Council to improve ‘poor relationship’ with schools

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THE county council says it is trying to improve what was a ‘poor relationship’ with schools in West Sussex.

During cabinet member question time at last Friday’s West Sussex County Council’s full council meeting, the authority’s current priorities in education and its relationship with the county’s schools were discussed.

Brenda Smith (Lab, Langley Green & West Green) asked: “Why has the council’s relationship with schools become so distant?”

Jeremy Hunt (Con, Chichester North), WSCC’s cabinet member for education and skills, replied: “All I can talk about is the part I have been involved in.

“I accept my predecessors started to rebuild that relationship because it was obviously a poor relationship and it needs building up.”

He added: “I have very high hopes we will be able to build [up] these relationships.”

He thought the change in relationships may have been due to a shift of focus nationally after the Government’s Academies Act in 2010.

The council’s two priorities remained rising the attainment of pupils in West Sussex, and getting more children attending schools either rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, Mr Hunt added.

He said they would support schools if they wished to convert to academies even if it was not the county council’s main focus.

He explained: “Our concentration has moved from the academisation programme which came in from 2010 and we are now focused on these two things.

“These are our two main focus points.”

The meeting was held at County Hall in Horsham with the main council chamber at Chichester still being renovated.