12 May 2015

Northamptonshire County Council has awarded schools a share of a £1million fund for projects to improve young people’s aspirations.

The cash has been made available as part of the county council’s innovative Race To The Top strategy, which aims to make Northamptonshire one of the highest performing counties for education by 2020.

How many bids were successful?

A total of 22 bids have been successful and these will now work with the University of Northampton, businesses and voluntary organisations in a variety of projects to improve standards.

Council leader Jim Harker said: “Nothing like this has been tried in the UK before and this is a pioneering initiative which encourages innovation and partnership with business.

“In 2015 it is no longer acceptable that any school is failing our pupils and that is why we, as the county council, have taken decisive action to tackle this.

“By 2020, we will aim to be amongst the best performing counties in the country for education.”

Race To The Top was unveiled by the county council in February this year and was prepared with collaboration with the Department for Education.

The strategy has three main strands:

  • To identify and intervene in schools across the county which are judged to be failing or in need of improvement. These schools will be given time to produce improvement plans, with a promise of local authority intervention if they fail to improve.
  • An invitation to all schools to apply for a share of the £1million improvement fund for projects to improve young people’s aspirations. The bids will be assessed by a panel, including representatives from the business sector via Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership and Northampton University, and the Regional Schools Commissioner.
  • Sixteen new schools will be needed in the county over the next 12 years and the council will be looking for a number of top quality sponsors, with clear track records of success, to collaborate with the LEA in providing these schools.

Top-performing schools will be asked to share good practice, grants and bursaries will be offered to schools seeking to improve, and schools will work with businesses to provide mentoring and work placement opportunities.

The strategy will establish a Northamptonshire model of educational excellence, which includes:

  • Using the latest research on pupil performance to create a new format for the school day, looking at start times, number of breaks and longer days
  • Setting uncompromising targets for all pupils
  • Delivering good and outstanding teaching, particularly in science, technology, engineering and maths to improve future employment prospects
  • Working with voluntary and independent organisations to provide after-school clubs based on excellence in sport, culture and work-readiness

Cllr Matt Golby, Cabinet Member for Learning, Skills & Education, said: “I’m delighted to make the announcement that these schools will receive the grants to help bolster the ambition to make Northamptonshire one of the highest performing counties for education by 2020.

“This is just the start of a long journey of improvement but I am confident that by all the partners involved working together we will be able to achieve results.”

List of successful bids:

  • Lings Primary School as part of the Northampton primary Academy Trust partnership
  • Weston Favell CE Primary School
  • Wren Spinney Community Special School
  • Hospital and Outreach Education (Pupil Referral Unit)
  • Sponne School – lead school in The SWAN Teaching School Alliance
  • Huxlow Science College
  • Geddington School
  • Upton Meadows Primary School
  • Campion School & Language College
  • Lodge Park Academy
  • Corby Business Academy & Kettering Science Academy
  • Kings Heath Academy
  • Parklands Primary School
  • Grange School, Daventry
  • Northgate School Arts College & The Bee Hive
  • Clipston Endowed VC Primary School
  • The Ferrers School
  • Northampton School for Boys
  • Pen Green Nursery School and Integrated Centre for Children and Families; Pen Green Research, Training and Development Base; Pen Green Teaching School Alliance
  • Duston Eldean Primary School
  • The Education Fellowship Multi-Academy Trust - Warwick Primary School, Wellingborough
  • Northampton Academy