In 1997 the newly appointed prime minister, Tony Blair, visited the struggling Aylesbury Estate in Southwark and promised there would be no more forgotten people. Fourteen years later, the prospects of the Aylesbury residents have been greatly improved, highlighted by a recent visit of Labour leader, Ed Miliband. He was “most impressed” by the award-winning Michael Faraday Primary School – rated outstanding by Ofsted – and its £12 million building in the heart of the Aylesbury. This achievement is a representative snapshot of just how far Southwark’s educational achievement has come in the past five years, thanks in large part to the considerable funding being invested. Most significant is the £200 million Building Schools for the Future (BSF) investment that Southwark has managed to retain. Fifteen schools are benefiting from the BSF programme, of which two are complete, seven are under way and the rest are due to sign contracts in late 2011. Councillor Catherine McDonald, the council’s cabinet member for children’s services, explains the impact of this level of funding: “We’re reporting the biggest improvement in our history. If you look at last year’s GCSE results, Southwark was the most improved borough in the country, and for the first time is in the top half of the table.” A-level results are up on the previous year and above the national average. With an average of grade B, it was the borough’s bestever result. “That’s a massive achievement,” says McDonald. “Southwark education is definitely on the up. Now nearly three quarters of our primary schools get a good or outstanding Ofsted rating. In our secondary schools, it’s 11 out of 16. By investing in these new facilities, we show young people that they are valued, and give them the very best resources from which they can make the most of all sorts of opportunities. We also engage with the community, which is excited by the refurbished buildings because it’s a real sign that the area is on the up.”
“Southwark education is definitely on the up ... by investing in these new facilities, we show young people that they are valued” www.southwark.gov.uk
8 winter 2011/12 45
A high profile, high-quality business publication, Southwark magazine covers every aspect of Southwark Council's 12 year development program...