Government minister says more improvements needed in Portsmouth schools

Newbridge Junior School Picture: Maria Bujor

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THE minister for schools has praised the work the city has done to improve education – but has warned there is a long way to go.

David Laws MP was invited to the city to hear more about proposals for a new Solent Initiative.

David Laws

David Laws

Portsmouth City Council wants to run a project called the Solent Challenge, inspired by the London Challenge.

That saw big improvements in results in schools over 15 years.

Mr Laws said: ‘We wrote to Portsmouth council at the end of last year as a department to challenge them about its results and to suggest that it really could be doing a lot better and it’s responded to that in a positive way.

‘What we now want Portsmouth to do is to learn from the experiences of places like inner London that radically improved and transformed their results.

‘I’m pleased with the progress that Portsmouth is making but they would be the first to accept that there is a lot further to go.

‘The attainment in some of the schools is still too low, the gaps between youngsters from advantaged and disadvantaged backgrounds is too wide.’

Mr Laws said that he hopes to inspire people in the city to improve standards.

‘I’m encouraging people to think really ambitiously about what young people can achieve in this area, not just to meet the national average but I would like to see Portsmouth exceed it.

‘I would like in five or 10 years time the rest of the country to be looking at Portsmouth in the same way that Portsmouth looks at inner London.

‘Portsmouth is doing the right thing now but it’s got a long way to go and the department in London is going to keep a close eye on what’s happening.’

City council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said: ‘None of us are under any illusion that education needs to be improved here in Portsmouth and schools are working hard to do that and results are getting better. But there’s still a long way to go.

‘We’ve been talking about how we can work together better to make sure that every child here in Portsmouth gets the best education they can and the best start in life.’