Wycombe Labour today applauded Labour Cllr Robin Stuchbury, the only Councillor on BCC’s Education Select Committee to have read the papers and realise that the gap between the attainment of disadvantaged pupils and their peers is getting worse – a lot worse.
Cllr Stuchbury said, “I was very disappointed to see in the papers for the meeting that last year only 33% of disadvantaged pupils attained five good GCSEs. I was also very disappointed that the gap between disadvantaged and other pupils increased to 41%, against a national gap of 26 %.
Two years ago, Bucks was heavily criticised by the Education Ministers for failing our disadvantaged children. We had the largest gap of any county in England.
The latest results are devastating. Bucks is still failing its disadvantaged pupils and worse than ever.
I therefore expected the Cabinet Member for Education and Skills to express his concern at the meeting and let us know what he proposed to do about it. But no – he said we had some excellent schools in Bucks, it was renowned for its schools, and he was “really pleased”.
I expected the Chairman of the Select Committee to challenge that view. But no – she said she was proud of the work being done and it takes time to build relationships.
It was left to me, 20 minutes into the discussion, to point out the Bucks was going backwards in the attainment of its disadvantaged children.
Even then, other members of the Committee seemed unperturbed about Bucks’ deteriorating performance. We were told staff were working incredibly hard. No-one asked if and when this work would actually narrow the gap between disadvantaged and other children. What does it take to get BCC to face up to its failures?”
David Williams QC, who was Wycombe Labour’s Parliamentary candidate, said “Thank goodness we have one BCC Councillor who actually reads the papers, understands what is happening and is prepared to point out what the situation is really like.
It is no co-incidence of course that he is a Labour Councillor.
Earlier this year, consultants working for the Secretary of State for Education criticised the lack of scrutiny by BCC’s Select Committee. But BCC just does not learn. It gave Cllr Stuchbury a hard time at the meeting, repeatedly interrupting his questions and challenging his right to be there. We are grateful he persevered in raising his questions.
We note that once again the primary schools have done well in narrowing the gap in their schools. However once again the attainment gap gets a lot worse when children enter the selective system of Bucks secondary schools.
Again this is strong evidence that it is the very fact of selection that makes the inequality between poorer pupils and their peers so bad. Tory- dominated BCC will not even consider the evidence that selective education is bad for our poorer children.
Wycombe Labour continues to believe that Bucks should abolish selective education."