Labour Group Leader Meet with Ofsted Directors

The Labour Group’s Leader and Spokesperson for Education, Councillors Jim Grant and Carol Shelley, met with Bradley Simmons (Regional Director for Ofsted) and Simon Rowe (Senior HMI) on Wednesday this week to discuss the problems with Swindon’s education system and how it can rebuild.

The Labour Group agreed with Ofsted’s assessment that the Council was too defensive and failing to understand the problems faced in Swindon’s education system.

Ofsted also said that the Council’s 2014 Education Improvement Strategy had the right objectives in it, but needed to be delivered.

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This follows Bradley Simmons, 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 expressed 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.

The Labour Group’s Spokesperson for Education, Councillor Carol Shelley, said:

“We had a really productive meeting earlier this week with Bradly Simmons, Swindon’s Regional Ofsted Director and Simon Rowe, Senior HMI Inspector. In the meeting there was agreement that the failings of Swindon’s education system weren’t to do with the work rate of Swindon’s hardworking teaching staff, but about the lack of direction from Swindon Borough Council and the failure to implement an effective Strategic Plan for Improvement.

We were in agreement that the first thing that needs to happen is an acknowledgement from Swindon’s education leader’s that there is a deepening problem with our local education provision. The next step is to put in place and support a coordinated strategy  across the town to secure improvement,

We talked about other areas of the country like Poole in Dorset, where rapid progress has been made in the quality of education provision. In Swindon there are some examples of good practice that other schools can learn from and a collaborative approach is needed.

I asked the Ofsted Directors what, in their opinion, can to be done to improve the education of children and young people, and they replied that Swindon Council already has a strategy to improve local education provision,  however more determined action needs to be taken to deliver it fully.

The big lesson I took from the meeting is that Swindon Borough Council needs to more robustly challenge schools that are not providing the quality of education our children and young people deserve and parents expect.”