York still above average in education performance

A Council report,  being considered next week, confirms that the City’s education system is continuing to  achieve above average performance results.

click to enlarge

click to enlarge

Exam results at both GCSE and advance level stages show an improvement over the previous year.

OFSTED inspections reveal that, as of 9th October 2015, 89% of York secondary schools are rated “good or outstanding”, 88% of primaries are “good or outstanding” and 100% of our special schools are “good or outstanding”.

This means that overall, of the 64 schools in the city, 89% are good or outstanding.

At most education stages the difference in achievement  between less well off pupils (entitled to pupil premium) and others, has either narrowed or remained constant, although the gap widened in mathematics at Key Stage 2

Detailed performance graphs can be found by clicking here

Walk to school week in York

walking bus 2Thirty one schools and over 9,000 pupils across the city are taking part in the biggest ever Walk to School Week campaign which aims to encourage even more children to walk, cycle or scoot to school.

The school that gets the highest number of pupils walking, cycling or scooting throughout the week will win the coveted Jack Archer award and £300, funded by Age UK.

‘Scoot to School’ day will also take place on Wednesday 14 October. To encourage students to scoot the school with the most pupils who scoot to school on that day will win a Scooter Pod worth £300 donated by CyclePod.

It is recommended that children aged five to sixteen do at least sixty  minutes of physical activity that gets their heart beating faster than usual and they need to do it everyday to burn off calories and prevent them storing up excess fat in the body.

Regular activity is also important for adults and it is recommended that adults make sure they’re active for just 30 minutes each day, or 150 minutes a week.

The scheme is also targeted at families who normally take the car, and encourages them to consider walking or cycling to school instead.

Residents can find out more about changing the way they travel in York at: www.itravelyork.info/

Deadline for York Secondary School applications nears

York HighWith all open days for York secondary schools now completed, parents are reminded that applications for secondary school places for September 2016 should be made before 31 October 2015.

Parents of children currently in Year 6 – the last year of primary school – should apply for a maximum of five schools and one preference should be the catchment school.

Applications can be made online at www.york.gov.uk/schooladmissions

All details and answers to frequently asked questions can be found at www.york.gov.uk/guideforparents. This guide, updated for 2016 admissions, contains information on school admissions and appeals processes as well as information on admissions statistics, oversubscription criteria and other information for parents and carers. Also online are details for service families and information on fair access.

Applicants will be advised of their allocated school on National Offer Day, 1 March 2016.

For more detailed information, please email: education@york.gov.uk or call 01904 551 554.

Parents offered £1,300 in York

School childrenEligible residents could have up to £1,300 spent on helping their school-age child to do even better for this and for the next six academic years if they apply before January 2016.

As the new terms starts, applying for free school meals could not only mean a daily hot lunch if the child wants one, but the Government will give £1,300 every year for each eligible pupil at primary schools and £965 per year per student at secondary schools.

With an estimated 400 children eligible in York but whose parents are not claiming, this could mean that up to £380,000 of Government funding is being missed out on by York pupils and their schools.

The Pupil Premium, as it is known, is paid to the child’s school and is used to help them do even better with their schoolwork. It could mean extra help with homework, uniform vouchers or buying extra books.

The Pupil Premium will be paid whether or not the pupil takes the free meals. If they prefer, they can choose to have them on certain days or even if they prefer to take a packed lunch every day. School meals provide a tasty and nutritious choice of hot or cold lunch every day.

Successful applications made before the school census in January 2016 will mean that the school will get this funding every year for the next six academic years, but applications can be made at any time throughout the school year. Parents or carers can apply through the school or online at www.york.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals.

While all children in school Reception and Years 1 and 2 currently receive free school meals, eligible parents and carers still need to apply for the Pupil Premium to be allocated to their child.

To qualify for free school meals, parents or carers must get one of the following income-related benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Job Seekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit combined with both a household income below £16,190, and not in receipt of any Working Tax Credit
  • Support under part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999
  • Guarantee Element of State Pension Credit.

Contributions-based benefits, including contribution-related Job Seekers Allowanceare not qualifying benefits. Parents or carers who have just started to work less than 16 hours a week, or immediately after employment has ceased for a temporary four week ‘run-on’ period only may be eligible.

For more information, to check eligibility or to apply, please go to www.york.gov.uk/freeschoolmeals or contact School Services at West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA or call 01904 551554 or email education@york.gov.uk

York makes grants available for aspiring musicians


York Music Hub is launching its Commissioning Plan and inviting musical organisations in York to apply for funding of up to £2,000 each, and clusters of schools up to £4,000 each, to help support its vision for musical provision in the city.

The commissioning plan seeks to allocate up to £40,000 during the academic year 2015/2016 and commission musical services which help develop sustainable, high quality and diverse musical experiences for local children and young people.

Funding bids should also support the National Plan for Music Education and may reflect the needs and issues identified in research undertaken by York Music Hub in 2012 and York St.John University in 2014.

A wide variety of musical bids are expected which may, for example, develop a range of singing opportunities (particularly for boys), give opportunities for children to become involved in performing and specialist events, commission music specialists or develop opportunities for using music technology.  (more…)

Dringhouses cancern about impact of Academy school plan for Millthorpe

It looks like another 3 schools in York may opt for “Academy” status. Millthorpe secondary school and two of its feeder primaries, Scarcroft and Knavesmire in South Bank, want to “join forces”.

They are currently consulting on their plans on whether to apply for Multi-Academy Trust status.

The decision has potentially big implications for a wide area with many pupils from Dringhouses Primary school feeding into Millthorpe. There are also issues for the Poppleton Road area as well as Bishopthorpe and Copmanthorpe. Local primary schools there are not apparently being invited to participate in the “closer working arrangements”  offered to the Scarcroft and Knavesmire schools.

Millthorpe school catchment area clikc to enlarge

Millthorpe school catchment area clikc to enlarge

The three schools involved would be able to operate free of interference (or support) from the York Council. What practical effect this might have is open to debate. The Council, these days, has little involvement with the day to day running of schools. Staff and governors are firmly in control of most decisions. Revenue funding comes direct to the school from central government while capital, for improvements, is also ring fenced.

The main advantage likely to be promoted is an increased in income for the schools involved. Money, which otherwise would come to the York Council to provide services shared by all schools in the City, would instead be top sliced and given to the Academy to manage.

The Academy would control its admission policy and could change the conditions – and pay – of its staff. It has more influence over its curriculum and may choose to focus exam entrants into vocational subjects – potentially providing impressive pass rates.

While some parents are calling for some sort of popular vote on the Academy plan, it is unclear who would participate in such a ballot.

Arguably children at other – non Academy – schools could suffer.

  • Should their parents have a vote?

Academies rely on taxpayers money to survive.

  • Should each Academy proposal be subject to a popular referendum?

Yet there is something wrong with a decision being taken by a small group of governors some of whom – employees – might be set to benefit financially from a move to Academy status.

It is clear that the York Council cannot veto the introduction of an Academy so little in the way of political accountability is available to objectors.

Originally introduced by the last Labour government, the number of Academy schools has grown over the last 5 years. There are already six Academy schools in York.

They are Archbishop Holgate’s School, Manor C of E Academy Trust, Robert Wilkinson Primary School, Haxby Road Primary Academy, Huntington Primary School and Poppleton Ousebank Primary School. The last two named schools only converted on 1st April 2015.

In one case the Council picked up a bill of £48,000 in accumulated debts when the school became an Academy.

You can judge how well local Academies are perfuming by viewing their OFSTED ratings (click name below). 

School catchment areas/admission policies are an important factor when comparing exam performance

Taxpayers also need some objective and transparent way of making a judgement on whether their interests are being protected.

The head teacher at Millthorpe, Trevor Burton, criticised OFSTED reports 12 months ago. He claimed that the organisations gradings artificially favoured (selective) grammar schools. The impact that any three school Academy arrangement might have on the eligibility of children to participate successfully in the project will no doubt be a key consideration for decision makers.

South Bank schools academy proposals – parents meeting called

Millthorpe secondary school and two of it’s feeder primaries, Scarcroft and Knavesmire in South Bank, want to join forces and form an Academy

Prospective parents of any of the three schools are invited to attend a further formal information evening with Q & A .

It will take place on Tuesday 9 June at 7.00pm in the school hall at Millthorpe School.

Scarcroft School


Announcement of primary school place allocations in York as overcrowding grows

  • 92% of York children have been allocated their first preference primary school for September 2015.
  • 100% of York children have been allocated their first preference junior school for September 2015.
  • 8% of York children were allocated their 1st, 2nd or 3rd preference primary school. Need help or advice? – email education@york.gov.uk

Larger class sizes in York

The Council has also released details of overcrowding at some schools following a Freedom of Information request

In 2014 there were 8 infant classes with a size of over 30

These were at Poppleton Ousebank, Wheldrake, Elvington, St Lawrences, Bishopthorpe and Ralph Butterfield (3)

By 2015 this figure had increased to 12.

The schools affected are

  • Our Lady Queen of Martyrs,
  • Whedrake (2),
  • St Aelreds,
  • Elvington,
  • Bishopthorpe (5) and
  • Ralph Butterfield (2)

LibDems announce education manifesto

click to access

click to access


Truancy low in York schools

Attendance at City of York Council’s schools for 2013-2014 continues to be amongst the very best nationally, according to figures released by the Department for Education (DfE), with York returning the UK’s lowest number of persistent absentees for primary schools.


Data published on Friday 26 March for the first five half terms of 2013-14, shows that York is the UK’s joint second best-performing local authority for primary school attendance at 96.7%. City of York Council primary schools also had the joint lowest numbers nationally for persistent absentees at 1.3%.

This excellent performance was also reflected in secondary schools with attendance at 95.4%, placing York in the 20 top-performing local authorities out of 150 councils. The percentage of pupils in secondary schools regarded as persistent absentees was City of York Council’s lowest since records began with only 4.6% counting as persistent absentees.

Currently any pupil who is absent for 15% or more of their sessions is regarded as a persistent absentee, however from September 2015 this will change so that pupils with absence of 10% or more will count as a persistent absentee.

Pupils who miss between 10 per cent and 20 per cent of school tend to have lower attainment levels than average, with only 35 per cent achieving five A* to C GCSEs, including English and maths.

Jon Stonehouse, Director of Children’s Services, Education and Skills at City of York Council, said: “The work of teaching staff, police and council partners in the health sector as well as parental commitment all contribute to this excellent outcome which helps ensure that children overcome any barriers to attendance and have access to a good education. I would encourage any parent concerned about issues that they feel may lead to their child missing lessons to contact their school straight away.”

York Music Centre expands

A new weekend session for children and young people has been added by York Music Centre to its programme at Millthorpe School.

York Music Centre, run by York Arts Education and part of City of York Council, will offer a variety of choirs, ensembles, orchestras and tuition sessions each Saturday morning.

The session has moved from Canon Lee School and allows York Music Centre to consolidate provision with its Wednesday evening session at Millthorpe School from the end of February.

From Saturday 28 February, from 9.15am, York Music Centre will offer group music-making opportunities to children and young people aged 3 to 18 of all abilities.
These include top level ensembles such as Concert Band, Big Band and the Symphony Orchestra, entry level groups like Overture (for 3-5 year olds), WOW Band (for any instrumental beginners), Young Voices which helps develop singing and listening skills and World of Rhythm, run by Billy Hickling from the internationally acclaimed STOMP!
An adult choir is also available for parents and friends who don’t want to miss out on the fun.