Raising Aspiration and Achievement in Cornwall

Since I have been in my post as Portfolio Holder for Children and Young People, one of the primary aims of the Directorate – and therefore the Council – is to raise the aspiration and achievement of our children and young people in Cornwall. I believe that all our children and young people are entitled to the best possible life chances. This can be achieved by enhancing their access to the highest quality educational opportunities, underpinned by challenging aspirations to not just their expect potential, but beyond.

The Raising Aspiration and Achievement Strategy (RAAS) will ensure that high aspiration for all children and young people are shared with families, and across all strands of education from Early Years to Primary and Secondary Schools and Further and Higher Education institutions. This includes high quality and impartial Information, Advice and Guidance. Which is very good in some areas, but not across the board. 

Put simply; raising aspiration and achievement is everybody’s business.

The strategy focuses on a small number of specific priority areas where we are underperforming and aims to drive up standards so that Cornwall’s performance is not merely average, or below average. I believe  it is not good enough to aspire to just being average.

These priorities (in brief) are:

  • High aspiration for all children and young people, particularly the most able
  • Attainment and progress of boys particularly in the secondary phase
  • closing the cap for vulnerable groups
  • school organisation and sustainability for schools

In some Key Stage areas, Cornwall is ‘on target’ in some of the key stages. For Key Stage 1 and 2 is at or just above the national average for 2013. In Key Stage 4 there is a trend of improvement from 2012 when 55.4% (national average 59.4%) of students achieved 5 + A-C including maths and English to 59.3% in 2013 (national average 58.6%).  This is an improvement of 4% and near 1% above the national average. But as I have said before, we should not aspire to be average. But this improvement should be welcomed.

The gender gap is a real area of concern. Whilst girls have achieved at or above the national average, boys performance is of greater concern as they advance through their educational life.

  • Key Stage 4 – 5+ A* – C  (including English and Maths): Girls – 64.9% –  Boys – 72%
  • Higher Educational Degree (2011/12): Girls – 57% – Boys – 43%

The gap for those young people on Job Seekers Allowance is stark (under 25 – As of Feb 2013): Girls – 940 – Boys 1930

This is why the RAAS is important to raising aspirations and achievement in our children and young people. However, this is just the start, as any strategy is just a document. it is what you do with that document that counts. For the RAAS to be successful  it will need everyone working together throughout the educational stages  if we want to give our children and young people the best possible start educationally. By doing this it enable our children and young people to fulfil their full potential.

2 comments

  • John Marshall

    High aspirations come through high expectations; of teachers, parents and others. In my time as a teacher in Cornwall I came across the attitude of parents towards boys as a “boys will be boys” (with a fond smile). My first Headteacher in the County warned me: “The boys need a bomb under them.”

    All too often parents are too indulgent, particularly towards boys.

  • Falmouth Rotary Club had a fascinating talk today by the marvellous Clare Smith, Head of Falmouth Primary, soon to be an Academy School, on this very subject. Her school has a catchment area including some of the most deprived and troubled homes in Cornwall and yet she has turned the school around to be a vibrant and exciting place, achieving excellent results. Example: In the year before she arrived there were 125 exclusions. In following years, zero. Pupils with challenging behaviour now cared for in house with a carefully worked out programme which starts with a zero tolerance of bad behaviour. Rotary works with this school on reading schemes and hopes to extend this interaction to other areas such as Mentoring. (Followers of Councillor Wallis might know that he is also a Mentor on the CC enabled and privately sponsored Citizenship 4 Life scheme for an older age group, in between his Portfolio-ing efforts).

    A good cost effective initiative here. Also agree with the previous post that boys do need more encouragement to set their sights high than girls.

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