Improvements needed in Calderdale primary education to meet the national standards

Primary education in Calderdale has seen many areas of improvement but there is still ground to be made up in some aspects of their performance.
Primary education in Calderdale has seen many areas of improvement but there is still ground to be made up in some aspects of their performance.

Calderdale’s primary school age children continue to improve but there is still work to be done in some areas where attainment is below the national average figure, a scrutiny board heard.

The council’s Children and Young People’s Scrutiny Board was considering data for 2018-19 and heard there were many areas of improvement but still ground to be made up in some aspects of their performance.

Measures were in place to improve these performances, board members heard.

Of 15 primary schools in Calderdale, both special schools were rated by Ofsted as good or better and of the other 13 nine were rated as good or better, but the overall percentage of those rated that was was lower than the national average, 84 per cent compared to 87 per cent.

At the early years foundation stage Calderdale’s results improved for the fifth consecutive year but are still lower than the national figure and the gap is only being closed slowly and the national comparison has widened where children eligible for free school meals are concerned – closing these gaps is a priority.

But in phonics screening, which tests Year One children’s ability to link sounds with words and images, Calderdale improved to better than national average and disadvantaged pupils in the borough achieved above disadvantaged children nationally, also closing the gap between disavantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils.

At the end of Key Stage 1 results over the last four years show a rapid improvement in all subjects – reading, writing and maths – by Calderdale pupils though some ground still has to be made up on the national mean and closing the fully gap remains a priority, particularly where disadvantaged pupils are concerned.

A sustained improvement is also continuing at Key Stage 2 level, with rapid improvement in writing, improvements in reading and an overall improving progress measure from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 2. Writing is catching up on the national level, whereas Calderdale pupils’ maths is above it.

At Key Stage 2 non-disadvantaged pupils have performed close to national levels over the last three years and in 2018-19 have moved above it, but another priority is closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged and non-disadvantaged pupils.

Calderdale’s SEND K – pupils who need special educational needs support – outcomes are lower than the national average across all primary phase assessments but the gap is being closed in writing and maths, and Calderdale has more SEND K pupils, 17 per cent, than the national average.

Pupils of White British ethnic origin are largely matching national levels by the end of Key Stage 2 with strong improvements in writing testament to the priority put on the subject in the last three years.

Calderdale pupils of Asian Pakistani ethnic origin have improved faster than their counterparts nationally, and the gap between them and their White British peers has also closed faster than nationally.

However high prior attainment pupils in Calderdale are less likely to convert their Key Stage 1 higher results into a Key Stage 2 high in 2019.

Calderdale’s boys, mirroring the case nationally, perform at a lower level than the girls across all assessments and Key Stages, maths being for the boys a relatively stronger performance and at Key Stage 1 higher than the girls in 2019.

Senior School Effectiveness Officer Lesley Bowyer said the statistics were based on provisional data but it gave a quite accurate guide to how Calderdale’s primary school pupils were doing.

Coun Helen Rivron (Lab, Ovenden) was concerned about a gap in attainment before children were reaching school age and Ms Bowyer said research into this was being developed alongside an enabling environment in schools, including trying to engage parents.

Coun Howard Blagbrough (Con, Brighouse) asked if Calderdale’s Pupil Premium was being spent across the borough and was told the effectiveness team looked closely at it and all schools had a duty to publish a premium funding report.

One of the positive things clearly coming out of the report was the rate pupils were progressing at by the end of Key Stage 2, said Coun Anne Collins (Lab, Ovenden).

She was concerned about the effect any cuts to children’s centres, which gave children a grounding before they were aged three, might have.

Coun Amanda Parsons-Hulse (Lib Dem, Warley) wanted to know whether children were healthy, happy and able to learn, and what measures were in place to support parents. Ms Bowyer said a multi-agency approach was used to do this.

Board chair Coun Colin Raistrick (Ind, Hipperholme and Lightcliffe) said it was important to know why, where Calderdale pupils were below the national average, this was the case.