SCHOOLS will no longer receive free expert advice to help raise standards to save the council nearly a quarter of a million pounds.

Primary schools will now have to buy in the help from the local education authority as figures show 40 per cent of children are leaving year six unable to master the 3Rs. Education bosses say they have to make “considerable savings” and, to save £230,000, will be running a traded service.

Results for this year’s Key Stage Two national curriculum tests were released which show that 60 per cent of children leave school reaching the expected standard in reading, writing and maths.

The figure was in line with the national and local average. A breakdown of results show that 78 per cent passed their grammar, punctuation and spelling, which was one point higher than the England average. That figure was 75 per cent for maths, in line with the national average. But the standard of reading was lower than both the North West average and England average of 75 percent, standing at just 67 per cent.

A council spokesman said: “The council runs a primary school improvement service that has strong, positive relationships with schools in the borough. In Bolton, 96 per cent of primary schools are rated good or outstanding by Ofsted and the team works with the schools to maintain these standards, in addition to delivering support to those that may be experiencing difficulties. They also offer continuous professional development to teachers, headteachers and governing bodies.

“The majority of the support has been provided to schools free of charge. However, due to increasing pressures on the council’s budget and the need to make considerable savings, the council has agreed to develop the primary schools improvement service into a traded service and charge schools for the services they receive. Each school which opts in to the arrangement will be offered core services at a fixed cost, with the option of ‘topping up’ with additional support on a day-by-day basis if required.” The new service model is expected to save the department £230,000 as a result of the income generated from schools, combined with a reduction in ancillary costs. We are committed to maintaining high standards in our primary schools and we hope schools will choose to continue to benefit from our expertise.”