Ofsted letter sparks row over schools

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A senior councillor has accused Leeds City Council of failing children after Ofsted described the performance of primary schools as “inexcusable”.

The criticism was included in a letter from Nick Hudson, Ofsted’s regional director for Yorkshire, to the council demanding it set out plans to improve standards.

But the council has criticised Ofsted for failing to recognise the achievements of the primary schools.

The Ofsted letter followed primary school tests showing children in Leeds performed below average in reading, writing, maths and science.

It said: “However one compares outcomes for pupils’ attainment at key stages one and two in Leeds, its performance, whether against national or regional figures, is weak. This is frankly inexcusable.”

Coun Andrew Carter, leader of the opposition Conservative group, criticised the Labour-run authority for not making the letter public.

He said: “This sort of bad news never gets any better for being kept quiet. However the worst part of all this is the council is failing another generation.

“We have to make sure they are properly equipped for the rest of their education and indeed their working life to follow.”

Coun Lucinda Yeadon, the council’s executive member for children and families, said: “We were very surprised and concerned to receive this highly unusual letter, which was not sent to us in line with the usual professional protocols we would expect.

“We understand that other local authorities in Yorkshire have received remarkably similarly-phrased letters.”

Coun Yeadon said nine out of 10 Leeds primary pupils were in a school rated good or outstanding by Ofsted.

She added: “Although we are disappointed that Ofsted has chosen not to recognise these achievements, we take the issues raised in the letter very seriously and are taking action to respond to them fully and appropriately.”