— Julian Bell (@juliangbell) February 4, 2015
On Wednesday the education people at the council came out with this staggeringly banal press release, “Ealing high schools continue to do well”. It satisfied itself with comparing the average attainment across the whole borough of Ealing with national averages, ignoring the fact that for some years London schools have improved faster than the national average. The Labour councillor in charge, Walpole councillor Binda Rai, said:
What these figures tell me is that our local high schools are doing a good job at preparing young people for sixth form, further education and apprenticeships.
We are consistently above the national average in a range of measures and I congratulate all of the teaching staff, and their students, on a job well done.
This complacent nonsense ignores the vast disparities between the state schools in the borough. The English Baccalaureate standard (EBacc) is a high bar but comparing local state schools on this metric is stunning:
There are essentially three classes of Ealing school. Twyford is in an academic league of its own getting 62% of its pupils through the EBacc. Hopefully it can work its magic on the new William Perkin School in Greenford. Then there is a middle tier of schools that get between 34% and 47% of their pupils through the EBacc. Should Elthorne be in this group with an achievement level down at 34%? What is stopping it pushing up into the 40s? What is Greenford doing so well? Can this be repeated in this group and the lower group?
Which brings us to the lower group. Six Ealing schools that get an EBacc rate of less than 20%. How can this group be so weak? How has Greenford managed not to be in this group? What is the council doing about it?
When you look at the benchmark five GCSEs including maths and English the groupings are a little less obvious but still clear. Greenford’s outperformance looks even more remarkable, putting it second in the borough.
We have no public debate about any of this. How can we hope to change it? We have six schools that are too close to the 40% level where schools are deemed to be failing. Dormers Wells is shockingly low at 43%.
Meanwhile the politician in charge, Binda Rai, who works for the University of London, knows that not enough young people are getting as good an education as they could in Ealing. Certainly not enough are getting the kind of start in life that would get them into one of UL’s colleges. All she has to say is: “Ealing high schools continue to do well”.