a lot worse than the council and its ruling administration would lead you to believe. I am elected to represent Southend’s children, not the sons and daughters of those living in east London or Kent, or other parts of Essex, and I deeply regret that they are not performing so well. This is a serious issue that needs urgent attention.

Instead of the mockery that was the self-congratulating grandstanding of the portfolio holder he should be straining every sinew to see that children residing in Southend are performing as well as the rest of this country of ours.


  1. This is not strictly true......Southend is right to be proud of its Educational achievements; the statistics show that we are out performing other authorities in this area, and these figures are for Primary (ie Southend ) schoolchildren too.
    You are well aware of the great campaign to increase the numbers of Southend pupils attending the local grammar schools.
    The Grammar catchments do cover a larger priority than Southend, it is true, so Canvey and Rayleigh are in them, for example. In the last few years the proportions of out of catchment students was approximately 50%...we await this year's admissions to see if the Southend Primary schools are now sending more pupils to the local selective schools. I don't know about the intake, locally, from the Faith schools, We do need to fill our local secondary school places with as many Southend pupils as possible. I think we can all agree on that. And what is wrong with celebrating a bit of good news in full Council?

    1. It's not just the councillors who present these skewed statistics either - certain staff do too. If primary results are good - and I believe they are - then does this make the Southend pupils secondary performance even worse? Would a subject access request yield a clearer picture for Southend's secondary pupils?

  2. The faith school intake is as wide reaching as the grammars, as they are set along diocesean boundaries, which extend to LB Newham.
    And as the 11+ results were out prior to the council meeting, raw numbers would be able to indicate overall pass rates, which should by disproportionately up, by Helen's and the portfolio holder's assertion.


St Luke's Voice Winter 2018/19 edition