Two weeks ago I made a major announcement about the future of education and skills provision in Doncaster.
The results in some of our schools and the overall level of skills and qualifications in the borough are not where they need to be. A good education is vital. It gives people more choice about their lives, enabling them to have more control over their career and successfully secure a job they will enjoy, and financially support themselves.
At the same time, job creation and economic growth are vital to Doncaster and I have made them my top priority as Mayor. We need more highly skilled, well-paid jobs to benefit Doncaster and its residents. Great progress is being made, but it will be for nothing if local people aren’t able to benefit from the opportunities being created, because they do not have the skills that a job requires.
We have some very good schools, teachers and training providers, but in too many areas we are behind the national average. Our younger children achieve similar levels in reading, speaking, listening, maths and science as other areas of the country. But as our children get older the problem becomes clearer.
Not enough schools perform well. At both Key Stage 2 and Key Stage 4 (GCSE level) performance in Doncaster is behind the national average.
As the level of qualification rises, we fall further behind. Our A-level results are below average and this means that so do are our university level qualifications.
This is not new and not good enough. We must act. So, with support from our partners in education, the private sector and the public sector, I announced a review of our education and skills.
The Education and Skills Commission will be independent from the council and its partners, and will be led by national education and skills experts. The commission will be chaired by Dr Ann Limb, a national expert on further education and skills. The vice chair will be Prof Sir Tim Brighouse, one of the country’s leading educationalists who recently led the London Challenge which has delivered huge improvements in their secondary school performance.
The review will assess our system and make recommendations for improvements. The aim is to create a learning and skills system that better supports young people to enter work and responds to the growing demands of business.
The commissioners are expected to hear evidence from local people, including parents, businesses, education and training providers, before putting forward its proposals for improvement.
It is expected to deliver its final report late this year and I look forward to hearing what actions they recommend to radically improve performance in Doncaster.