We’re not a city of dunces, but we do need a vision

No crib for a... sausage roll

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Let’s get one thing straight: we know there are hundreds of Portsmouth children who are talented in one way or another.

They are certainly not all heading for Oxbridge or even other universities, but they are bright, will become valued members of city society and have the potential to win good jobs.

We know this because we feature hundreds of them and their successes in these pages each year.

They may not be academic triumphs. Some children may be excellent dancers or singers, others might be shining in their apprenticeship. But they are all successful.

The last thing we would wish is that every child in this city should be tarred with the same Ofsted brush about which we report today.

However, we cannot ignore the inspectors’ damning criticism of Portsmouth City Council which makes such disturbing reading.

The authority is taken to task for not having a consistent vision of how it is going to improve education standards.

It has been told all children between 11 and 19 are falling below national standards; disadvantaged children are under-achieving, and those with special education needs have fallen behind.

It paints a grim picture of a city of dunces, which we know not to be true.

Yet Alison Jeffery, the council’s director of education, admits the council has failed its children.

No doubt this report will be seized on by the government as evidence that schools run by councils are failing and that’s why it wants all of them to become academies.

Not true.

There are countless examples of state-run, council-assisted schools which shine.

What Portsmouth needs is a visionary who can come up with a plan which will drag all children up to the level of those described above. And stick to it.