Islington schools attacked by Ofsted

THE LONDON borough whose secondary schools were rejected by Tony Blair will today be the subject of the most damning report so far on a local authority.

Islington council in north London will accept the report but points to figures showing that about 43 per cent of parents, nearly all middle-class, choose to send their children to secondary school elsewhere.

Council officials have agreed to co-operate with ministers in a privatisation of council services that is likely to be the most far-reaching to date.

The report from the Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted) is said to be even more devastating than the one that condemned the neighbouring London borough of Hackney and the remedy is certain to be more drastic: only two of Hackney's services are being contracted out to a private company.

Islington's schools went to the top of the political agenda when Tony and Cherie Blair decided to send their two sons six miles across the capital to the London Oratory.

The council said yesterday it accepted the need for radical changes but that criticisms must be seen in the light of the borough's social problems. About 40 per cent of those in social classes A and B send their children to secondary schools in the neighbouring borough of Camden. The figure for those in social classes C and D is only 2 per cent.

Leisha Fullick, the council's chief executive, said: "We accept that something really radical needs to be done. There are severe problems with our secondary schools. We need to give the whole community confidence in our schools. At present they are not genuinely comprehensive, they are secondary modern. We all know children do better in a genuinely mixed environment."

One plan is for a new partnership board of parents, councillors and businesses, which would offer policy leadership and advise the council, bypassing the education committee.

Andrew Roberts, the borough's chief education officer, who has just produced his own critical report of the authority, said: "We know we could do better with the children we have but what will really make the shift is persuading the people of Islington to send their children to our schools."

While Islington's primary schools chalk up national test results close to the national average, though below the average for London, at GCSE the pass rate is barely half the national average.

Jeremy Corbyn, Labour MP for Islington North, and his wife, Claudia, said last week their marriage had foundered over her refusal to send their son to the borough's schools.

Islington, in partnership with the Department for Education, will invite consultants to look at its services: it is not being compelled to do so by David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education. Mr Blunkett is giving the authority three months to come up with a solution.

The Ofsted report talks of "deep-rooted and longstanding problems" in the borough and a second report from the Audit Commission questions whether the education authority is giving value for money.

Some observers believe that publication of the reports has been brought forward after critics accused the Government of failing to carry through privatisation threats in Hackney.

Headmasters from up to 40 independent schools are to begin a challenge at the European Court of Human Rights against laws forbidding corporal punishment.

The schools will argue that their pupils' parents should be able to select a school that smacks children - a right that the School Standards and Framework Bill will remove.

The Christian Schools' Trust, of which many of the 40 are members, met in Derbyshire yesterday and heard that its application may be filed in Strasbourg this month.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?