A PLAN to improve education in Oxford’s primary schools faces its first test when headteacher support is gauged.
The city council’s £1.4million “Oxford Challenge” aims to improve attainment levels at schools in some of the city’s most disadvantaged areas.
The authority is not responsible for education but aims to boost achievement in reading, English and maths to 10 per cent above the national average.
It comes after achievement in literacy at Oxford’s primary schools was revealed to be well below average.
To do it, the council will invest cash over a four-year period until 2016, providing additional teacher training and promoting new ways to engage pupils.
City board member for young people Steve Curran said: “The actual programme we’re trying to do is going extremely well.
“It’s aiming to achieve incredibly high targets, and if we do reach those high targets, this city really will be world class.”
He said an organisation called KRM had been selected as the company to run the project and on Wednesday schools will be given the chance to find out more.
KRM is a psychological and educational research-based consultancy.
It claims to be “dedicated to raising academic standards through researching the impact of psychological theory and instructional principles on the teaching and learning process”.
Council chief executive Peter Sloman said the real test of the scheme would be whether or not schools took part.
He said: “I think it’s worth members reflecting on what we’re trying to achieve.
“It will be a real challenge to see if schools want to do it, because we’re not the education authority, we’re not the county council.
“We have just got to put it on the table and really hope that some schools decide to take it up, but we can’t make them.”
The programme has been cautiously supported by the Lib Dem group on the city council, but leader Jean Fooks said there were still some concerns.
She said: “It seems rather odd to have the county working on one scheme in some schools, and the city funding a different scheme.
“No-one disagrees that attainment isn’t good enough, but I’m not quite sure how good the co-operation is between city and county.”
Oxfordshire County Council , which is the education authority for the area, has also launched a bid to improve attainment, but will focus on all county primary schools, not just those in disadvantaged areas of Oxford.