For Lowestoft’s high schools to be bottom of the Suffolk league table of GCSE results is bad enough, but when Suffolk itself is near the bottom of the national education league table, it is a matter of serious concern to everyone who cares about children and the future of our town.
The grim statistics revealed in last week’s Journal show the failure of Tory controlled Suffolk County Council’s ‘Raising the Bar’ initiative, following on from its botched reorganisation of schools in this area, for which so many of our youngsters have paid a high price in educational under achievement. And these poor results raise again the question of why millions have been spent by the government on creating Beccles Free School that very few people wanted, when Lowestoft’s struggling high schools clearly need more support. (By the way, Sir John Leman High School in Beccles had excellent exam results.)
However, there is another angle to this sad story. Yes, our schools need more resources and need to attract more high quality teachers, but there is something else that affects pupil achievement and that is motivation. Years ago, youngsters worked hard at school in the knowledge that if they obtained qualifications they would most likely find a good job. Sadly for so many of our young people today this is not the case. There are just not the jobs out there, especially better quality jobs, and they know it. It’s even worse for school leavers, and youth unemployment has soared in the past four years. Some school students live in homes where there parents have rarely had full time employment.
So WDC has a part to play in all this too. Jobs have to be at the heart of all the council’s policies. But sadly, the Tories’ Area Action Plan is focused on housing at the expense of employment. Yes, we need more housing, but without jobs, local people wont be able to afford to buy or rent them. That’s why a Labour council would review the AAP and put job creation first. It’s a vital part of building a better future for our school students and giving them hope.