PUPILS in Southend are not getting the education they deserve and schools must improve, James Courtenay the councillor responsible for education has admitted.
Headteachers and governors failing children will be axed and education experts brought in to pull up struggling schools after Ofsted branded Southend schools among the worst in the country.
Four out of ten of the borough’s primary pupils and a third of its secondary pupils go to a school that is inadequate or requires improvement, according to the education watchdog’s annual report.
Southend Council plans to spend £200,000 a year for the next three years on an early years adviser and a secondary education adviser to help make all schools good or outstanding.
The authority has already replaced headteachers at Cecil Jones College and Futures Community College and the new cash will also fund “superheads” and special teams drafted in to drive up standards at other schools.
Mr Courtenay said: “It’s not good enough. Things need to improve.
“It’s not a disaster, but kids in Southend have got a right to expect to go to a good or outstanding school and we will not stop until we have got that.”
Two and a half years ago, Southend Council set a target for all 52 schools in the borough to be “good” or “outstanding” by this September.
But with seven months to go, just 60 per cent of Southend primary pupils go to a school achieving one of Ofsted’s top two ratings – placing Southend Council 145th out of 152 local education authorities in England.
A cross-party group of councillors are expected to publish recommendations for how to improve Southend primary school pupils’ performance in the 11-plus next month.
The council launched a probe after the Echo revealed just one in ten pupils from Southend primaries passed the grammar school entrance exam last year.
Two-thirds of Southend secondary pupils go to a “good” or “ outstanding” school – but that includes academies, which are outside local authority control.
Mr Courtenay, who is expecting three upcoming Ofsted reports to improve the figures, said: “I want it to happen tomorrow, but I’m sensible enough to realise it won’t.
“The school improvement plan is a three-year plan and we are into year three.
“Every time we look at intervening, whether it’s governors going or bringing in additional support, all that is done with the thought of how is this going to help us get it good or outstanding.”
He added: “Running a school is one of the toughest jobs. I’m pleased with our relationship with the academy schools.”