Reading is one of the most important skills in life

There are few more important skills you can learn in life than being able to read.

Without it, simple things like making sense of the instructions on a packet of food or understanding a utility bill can prove daunting.

Last week the government published its validated key stage 2 results for our primary schools, revealing how many pupils reached the required level of attainment in reading, writing and mathematics.

Although the results show some progress, overall they need to improve and this is why I have commissioned a review to begin in the new year to see if there is anything more the council can do to support our schools to raise attainment.


St Michael’s Gate petition to be discussed in final full council meeting of 2016

As I write this week’s column I’m just a few hours away from the final full council meeting of the year.

One of the items up for discussion is a petition relating to St Michael’s Gate in Parnwell which asks councillors to debate and reconsider the decision to use the properties for our homeless families.

The council has now entered into a contract with Stef and Phillips so it’s too late to reconsider. However, I stand by the decision for reasons I have explained previously.

The alternative, if we’d said no, is that the homes would have been offered to another local authority who would then use them to house their own families in housing need. These are people we would then have a duty to support at a time when services such as education and social care are already stretched. The existing households that live in St Michael’s Gate would still have to find somewhere else to live. In addition, we’d have had to make cuts to our services next year to the tune of £2million, which would have affected every resident in the city.


Peterborough schools judged positively in annual report

Sir Michael Wilshaw, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills published his final annual report, prior to his retirement, on 1 December 2016.  

The report highlights, amongst other things, that Peterborough is one of the best areas for the number of schools judged good or outstanding by Ofsted. In the East of England, Peterborough is ranked joint third for the percentage of children attending good or outstanding schools at both primary and secondary level. Translated into real figures the following represents the progress made:

  • 91% of primary school pupils in Peterborough attend good or outstanding schools. This is a year on year increase of 6% and a 31% rise since 2012;
  • 92% of secondary school pupils attend a good or outstanding school. This is a year on year increase of 8% and a 9% rise since 2012.

Contrast this picture with the unvalidated data on education attainment in those same schools rated good and outstanding and you find a picture, at Key Stage 2 (11 year olds) where attainment is one of the weakest in the country. This picture may appear, on the face of it, puzzling and inexplicable but in reality this is not the case and I would like to explain why.  


New Innovation Lab unveiled this week

In his first Autumn Statement as chancellor, Philip Hammond announced plans to help British technology start-up companies by investing an initial £400million into venture capital funds.

This demonstrated an understanding that the UK needs to encourage and spearhead innovation and keep pace with the USA and China.

Supporting entrepreneurs, engineers and inventors is something we put a lot of emphasis on in Peterborough and I am delighted by this week’s unveiling of The Innovation Lab.

This new resource at the Allia Future Business Centre in Peterborough will help turn ideas into realities, in particular for those entrepreneurs who want to make a positive, sustainable impact on the world.