Education report slammed as ‘superficial’ (but its author is left ‘fuming mad’)

Val Letheren
Val Letheren

Bucks County Council’s report into narrowing the gap of attainment in schools has been criticised as a ‘complete farce’ and ‘superficial’.

Bucks has some of the highest performing schools in the UK but also one of the widest attainment gaps between children eligible for free school meals - the Pupil Premium - and their wealthier classmates.

A county council report into how the gap can be narrowed was put together and included 12 recommendations.

But secretary of Wycombe Labour Mark Ferris has written to Val Letheren, chairman of the education, skills and children’s services select committee, to slam the report as ‘superficial’.

Mr Ferris said: “The report doesn’t even analyse the data. For example, to investigate if the gap is widening, whether it is worse in some areas or schools than others or how it compares with other counties.

“Nor does the report explore possible causes of the Bucks gap.

“Bucks County Council seem incapable of carrying out an evidence-based inquiry.”

Mrs Letheren told the Bucks Herald she was ‘fuming mad’ to read the letter, began writing a response but decided not to send it.

She said: “I don’t think they deserve a message as they will just pick the whole thing to bits. I feel it will only give them ammunition.

“I was so cross. They think they are the only party that cater for the poor and needy but they’re not. They should read the report properly.”

Mrs Letheren said the overall aim of the report has been successful in raising the profile of the Pupil Premium and emphasised that the report was compiled by a mixed-party select committee.

Recommendations - welcomed by cabinet members - included improving literacy, setting up ‘learning development centres’ and engaging with parents to encourage their children to make improvements.