Manchester City Council

Good or Outstanding

The City's Strategic Education Partnership met yesterday. Included on the agenda was an excitingly titled report, School Improvement and Outcomes. At the heart of this is a good news story for which the city's schools should take the credit though they would be the first to recognise there is much more still to do. Notwithstanding the demographic challenges our schools face, 79.8% of them are now judged to be good or better against a national average of 77%. Of the twelve Ofsted inspections that have taken place since the start of the school year, eleven of the schools were judged to be good or better, that's over 90%.

Looking at school absenteeism where we used to have one of the worst records in the country, absences from school in both the primary and secondary sector are now below the national average. In terms of outcomes, key stage two is now performing at the national average for the second year running, and at key stage four we are just behind though the gap is narrowing year by year.

Of course there is no room for complacency and the national average is not where we want to be - we want to be well above the national average. The school improvement partnership brings together the Manchester Schools' Alliance, the local authority, and HM's Inspectors of Schools to target schools for improvement and to build the capacity for further improvement. A key element of this is peer support, schools working with schools, and with the Manchester Teaching Schools we now have a major new tool to help our schools continue their upward trajectory.

Changing tack, on Monday I spent the day in the wonderful city of Leeds, first for the Core Cities Cabinet and then for the first meeting of Transport for the North. It's task is to develop the long-term development programme and secure the funding for the transport investment the North needs across all modes to underpin a step change in our economic performance. It builds on the One North work produced by the five Combined Authorities in and published last August, and is an unprecedented partnership between Councils, the Department for Transport, HS2, Network Rail and the Highways Agency. That in itself is incredibly powerful but if we can continue to grow the notion of the North speaking with one voice, particularly in the area of transport and other infrastructure, it's a voice that will be impossible to ignore.

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The blog of the leader of Manchester City Council, Councillor Richard Leese.

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