Essex

Council 'failed' pupils at Essex school claims ex-chairman

An ex-chairman of a primary school in Essex listed the worst in England has criticised a council for failing to invest in pupils when extra traveller children began enrolling.

At Crays Hill School in Billericay, just 7% of pupils achieved Level 4 in English and none reached Level 4 maths.

Andy Peake said more funds were needed at the school when large numbers of traveller children became pupils.

Essex County Council said Crays Hill was working to improve education.

The school, which had 15 pupils in Year 6 at the time of the tests, serves the travellers' site at Dale Farm.

'Mobile classrooms'

In October, illegal parts of the site in Crays Hill were cleared following a decade-long row over unauthorised plots.

Mr Peake, who is presently chairman of the Ramsden Crays Parish Council, said that in the last decade the number of pupils from the traveller community increased dramatically and now nearly all the pupils were from the Dale Farm site.

He said that many traveller children had a poor attendance record in education before coming to the school and that he had sought extra support from the county council, but this was refused.

"I applied for more funding and had an argument with the council. I even suggested some mobile classrooms. The county council refused to give us any more," he said.

He added that teachers had to spend more time with the traveller children and less time with other pupils which had led to a mass exodus of local village children from the school.

The roll has fallen from about 200 to 100.

"It is not the fault of the head teacher or the teachers, they worked with what they had," he said.

'Making progress'

Mr Peake said the council had to work with the school and local community to boost education at the school.

"It's a question of all of us trying to pull together. We have got to try and work with the head teacher."

Stephen Castle, the council's cabinet member for education, said: "Crays Hill Primary School currently has a board of governors who do everything possible to ensure that the school is adequately resourced and making progress.

"The school was last inspected by Ofsted in 2009 and was rated a good school with some outstanding aspects to its work, highlighting in particular the warm and welcoming atmosphere; the outstanding support and guidance and excellent leadership and good teaching that is dedicated to improving pupils' achievement.

"Essex County Council has complete confidence in the head teacher and the governors who are hardworking, inspirational and determined to provide the best education for the pupils. "

A spokesperson for Crays Hill Primary School said: "We are sad that none of our pupils achieved expected levels in the Key Stage 2 SATs, and it is something that the school works constantly to improve."

Essex also has one of the best schools in the county.

St Margaret's Church of England School in Halstead tops the BBC list of best performing schools from figures provided by the government.

The school saw 100% of pupils achieving Level 4 in maths and English.

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