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Education expert stands for council
AN education campaigner is standing in next month’s city council elections hoping he can help to improve pupils’ performance in Oxford’s primary schools.
He is standing in the North ward for the Liberal Democrats against the Green Party’s Sushila Dhall, Labour’s James Fry and Conservative Samantha Mandrup.
Although he has unsuccessfully contested wards in the city for the party in the 1990s, Prof Howson said it was his concern about educational standards for Oxford's youngest children that inspired him to seek office. Oxfordshire County Council is the local education authority but Prof Howson said: “I am seriously concerned about the situation in education in the city.
“Although education is technically a county responsibility, the city council is showing a greater degree of interest than they have done in the past since I highlighted the evidence.
“If the city council is going to put more than £1m into education over the next three years, I want to make sure it's spent wisely.”
Eighteen months ago, Prof Howson shone the spotlight on how poorly the city's seven-year-olds performed in reading and writing at Key Stage 1 tests, with figures showing Oxford children came bottom out of 350 district council areas.
The most recent results showed scant improvement, with the city still coming bottom for writing.
Prof Howson said: “If elected, even as a member of the opposition, I would hope to to be able to contribute to that development.
“A lot of it would not be party political, in the sense that we’re all trying to achieve the same result. It’s for the good of the city, irrespective of who is controlling the council.”
The current Liberal Democrat city councillor for the ward, Clark Brundin, is standing down after four years on the council.
Profiles of candidates for the elections in Oxford, Cherwell and West Oxfordshire on May 3 will appear in the Oxford Mail in the week starting Monday, April 30. Live election results will be posted online on the night