Southampton’s schools made tremendous progress in 2011.
GCSE results were up again, our improvement outstripping the national average, with a 4.5% jump in 5 GCSEs including English and Maths – our largest ever single increase. Our A-Level and Key Stage 2 results were the best ever too. In the last couple of years Southampton has shot up the national league tables for SATs.
We have some fantastic head teachers with real leadership and dedication, as well as committed and talented teaching and support staff. We are fortunate to have some of the best head teachers in the country working within the city and this is really bearing fruit locally.
2011 saw the first year of the new Pupil Premium; additional money for schools to support disadvantaged children. In 2011, on average, Southampton schools received an extra 3.4% in funding from government and this included more than £2.7m extra in the form of the new Pupil Premium.
This year Southampton’s Pupil Premium from government will rise to an incredible £5.7m. This is great news and we are already seeing the benefits, with some schools taking on additional teachers.
The city council has in place a major investment programme for the city’s schools, with £4.5m allocated last year for repairs and improvement works to secondary schools and over £14m allocated for primary schools, to help meet the demand for extra places from the growing number of primary school children in the city.
We have also installed solar panels on the roofs of Bassett Green, Beechwood, Tanners Brook and Shirley Warren schools so that these schools will have cheaper energy and the council will benefit from the government’s ‘Feed In Tariff.’
All the evidence shows that a good start in life has the biggest impact on a child’s education and so I am delighted that the current council has made a cast iron commitment to keep open all the city’s SureStart centres and to support the ongoing good work that they do.
Schools are taking advantage of new freedoms available to them with a number of schools opting for academy status or applying to convert in 2012. We even have our first successful free school application.
Parents value choice and diversity in local schools and it is important that over the coming years we meet the needs of local children and parents and that attainment continues to progress at the incredible rate we have seen in the last year. I have every confidence that this will happen and that 2012 will be another amazing year for Southampton schools.