A SPECIALIST team put together to improve standards in Basildon’s primary schools has been asked to look at secondary schools as well.

The Basildon Excellence Panel, launched in February, is planning expand its remit to oversee Woodlands, De La Salle, and James Hornsby schools as well as both Basildon academies.

Essex County Council has already spent about £100,000 getting the panel to improve teaching and help the borough’s 18 primary schools get better Sats scores, with further investment expected.

Sir Mike Tomlinson, a former senior Ofsted figure who leads the panel, said: “I would hope they would all agree to participate with us from next January onwards.

“It would be very good, because it would show all parts of Basildon were trying to do whatever they could to help.”

The panel involves borough and county councils, plus the Basildon Education Services Trust, a charity set up to support local schools.

By 2016 it aims to see all local primary schools rated rated “good” or better by Ofsted and turning in Key Stage 2 test results better than the Essex average.

Trust director Patrick White said the aim was to improve all local secondary schools to avoid a “tiered” system under which pupils were all competing to get into to a small number of comprehensives with good results, while other pupils and schools were left behind.

He added: “Parents and children chase and try to go to schools outside Basildon. It is a fundamental problem.”

Progress is already being seen in the borough’s primary schools, with independent advisers, many of whom work for Ofsted, coming into schools to advise on ways to improve teaching practices.

Mr White said primary schools were also working together more to share good practice and help those which were struggling.