Northamptonshire £1m education project: Assessment expected soon

Pupils from Lings Primary School performing at the gala last night.
Pupils from Lings Primary School performing at the gala last night.
  • More than 20 county schools were given share of fund to improve standards
  • Projects celebrated at gala night at Wicksteed Park
  • University of Northampton to measure success of fund

The initial results of a £1m county council project to make Northamptonshire one of the highest performing counties for education is set to be announced in six weeks.

The fund, implemented last year as part of the Race to the Top strategy, saw 22 schools across the county split the money for a variety of projects.

The success of the project so far will be measured by the University of Northampton, which will take into account scores from attainment and surveys across children who took part.

Speaking at a gala celebration last night, council chairman Jim Harker said he’s expecting good results.

He said: “The important thing now is to measure the effect of all of it and the University of Northampton are doing some work in that respect, and they’ll be producing an interim report in about six weeks.

“Part of it is attainment and some of it you can measure, such as the difference between SATs results from one year to the next.

“There’s various other ways you can do it and one way is to actually interview the children and get them to say whether they feel more inspired, more confident, more interested in things going on outside.

“If they come back and say yes then that’s great and that’s what I’m looking for.

“I’m really expecting to see some results from that, although they will be interim results because it does take a few years to work it through.

“It’s provided more cultural opportunities, sporting opportunities and scientific opportunities and all sorts of project work which they wouldn’t get the chance to do normally.”

Among the schools to take part were Lings Primary - whose pupils put on a fantastic performance at the gala - Kettering Science Academy, and the Grange School in Daventry.

Success stories were shared, with the audience hearing about pupils who felt more motivated and confident after taking part in Race To The Top projects.

But despite the expected good results, county council cabinet member for learning skills and education Cllr Matt Golby isn’t sure whether the fund will be opened up again next year.

He said: “In the grand scheme of it £1m is a lot of money but we’ve tried to use it quite wisely.

“We haven’t decided whether we’re going to open another round of bidding exactly but the whole Race to the Top is our strategy for the next five to six years.

“There’s the whole Government white paper at the minute and what is the role of the local authority moving forward, and there’s a lot of questions but we’re very keen that the Race To The Top represents that.”

“When we launched the Race To The Top programme we said we wanted to be in the top quartile by 2020, and that’s a big aspiration given where Northamptonshire is educationally.”

Cllr Golby says it is important that we invest in our future.

He added: “I’ve been out and visited virtually all the schools and all the projects and it’s been a really good success.

“What’s key to it is drawing out all the good parts of the project that we can use and work with in a sustainable way moving forward.

“It’s a celebration of all the hard work and the projects that have happened in the schools across the county.

“We all want the best for them and it’s all about the children, we’ve got to try and invest in our future.”