‘SIGNIFICANT progress’ in attainment is being celebrated across Barnsley schools after a report found that they were performing above the national average.
The provisional education outcomes report, which was discussed at a cabinet meeting on Wednesday, saw Barnsley rank higher than Rotherham, Doncaster and Sheffield for attainment in GCSE maths and English.
Rachel Dickinson, executive director of people directorate, said that that the outcome is ‘something to celebrate’, with the results also finding that boys in key stage two were outperforming their peers nationally in maths for the first time.
The report said: “The percentage of pupils achieving a strong pass in English language, English literature and maths at key stage four is above national for the very first time since its introduction in 2016/17.
“The positive gap in key stage two mathematics has improved further and boys now outperform their peers nationally.”
Barnsley has 41 schools run by the local authority and 50 academies. In 2010, they ranked 148 out of 150, but this year Barnsley ranked 112 out of 150 in England.
Nick Bowen, executive principal of Horizon Community College, said that the Barnsley Schools Alliance’s partnership approach and monthly meetings with headteachers across the borough had contributed to the outcome of this year’s results.
He said: “When I began eight years ago each year when the end of year results came in we ranked 148 or 149. We’ve made significant improvements and implemented new measures which is reflected in our progress.
“Barnsley was no doubt performing poorly, but now we have something to shout about and be proud. The sector-led improvement partnership with the local authority to drive improvement sees all the heads of secondary schools meet each month and we support and challenge each other so there is no reason why we can’t continue to move further up the table.
“The Barnsley Schools Alliance has been the envy of of authorities across the country and we have had people come and see how we make it work. It’s unique but we don’t take it for granted. We all engage and we can now see the value from the results and we should celebrate this outcome.”
With the number of schools in Barnsley now part of an academy chain, Ms Dickinson insisted the council is still invested in seeing Barnsley schools thrive.
She added: “The local authority has shrunk and expertise now sits in schools and the academy trusts. We want to see Barnsley children progress and we are actively working together to meet the needs of the children.
“There is still a sense of competition between the schools across the borough but we want to assure parents that they don’t have to send their child miles away in order for them to have a good education.
“We are celebrating achievement and our outstanding provision. We accept that the children are working hard and our young people have a desire to achieve and do well. When you see what can be done it drives us on.”
Nicola Smith, head at Meadstead Primary Academy in Royston, told the Chronicle that primary and secondary schools were working together to keep driving improvement.
“There are many more primary schools in Barnsley than there are secondary schools but we are committed to building a strong partnership so that every school in the borough is delivering for the kids,” she said.