Oxford joins Brookes for local schools initiative

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Oxford University’s Department of Education and Oxford Brookes School of Education have joined forces to provide a council-funded program of training for teachers and governors in local schools.

Eleven primary schools around Oxford have joined the initiative, which was launched last Thursday as part of a wider effort by the city council to improve educational attainment, on which they are spending £1.4 million over four years.

The initiative aims to improve literacy and numeracy rates, and will work in schools from some of the city’s most deprived areas, such as Blackbird Leys and Cowley.

City Council leader Bob Price said: “The Council has been deeply concerned for a number of years at the evidence of a growing gap between the attainment of Oxford’s primary and secondary schools and the results obtained elsewhere in the country. In 2010 the city’s schools were in the bottom decile for performance.”

He was ambitious about the prospects of success, stating the council’s aim to “raise attainment by 2016 to ten percent above the national average”.

The scheme will operate in two year-long cycles and will comprise up to 12 training days a year with leaders in the field of education. Ian Menter, Professor of Teacher Education and Director of Professional Programmes at Oxford University, is spearheading the program.

He said: “At the heart of the programme is a commitment to learning through enquiry and to the use of evidence in improving leadership and attainment in the schools.”

He added: “We hope that through the ‘Leadership for Learning’ programme, teachers and governors will be able to tap into a pool of expertise and support each other and that this will help them to develop new leadership strategies.

By working in this way, and building upon many recent positive developments, the quality of teaching in our primary schools should continue to improve.”

The initiative has been undertaken by the City Council despite the fact the County Council in fact bears responsibility for schooling. The County Council’s cabinet member for education, Melinda Tilley, said: “I and the County Council are delighted by the initiative of the City Council to work with schools within their boundary.”

The County Council announced its own initiative, ‘Education Excellence in Oxfordshire’, almost immediately after the announcmenet of the City Council scheme. This additional scheme will join together ten schools to share best practice.