Richmond’s GCSE results fell last summer for the first time in half a decade and Liberal Democrats have criticised the Tory council for cutting the borough’s school improvement team in half since 2010.
Seven out of the borough’s eight secondary schools saw ‘value added’ results (a measure of pupil progress compared with other schools in England) fall and six out of eight saw the % of pupils achieving 5+ A*-C grades (inc English & Maths) fall. Overall the percentage of children at the borough’s schools achieving 5+ A*-C grades (inc English & Maths) fell from 63.2% in 2011 to 62.6% in 2012. This is the first time in 5 years that the borough has seen a fall in results, at a time when results nationally continue to rise.
At the same time, the Conservative cabinet member for schools, Cllr Paul Hodgins, admitted under questioning from Lib Dems at this week’s Council meeting that the borough had cut its school improvement team from 10.5 staff to 5.5 staff since 2010.
There is also concern that the council has pressured secondary schools to focus their time and energies on structural changes over the past two years, such as becoming academies and taking on sixth-forms, rather than focusing on improving pupil achievement.
Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition Cllr Stephen Knight said: “After two years of Conservative education policies fixated on changing structures rather than performance, GCSE results for our borough have started to fall. This matters because the results effect the life chances of real local children who will not get a second chance.
“The Conservatives have cut the number of school improvement advisers in the borough by 50% since taking control of the council, saying the schools can help themselves. At the same time they have pressured our local secondary schools to devote huge amounts of money, time and energy on transforming their legal governance structures to match Tory political dogma.
“The results speak for themselves. We need a new council that invests in actively helping schools to improve results for our young people instead of washing its hands of responsibility for education, as the Tories are doing.”