London's schools still need to improve, says London Councils

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London schools must improve to ensure the capital remains the educational powerhouse of the UK, according to London Councils’ Executive member for children, skills and employment.

Councillor Peter John said while the capital’s children continued to outperform other regions, schools needed to change to meet ‘the challenges of today’ such as increasing competition from an ever-expanding pool of global talent. His call to action comes as politicians and leaders in education prepare to gather today (Monday 16 March) at the Royal Society of Arts to consider how to ensure the continued success of the capital’s schools. 

The event marks the launch of a collection of essays, Lessons from London, which set out how boroughs worked with central government and schools to turn around London’s schools from the worst performing region to the best. In 1989, the year boroughs took over from the Inner London Education Authority, less than nine per cent of pupils in the capital achieved five or more higher grade GCSEs, compared to 17 per cent nationally. Last year, 70.5 per cent achieved those results, compared to 63.8 per cent nationally. 

Cllr John said: “The transformation in London’s schools cannot be underestimated. From failing schools, we have outstanding ones, from declining standards and poor leadership, we now have schools that set the standard for others to follow.

“Yet this success story wasn’t the result of the efforts of one particular part of government or agency over another. 

“It was the result of everybody – teachers, parents, governors, support staff, councillors, council officers, civil servants, and national politicians – working together to enable pupils of all backgrounds and all levels to achieve their potential.

“But as London’s population continues to grow along with its status as a global mega-city, the question is how do we ensure that success continues. 

“From the views expressed in this collection of essays, it’s clear that only by working with all partners can Government achieve meaningful, long-term change, which significantly adds value to the learning experience of young Londoners, and ensures the capital remains the educational powerhouse of the UK.”

Seven essays have been compiled examining the role of London boroughs in the London Challenge, an initiative launched in 2003 by the then government to improve standards in the capital’s schools.

Among the contributors are Sir Tim Brighouse, former Commissioner for London Schools, Jon Coles, former Director of London Challenge, Professor Christine Gilbert, former Director of Education in Tower Hamlets, former Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector at Ofsted and currently Chief Executive of the London Borough of Brent and Mayor Jules Pipe, Mayor of Hackney and Chair of London Councils.

The authors will be discussing the causes of London’s school improvement with a particular emphasis on the role of local authorities from 2.30pm today at the RSA in John Adam Street.