York has for many years had very high-quality schools and education services. But, along with elsewhere in the country, our education system is now under pressure from Government policies, the fragmentation caused by academisation and serious underfunding (both of schools and Council support services) which is now leading to bigger class sizes, cuts to subject choices and cuts to teaching posts.

There are staff shortages, staff leaving the profession and significant recruitment challenges.

There is a target-based culture and increasingly narrow curriculum which puts huge pressure on children and teachers.

Where children have special educational needs special attention has to be paid to how they can best be supported. City of York Council’s Executive has approved plans totalling £8m capital spend to ensure that the changing needs of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) can continue to be supported locally.

York also struggles with a particularly bad ‘attainment gap’ between the good results achieved by most school students and the relatively small group at the bottom of the results table struggling to gain qualifications.

Education matters. To provide the best possible future for York and its young people, our schools need to be fit for purpose, well resourced and grounded in their local communities.

Much needs to be done.

We will:

  • Support all schools in the city in every possible way to maintain high standards for all children.
  • Work against further academisation; we believe that schools should be in the public domain under democratic oversight and not be run as businesses where the bottom line is more important than the quality of education.
  • Work to retain and fully value our highly committed teaching staff in all schools, recognising that they are the most crucial element in delivering high quality education for York’s children and young people.
  • Invest in continued support for the sharing of experience and expertise between schools in the city.
  • Work with children, young people, parents and teachers to promote our positive vision for education. This includes: 
    • Every school a good school,
    • schools close to where people live, 
    • a curriculum for life rather than league tables and too much emphasis on exams,

    • school curriculums that include the arts, sciences, history, and languages – as well as social skills, emotional literacy, outdoor activity, citizenship, environmental education, and practical life skills.

  • Continue to support and develop the School Well Being Service, which supports schools dealing with what has been described as an ‘epidemic’ of mental health problems amongst children and young people.
  • Provide as much support as possible to the central support services the Council provides to schools, including Special Educational Needs services and access to musical education and tuition for all children.
  • Re-instate a ‘Sustainable Schools Network’ in the city to encourage environmental awareness and community building e.g. through grow and eat schemes, waste reduction and recycling and working in local communities and green spaces and with ‘Solar for Schools’.
  • Ensure that there is adequate provision for new schools on development sites in the Local Plan and ensure all schools have active School Travel Plans.
  • Work with partners (i.e. University of York, St. John’s University, York College and Askham Bryan Agricultural College) to ensure access to high quality further and higher education and the provision of high quality vocational training.
  • Continue to support York Learning to deliver a wide range of adult education courses and ensure access for people on low incomes.

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