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Coventry's Education Goes To Top Of Class

Coventry's education service has been given top marks by government inspectors, who have told officers to "be proud of the work you do for Coventry's children."

A team of five inspectors visited the education authority in June this year and spent three weeks closely examining every aspect of its work.

The resulting report has praised the city council for its "able and dedicated officers, well-informed and effective political leadership" and for our "strong civic identity".

The inspectors said they had "rarely seen such good work for children in public care", and praised the “sensible systems that are flexible” for the LEA’s funding.

In conclusion they said that Coventry is "a very good LEA with the potential to become 'highly effective'".

George DugginsCllr George Duggins, cabinet member (Education and Library Service) said:

"This report is full of praise for the work that the education service does to support schools and learning within the city.

“It's wonderful to have that work recognised and to be reassured that we're doing things right. We need to build on the strengths that have been so clearly shown, and make improvements promptly.”

The findings include:

  • Praise for the council's "effective" financial management, which supports school improvement without diverting either resources or energy from the core task of raising achievement.

  • Good use of external funding, and good consultation with schools on spending decisions.

  • The LEA knows its schools well, and works in genuine partnership with them.

  • Headteachers in the city are respected public figures, active in public life, and there is a synergy between corporate aims, education department aims and those of schools.

  • Coventry provides very good data on performance, regarded by headteachers as good or very good, and "better than other LEAs surveyed."

  • Standards have continued to improve, but more work needs to be done.

  • The Support and Advisory Service was praised for providing a good service to schools, being good value for money, and doing some "outstanding" work.

  • Support for school management was found to be very good, early years work is “very good”, as it work with students aged between 14 and 19.

  • Work with the community is, and the partnership the business community was described as "close to unique, with partnerships being fundamental to Coventry's approach."

  • Good strategic management, with headteachers saying that they enjoy a fruitful and challenging partnership with their LEA. The inspectors found that a consensual approach is used.

  • The Special Educational Needs support service was hailed as "one of the best" inspectors had seen.

Insp Gordon Hainsworth, who carried out the inspection into the SEN service, said:

"In Coventry, as a parent of a child with special educational needs, you have a better chance of getting the education that suits your child."

However, the council must increase the number of special needs statements it completes within 18 weeks to meet national levels.

  • The Parental Partnership, which provides a support and advice network for parents of children with special needs was held up as a model of good practice and was rated amongst "the best".

  • Consultation on surplus places should begin this term to continue the programme of rationalisation.

  • There has been a wide expansion of nursery places in the city in line with government targets but at the moment there is only a 78 per cent take up of these places.

  • Levels of unauthorised absence are improving significantly, and the Education Welfare Service offers very good value for money. In addition, the Behavioural Support service is making good progress in reducing exclusions.

  • Support for looked-after children is considered a "real strength" by inspectors – there is an effective database of information and elected members show a real commitment and involvement in this area.

  • Support for ethnic minority children is considered "good in many respects and in many schools, but it is not uniformly good in all schools."

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CWN / Politics / Coventry City Council / 18 Oct 00
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