Good schools and a great start for all our children

Bradford District faces some big challenges and it will take the energy, efforts and resources of us all – the Council and public services, local people, communities and businesses – to meet them. None of us have all the answers but we all need to think about what we can contribute to creating the kind of place we want to live in because we can achieve far more working together than we ever can alone.

We believe that every child in the Bradford District should have the opportunity to realise their full potential and that working together with determination, purpose and ambition we can achieve this.
Improving educational attainment and making sure that all our children go to a good school and have a great start in life are among the biggest and most important challenges that we all face. It is crucial to the future success of our young people and of the district.

Good schools for all children

In the past, improvement in education hasn’t gone far enough, fast enough. Things have to change. We know we have to get better, there are no excuses. Urgent and sustained action is needed to drive up educational results.

That’s why a year ago we asked independent expert Professor David Woods to review efforts to improve educational attainment. As we put his recommendations into practice we are more determined than ever to make sure that all our children go to good schools and get the great start in life they deserve.

The Council is challenging schools to deliver urgent improvements with a particular focus on writing, reading and numeracy.

We are working to ensure that schools are well equipped and supported to drive up their standards and that success is shared across the district.

The Council has invested in school improvement, developing school leadership and supporting school governors to lead improvement.

To meet the challenges we face we need to:

  • Increase the numbers of children who start school ready to learn 
  • Take action to go further and faster in improving schools and raising levels of achievement across all stages of education 
  • Raise the attainment of underperforming groups 
  • Prepare young people leaving school for life and for work 
  • Work with schools to recruit the very best teachers and leaders

We have to work together.

Like all councils, Bradford has to cut spending and in the future we’ll have a lot less money than we’ve all been used to.

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We can only make the changes needed to give all children a good school and a great start if the Council and other public services work together with pupils, parents, communities, business and the voluntary sector to change the way things are done.

We all need to be ambitious to deliver the improvements in education that our children deserve. We want all our schools to be good by 2018.

Achieving those improvements is a joint effort and responsibility with everyone involved having their part to play. The Council can offer a range of support and help to families, children and schools but we can’t deliver the change we need on our own.

Improving schools is a team effort and accountability is shared between schools, Bradford Schools Partnership and the Council but parents and families, local communities and businesses and the Government all have their part to play.

Together we all have to take responsibility to improve schools and standards. It’s only by working together that we can make the most of all the resources we have to create the best chance of success for all our children and young people.
So as well as our offer we have to strike a new deal with parents, schools, organisations and communities and ask what they can do to play their part and help?

That’s why we are proposing a Bradford Education Covenant that outlines the part the Council will play and what others need to do.

Working together with parents

The Council will:

  • Keep education as a top priority and work together with schools, children and young people, families, businesses and communities to ensure good schools for all our children as we pursue our ambition of making sure all our schools are good by 2018. 
  • Keep playing an important role in setting priorities, supporting and challenging schools, helping them work together to improve and setting out a shared vision for the future. 
  • Build a shared vision for education together with schools and parents, not impose it from the top. 
  • Support families and children through early years – helping to make sure those children are ready for school and can do their best at school from day one. This will include learning from initiatives like Better Start Bradford so that all parents can benefit. 
  • Continue to build childcare and early education places – research has shown that good quality early years care can: 
    • Improve children’s development – for example their communication skills 
    • Help them learn to socialise with other children and make friends 
    • Help them begin to get ready to go to school 
    • Give them access to new activities and exciting places to play
  • Continue to support and challenge schools and hold them to account. 
  • Keep investing in and commissioning school improvement, developing school leadership and supporting school governors to lead improvements. 
  • Invest in attracting, developing and keeping the best school leaders, teachers and classroom assistants. We already have some outstanding leaders and teachers and we’ve set aside £660,000 to do more. 
  • Work proactively with the Regional Schools Commissioner to ensure that the district attracts high quality sponsors for academies. Government policy is to increase the number of academies. 
  • Continue to take quick and robust action to deal with issues which might be preventing a school from making progress in providing quality education for its pupils. 
  • Work with Government to ensure the district has enough school places in the right areas. 
  • Support all councillors to act as champions of children, parents and learning. 
  • Provide real opportunities for skills development and jobs when young people leave school, working closely with the business community, the University and colleges.

Parents getting involved in their children’s’ education is critical to school improvement and has a significant effect on educational achievement and continues to do so through adolescence and adulthood.

Students’ expectations are another big factor in how well they do at school and parents play a massive part in shaping their children’s expectations, aspirations and attitudes to education.

We are asking all parents to work together with us and with their schools to play their part.

A child’s first teachers are its parents, its first school is its home and high involvement of parents in their child’s education leads to better exam results and a better future for their child.

Children only spend about 15% of their waking lives in school so what they do outside is just as important to their future as what they do in it.

We are asking all parents to work together with us to:

  • Get their child a nursery place – 15 hours a week of provision is free and it can make a big difference to development. 
  • Get involved in their children’s education, encouraging and celebrating their learning. 
  • Make learning fun at home – read, count and play every day with young children. 
  • Make sure your child attends school, is there on time and isn’t absent without the school’s authorisation. 
  • Support your child to get their homework in on time. 
  • Support your child to get involved in out of school activity.

Working together with children and young people

The Council will do all it can to ensure that children and young people are able to realise their full potential, by:

  • Working with all schools to make sure that children and young people go to good schools where they are safe and can achieve their full potential. 
  • Provide real opportunities to access learning, skills and jobs opportunities when you leave school – working closely with businesses and other employers, the University and colleges. 
  • Provide students with chances to benefit from enriched cultural learning by maximising the district’s unique local learning opportunities and facilities - for example, with the National Media Museum and City of Film. This will assist in strengthening the routes into apprenticeships, vocational training and academic learning, provide inspiration to our young people and stimulate creativity.

We are asking all children and young people to work together with us to:

  • Make the most of opportunities for learning at home and outside school. 
  • Value education and take responsibility for your own education, ask questions, take notes in class and get your work in on time, build your skills, discover your talents – it’s about your life, your future, and your choices.

Children and young people need to do this because motivated and responsible pupils have a better chance of achieving success.

Working together with schools

The Council will continue to support and challenge schools to improve by:

  • Working closely with individual schools and the Bradford Schools Partnerships to promote positive initiatives on school improvement and share best practice. 
  • Continuing to learn from independent experts, like Professor David Woods, who have a track record of raising education attainment in other areas, so that we can share best practice with schools. 
  • Promoting Bradford District as an attractive career choice for the best teachers and school leaders by publicising the training, support and career routes on offer as well promoting school improvement and the resurgence of the district. 
  • Making sure schools are at the heart of our strategy for school-led improvement. We will continue to develop partnerships where schools challenge and support each other to improve. 
  • Taking quick and robust action to deal with performance, governance and other issues which might be impeding the progress of a school in providing quality education for its pupils. 
  • Continuing to do our upmost to make sure schools are well equipped and supported to drive up their standards. 
  • Celebrating and sharing success across the district.

Increasingly, schools themselves are at the heart of driving school improvement and in future we might see schools doing more to lead and deliver school improvement with the Council doing less directly.

We are asking all schools to work together with us and:

  • Work in partnership, recognising that all types of school are part of a wider education system, have common goals and challenges and need to share solutions and innovative practice to raise education attainment. 
  • Be active in the district’s networks of schools, assist each other to challenge and address failure and support the lowest performing schools to learn from the highest performers. 
  • Share resources and expertise to invest in teaching, learning and facilities. 
  • Take quick and robust action to deal with performance, governance, attendance and any other issues in your school to provide the very best education experience and outcomes for your pupils. 
  • Support students to identify future careers opportunities.

All our schools need to do this to help us achieve our shared ambition of making sure every school is good by 2018.

Working together with business and employers

We aim to produce confident and skilled students who progress into good jobs and careers after school so we have to ensure that they have routes into employment and higher education.

We are working with partners to help people into employment through Get Bradford Working, the biggest local employment and skills programme of its kind. The Council will also:

  • Continue to play a key leadership role to bring schools and businesses together to develop new ways of providing young people with skills and knowledge that supports employment now and in the future. 
  • Continue working with businesses and schools to deliver the innovative Industrial Centres of Excellence, each covering a different economic sector, linking schools to you and your needs as an employer. 
  • Engage with businesses, schools, colleges and the University to try and ensure young people leaving education are work ready and have the skills businesses need. 
  • Support businesses to get the right young person, with the right skills development framework and the right training provider, through our Apprenticeships Hub, part of Get Bradford Working. 
  • Support your business to offer quality work placements through our work Xperience team.

We’ll keep working hard to help prepare young people for work but with far less public money we will have to focus resources where they make most difference and work hard to secure money from regional and European initiatives.

Businesses and other employers can also play a significant part in delivering good schools and a great start for our children and young people and helping them to achieve their potential.

We are asking businesses and other employers to work together with us by:

  • Supporting and getting involved with an Industrial Centre of Excellence or Bradford Pathways 
  • Provide meaningful work placements to your local schools and be an active partner in educating young people about potential careers. 
  • Provide apprenticeships for local young people. 
  • Encourage your staff to become school governors.

Businesses need to do this because good education and good skills mean greater growth. In engineering alone the UK needs 1.82 million workers with relevant skills by 2022.

Working together with our communities

The old adage that it “takes a village to raise a child” still holds true.

Everyone, whether they are parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbours or local firms and employers can make a positive contribution to the growth and development of young people.

Securing a successful future for all of us depends on securing a successful future for the young people of the district.

People right across the district are playing their part in providing sporting, youth and pre-school activities, many giving up their free time to do so. Others are using their skills to help run our schools for example, by becoming school governors.

Without these efforts we cannot achieve our goals, so we are asking everyone to play their part in giving all our children a good school and a great start in life.

We are asking everyone in every community and neighbourhood across the district to play their part in making a positive contribution to the growth, development and wellbeing of young people. This could mean getting involved as a volunteer reader, helping with out of school activities like sport or just keeping an eye out for the wellbeing of young children and young people.

We need our communities to do this because everyone shares in the social and economic benefits of improving education and everyone can play a part in helping to achieve it.

Working together with the Government

The Government sets the policies and allocates resources and powers to schools and local authorities.

The Council will:

  • Work with Government to make sure we have enough school places. As well as seeking more Government funding this might mean reviewing the way sixth forms are provided to help free up spaces and make the most of every place we have. 
  • Be proactive in seeking out high quality academy sponsors to attract to the district. Government policy is to increase the numbers of academies. 
  • Continue to offer support and partnership working to academies and Free Schools, which are not directly accountable to the Council. We have a responsibility to all the district’s children to make sure we are there to help, support and to challenge all schools.

We are asking the Government to work together with us and:

  • Provide the funding for the district to have enough places for all our children. 
  • Provide funding and support to help increase education achievement in the district, for example, by investing in a local programme to drive rapid and sustainable improvements. 
  • Support us to attract outstanding academy chains to the district. 
  • Trust local education partners and devolve more powers to local authorities to tackle failing schools and hold academies to account.

We need government to do this because we have one of the fastest growing populations of young people in the country, we will need extra places equivalent to two new secondary schools by 2018 and we need rapid improvements if all our schools are going to be good.

What do you think?

The Council is working closely together with schools, parents, children and young people, communities and public and private sector partners to find ways of getting the results we all want to see with a lot less money than we have been used to.

Some of our plans and ideas to provide all our children with a good school and a great start have been presented above.

Together, they form part of a Bradford Education Covenant which outlines the Council’s pledge to take action on education, along with what it is asking of others to ensure our young people get the best possible start in life.

We want to know what you think of those plans. Do you have any other ideas about how we can provide a good school and a great start in life for all our children and young people with much less money?

Is there anything more that you think public services, parents, communities or business and government could do? Is there anything you can do to help and play your part in a new deal for the district?

Tell us what you think about any of the subjects above

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