Woldgate head welcomes fund

Jeff Bower
Jeff Bower

THE HEADTEACHER of a local secondary school has welcomed plans to launch a £200,000 excellence fund to help East Riding schools improve GCSE results.

Jeff Bower, headteacher of Pocklington’s Woldgate College, estimates the fund, to be created by East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC), could see each of the 18 secondaries run by the local authority receive £15,000.

He said the money would enable Woldgate to increase staffing slightly for key GCSE groups.

Last year, schools in the county plummeted 70 places down the national league table following a slump in exam results, dropping to 110 out of 151 local authorities.

Woldgate was among a third of East Riding secondary schools which suffered a dip in performance.

Mr Bower said: “Any extra funding, however late and however small, is always very welcome as the East Riding is so badly funded compared to other local authorities nationally.

“By my estimate, if all the eligible secondary schools in the county bid successfully, it will mean about £15K each.

“This will enable us to target a little extra staffing at key GCSE groups to reduce group size and increase individual student/teacher interaction.

“This can only impact positively on students and outcomes.

He added: “However, tackling systemic under-funding issues is the only long-term answer to raising student achievement.

The £200,000 Excellence For All Fund will require approval from the full council next month.

Schools would be invited to bid for funding to spend on initiatives to help more pupils achieve the GCSE gold standard of five or more A*-C grades, including maths and English.

In 2011, 55.1 per cent of East Riding schools gained the gold standard, compared with 58.3 per cent nationally.

• Meanwhile, Woldgate will be holding a parental consultation meeting on Thursday, 26 January where the school’s governing body will make a decision on whether to convert to an academy.

Mr Bower said: “We have been looking at this issue for over a year now and are just about to hold our second parental consultation meeting.

“The staff have been consulted throughout and the students are having their say this week.

“We have spent over three months carrying out due diligence and have visited academies both in this county and beyond.

“We feel confident that we will have all the information we need to make an informed decision on the 26 January.

“Needless to say our prime concern is to make a decision in the best interests of the students and their outcomes - our priorities are pragmatic not political.”