STANDARDS of education in Oldham have been of concern for "a number of years", Ofsted has said as it launched its annual report today.

The percentage of primary school graded good or outstanding was joint second lowest at the start of the new academic year.

The North West average stood at 90 per cent and the England average is 87 per cent.

Oldham fared better for the number of secondary schools judged good or better ­— 67 per cent ­— which is in line with the North West average.

Education chiefs said they are working to raise educational standards

Andrew Cook, Ofsted Director for the North West, said: "In many parts of the North West children are getting a good or outstanding education. Nine out of 10 primary schools in this region are good or better. "As a former primary school headteacher, I know the importance of children getting off to a good start.

“There are some areas such as Knowsley, Blackpool and Oldham where we have had concerns for a number of years and other areas such as Salford and Bury where we have seen a marked decline over time. "When it comes to children's services, too many children are not getting a good deal.

"We introduced a new way of inspecting at the beginning of this school year. It has a new focus on the curriculum and behaviour - the kind of issues that we know really matter to parents. And our inspection reports are written with parents in mind - telling them what it is like to be a child in school."

Cllr Shaid Mushtaq, Oldham Council Cabinet Member for Education and Skills, said: “As a council we are working with all schools across Oldham to continually raise education standards.

"Just last week we announced that nine Oldham primary schools had been given a ‘good rating’ in the latest Autumn Term Ofsted inspections and of these three had previously been in the ‘Required Improvement’ category. This will improve the overall average in Oldham for primary schools rated good or outstanding up to 82 per cent.

“What was particularly satisfying was that the recent Ofsted Inspections focused on the real substance of education: the curriculum. Inspectors spent less time looking at test data, and more time looking at what is taught and how it is taught. They considered how schools achieved their outcomes.

"Significant investment is being made in schools across Oldham and we will continue to work with a range of partners to ensuring our children are being given the best start in life in terms of education and learning.”