THE state of Swindon’s secondary schools got another bashing from Ofsted’s regional director yesterday despite the town’s primary school results being some of the most improved in the country.

The comments were made after the education regulator published its annual report, which gave an overview of how schools in the south west performed in the past year.

Last year, Swindon is no stranger to coming under fire from Ofsted’s south west director Bradley Simmons as last year, he published a scathing letter into how the town’s schools were failing pupils at every level.

Now he has said despite much progress being made, more needs to be done.

Mr Simmons said: “Parents in the South West will be pleased to know that the proportion of good or better primary schools remains strong in comparison with other parts of the country. “When I wrote to the council last year, what people would have been very aware of is the pushback from councillors who simply refused to believe that schools weren’t doing anything but their best. There is now an acceptance that everyone needs to work together to make sure every child gets the best possible education from early years right through to the age of 18.

“I had written to the council a number of times and was disappointed by their responses. We seemed to get defensive responses from them but they have now moved on from that.

“The work certainly isn’t done but we can say that Swindon has made a start and in primary schools, a good start. When you look at my letter and the furore it caused, people are starting to think that something needed to happen.”

Based on the provisional data, Swindon is among the best in the region for its primary school results in reading and maths.

Schools have also made great progress in addressing key failings in the KS1 phonics figures – something that Mr Simmons raised last year.

But just 64 per cent of secondary schools were judged good or outstanding back in August compared to 90 per cent of primary schools.

“I am slightly less hopeful about secondary education,” Mr Simmons said. “It is really good that people have admitted that there’s more to do in Swindon but we are seeing results from 16-year-olds that are disappointing.“What I want to see growing is the participation of the council and multi-academy trusts to improve secondary schools and grow the capacity in the town. We are beginning to see that but more needs to be done.”

However, he also said he had been heartened by work undertaken to improve provision for 11-year-olds.

Despite his critiques, Mr Simmons said: “It has been a privilege to spend much time in Swindon this year visiting schools and I have been heartened by the work undertaken to improve outcomes for 11 year-olds. Indeed, the vast improvement seen are a testament to the hard work of pupils and teachers in Swindon.”

“What we are seeing is that Swindon has made the biggest jump in the country with its scores and we congratulate the schools for that.”

Coun Fionuala Foley, Swindon Borough Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services and School Attainment, said: “I think we’ll have to agree to disagree with Mr Simmons on the content of his very critical letter last year. Our primary results this year justified much of what we said in response at the time and there is little point in going over old ground once again.

“However, what I will say is that I’m absolutely delighted he has used his annual report to publicly praise our hardworking pupils and teachers and they can be justifiably proud of their efforts in achieving some of the best primary results in the region.

“At secondary level we’ve always said there is a lot of work to do and that remains the case, but I have been extremely heartened by the desire shown by governors and teachers to raise standards.” in our schools.

“The Swindon Challenge Board has brought senior leaders in education together and there is a real willingness among all our schools to work in partnership and share good practice, which will ultimately help to improve educational outcomes.

“Our goal now is to build on this encouraging start so that Mr Simmons continues to say more positive things about education in Swindon.”