Birmingham shows good progress

Diane Hofkins

Labour-controlled Birmingham has developed an international reputation for looking ahead and having ambitious plans for the future, says a report on the city's educational progress over the past two years.

The report, by a commission chaired by Professor Ted Wragg of Exeter University, highlights the inspiration and vision provided by chief education officer Tim Brighouse for a previously depressed education service.

But it warns against flooding schools with too many initiatives at once. The report, a follow-up to the Birmingham Education Commission set up by the council which produced its report two years ago, says tough targets for improvement are being met, but there are still some important shortfalls.

"We were very concerned about the response from witnesses on the matter of children with special educational needs," write the commissioners.

"There was a widespread feeling, which we share, that the issue of special needs had simply been neglected until recently. Special needs must be very high on the priority list for the next two years and beyond."

Schools, particularly in the primary sector, were beginning to set their own targets for improvement, against their previous best - an initiative recommended by the commission.

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