Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Barnet's First Class Schools
This evening I attended the Education Scrutiny Committee. At this session of the Committee we looked at the outcome of a report of OFSTED inspections across Barnet and in particular at four schools in the Barnet. This highlighted to me the excellent schools we have in Barnet and the hard work and effort that our teachers and school staff put in to making sure that children educated in Barnet can have the best start in life.
This adds to the recently published OFSTED Joint Area Review of Barnet’s Children’s Services. The report which was published on 10 October announced that - in Barnet’s 4 nursery schools, 89 primary schools, 19 secondary schools, 4 special schools and 3 pupil referral units – educational standards are above the national average and outcomes for most children are rated as good. This has been because of the combined work of the staff in our “local schools and services that have helped children to enjoy their educational and recreational activities.” “The Council has also helped by taking a strong lead in bringing about improvements in the performance of its schools over a short period of time.”
The reports tonight also highlighted that of the Barnet schools inspected by OFSTED in the 2005/06 academic year, 89% of schools in Barnet were rated as outstanding or good. This compares to the national average of 57%.
I would particularly like to congratulate the two schools we heard to from tonight, Colindale Primary School and St Catherine’s Roman Catholic School who were able to highlight the excellent work that our schools do in partnership with Barnet Council.
While attendance in primary schools needs to be improved in Barnet, strategies have already started to work to improve this including the idea of Barnet Bears who can't bear to miss school (hence the picture). There are also many interesting teaching techniques which the schools are using to make education fun and helping the pupils to learn.
What did strike me is that one of Barnet’s outstanding schools is The Annunciation Roman Catholic Infant School in Burnt Oak. This Roman Catholic school has a requirement that all its pupils are catholic. At this time when there appears to be a growing view that this should not happen but that religious-based schools should be required to accept a proportion of pupils I believe that this shows that religious-based schools are successful for a reason. Schools are helped to be successful when all pupils have a common and shared ethos. Just like parents can choose to send their children to single sex schools I believe parents should be allowed to choose to send their children to single religious-based schools, which are shown to be proven to help the children taught there.
I am therefore pleased to have spent an evening hearing about the success of education in Barnet.