Oxford City Council has announced plans to collaborate with the University of Oxford and Oxford Brookes in order to help improve the literacy and numeracy of primary school children in Oxford.

The new ‘Leadership for Learning’ campaign is funded by Oxford City
Council. It will provide training days for staff and governors at eleven Oxford primary schools, as well as inviting parents to partake in a series of public seminars on issues relating to the education of their children.

The programme was initially queried by Craig Simmons, an Oxford City Councillor, who expressed concerns over whether the programme was funding work which is already being carried out by Oxford and Oxford Brookes universities. He was quoted in the Oxford Mail last Friday as saying, “This is a huge issue. The council is strapped for cash and should not be subsidising the university to do things it should be doing anyway.”

Yet after consulting the City Council on the specifics of the programme, Simmons told Cherwell, “Although some of the City Council money WILL go to the universities, it is to be spent on improving educational attainment in primary schools, which would constitute a clear extension of the outreach work.”

He also commented, “I think thatmthis work is essential in widening access to higher education. I very much support the current Oxford City Learning Partnership which is spearheading this work.”

However, Simmons also expressed a continuing concern to ensure that the programme is effective in achieving its stated aims, commenting, “I will, however, continue to liaise with officers to ensure that maximum benefit is gained from the additional City Council investment.”

Anna McIntyre, a college access officer, told Cherwell, ‘‘I think it’s wonderful
that both Oxford universities are getting involved in planting the first seeds of high aspirations in children that would otherwise perhaps not be recognised as needing it until late in their secondary school life, which is too late.”

She qualified this, however, adding, “I feel the council should be doing more to directly help these schools themselves and not just pull in universities to help out: the universities will be using government funds, not their own money.”