Six reports on inspections of local authorities were published this week by the Office for Standards in Education, and only one was favourable - that for Kensington and Chelsea. Three councils were slated and two emerged with good points acknowledged
INSPECTORS had to search hard for weaknesses in the education service provided by the Conservative-run London borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
In the end they found one - ensuring and monitoring the provision of education other than that provided at school.
But even then, the Office for Standards in Education had to admit the council's 10-year campaign to improve schools in the royal borough had been outstandingly well-managed.
And its report points out that the sole criticism was set against many significant strengths which sprang from the "exemplary" strategy for school improvement.
Success has been achieved by schools against high odds, inspectors said, with strong backing from the council which poured money into its education service.
Kensington and Chelsea is a borough of huge contrasts, with areas of severe disadvantage and great wealth. Its unemployment rate is higher than the national average yet lower than the inner-London rate.
Twice the national average number of pupils are entitled to free meals and pupil mobility rates are very high, reflecting the number of asyum-seekers, homeless families and refugees in the area.
Many of its rich residents avoid Kensington and Chelsea's schools and, uniquely in this country, more than half (52 per cent) of the 21,300 pupils in the borough attend private school.
Yet Kensington and Chelsea's schools, according to OFSTED, provide a high quality of education with a much higher proportion of good teaching than is found nationally.
Pupil attainment is below average when they enter primary school, rises above the norm at the end of key stage 2 but drops below the national level for maths at KS3, because of a severe shortage of teachers.
At KS4, GCSE results mirrored the national average, inspectors said.
Pupil-teacher ratios in the 26 primary and four secondary schools were among the best in the country last year and, until recently, it has been paying above the inner-London rates for most posts.
Political leadership is praised as strong, well-informed and sharply focused on school performance and continuous improvement. Only one school has serious weaknesses.
KENSINGTON AND CHELSEA
expectations of schools
strategic planning and management
training for school staff
primary literacy and numeracy
education other than at school