30% of Luton’s children go to underperforming schools


Education bosses say the number of pupils in Luton attending a school rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted is not high enough.

And it could be the end of 2020 before there is a noticeable upturn, once underperforming schools have been inspected again.

Only seven in every ten of the town’s children go to schools described as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted.

During 2017-18, it was up to 86.2 per cent, according to a report to the borough council’s children service’s review group.

But this dropped to 77 per cent by April 2018, and fell further to 70.6 per cent by this summer.

“The percentage of children attending a school which had been graded as ‘requires improvement’ has seen an increase to 29.4 per cent,” said the report.

“The percentage of children in Luton attending a primary school rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ was 72 per cent,” it added.

“This is 16.8 per cent behind the national figure. Luton is ranked 150th nationally, and 11th in the East of England.”

Although no school in Luton has been judged inadequate since January 2015, 18 schools are deemed not up to standard.

The council’s service director education John Wrigglesworth said: “We are hugely ambitious for our children in Luton.

“And overall, at the moment, standards are not where we want them to be.

“We have got the best group of head teachers in the town at any of the times I have been in Luton.

“But it’s very hard in our schools. We’ve got huge churn in our schools again.

“That’s with very large numbers of pupils coming in from Europe with very low levels of English,” he added.

“We had 57 Romanian children arrive in Luton schools within a month recently.

“They have to go to the schools where there are spaces.”

The council’s senior school improvement adviser Caroline Dawes told the group about the help available to schools which require improvement.

“Many of those schools have got new head teachers, many of those have got school improvement groups led by the local authority,” she explained.

“And many, if not all of those primary schools, are doing the spotlight on standards programme.

“So, for every ‘requires improvement’ school, there’s a package of support around them.

“But it’s the schools which need to improve themselves,” she said. “Head teachers improve schools. The local authority makes sure schools improve.”

“All of these ‘requires improvement’ schools will be inspected by the end of 2020.

“So I’m hoping, by the end of 2020, we can come back with a bumper year of improvement.

“There is little difference, if any, between academies, free schools and maintained schools in terms of Ofsted performance.

“It’s still not good enough. Standards are not good enough. All of our schools are very ambitious to raise our standards even further.”

The council’s executive asked the group to review the falling standards highlighted in Ofsted reports for free schools and academies in the town.

One step to be considered is whether to set up a task and finish group to focus specifically on this issue.