WORK to improve thousands of school pupils’ education outcomes will become a key priority for a borough-wide alliance over the next three years, it was revealed this week.

A refreshed strategy was agreed by Barnsley Council’s ruling cabinet members on Wednesday after councillors discussed the plight of the town’s 92 state-funded schools and 246 registered early years settings.

Barnsley - which ranks as the 60th most-deprived local authority out of 317 - performs well up to the end of key stage one, which relates to five to seven year olds, but by key stage four’s GCSEs, it is lower than similar authorities and the national average.

English and maths are identified as particular subjects of weakness and the body responsible for improving attainment - Barnsley Schools’ Alliance - will work to address the imbalance over the next three years through the new strategy.

The report said: “This will ensure regional disparities in the range of outcomes for children and young people are within a local education system that promotes inclusion through evidence-based good practice, together with consistent school policies that accord with oncoming local and national policy developments.

“These factors, together with the need to monitor and evaluate the medium-term impact of these reforms account for the three-year duration of the strategy, will be reviewed annually to ensure that we continue to be effective.

“At the same time it will enable young children to achieve a good level of development at the early years foundation stage and strengthen transition arrangements so that children making the switch from early years to primary school are school-ready.

“That the same applies to their transition from the primary to secondary phase and onto further education pathways and the transition to adulthood.”

Education bosses want to boost the number of schools achieving a good or outstanding rating from Ofsted, reduce the amount of exclusions, boost reading and writing standards and see a hike in pupils securing GCSE grades of between five and nine.

Coun Trevor Cave, cabinet spokesperson for children’s services, added: “We want all children and young people to aim high and excel in their education, so that more students can go on to higher-level studies and learn at the best institutions.

“Having access to high quality educational establishments is our ultimate objective ensuring that all settings offer a broad and balanced curriculum which provide a more enriching experience to all Barnsley learners.

“More recently we’ve been fortunate in achieving cultural capital investment.

“In turn we want to ensure that all Barnsley students have access to aspire to be the best they can be both academically and in the wider areas of their lives, though rich extracurricular activities, trips and visits.

“This is something we are deeply passionate about - we know through the power of partnership working that collectively we can achieve so much more when there is a willingness to pull together in the same direction.

“The Barnsley Schools’ Alliance is the driver to ensure we make this happen.”