SHORTAGES in council officers mean struggling schools are not getting enough help to turn things around, it has been claimed.
One in four schools are rated less than good and opposition councillors believe the education service of Cheshire West and Chester Council needs more resources.
Cllr David Armstrong, Labour’s portfolio holder for children services, said he was worried not enough was being done to help schools needing improvement. He told the council executive he believed education officers were “hampered” because of the lack of resources.
He said: “Cheshire West has a large number of very successful schools. Sadly there are a number of schools in Cheshire West that are struggling top get what Ofsted class as a ‘good’ grading.”
Cllr Armstrong, who lives in Kelsall, said two senior education officers had left the council to take up school inspector roles. He said the education service was in need of more “key staff” with the right skills and experience.
“Turning around schools that are not ‘good’ or better takes time and is very difficult,” he told the meeting on Wednesday. “They have a huge amount to do with not enough personnel resources.”
Cllr Mark Stocks, executive member for education and children, said Ofsted had rated 74 per cent of schools as ‘good’ or better. But he said the lack of experienced staff could be an issue and work was being done on this.
“We are working incredibly hard to ensure all schools meet the Ofsted requirements,” he said. “I do accept resources personnel wise can be an issue and it’s something we are very conscious of.”
Cllr Stocks said the council was selecting headteachers from good schools and getting them to provide support to schools performing less well.
Speaking about West Cheshire schools, council leader Mike Jones said: “Our performance is very, very good. Yes, we can always do better but we are doing very well.”
Cllr Armstrong raised the concerns as the executive approved changes to school funding in light of government reforms. He said he welcomed the changes as they would put all schools on a “level playing field” but warned some schools would be
“significantly disadvantaged” and would need extra help.
Cllr Armstrong said it was vital primary school pupils who struggle with reading and writing and children from deprived areas were given additional support.
Cllr Stocks said the council recognised this and the new funding formulas had been designed to help those who needed extra help.