COUNCILLORS agreed a plan to tackle declining education standards in the borough’s schools last night.

Conservative councillors blamed the ruling Labour group for “letting down” children and families.

This comes as Bury’s schools were ranked among the worst in the North West on some measures.

A recent OFSTED report also found that children with special educational needs and disabilities in particular were being failed by schools.

Tory leader James Daly described the report as 'abysmal'.

He said: “Our education system is in a dire state in this borough. We must come up with a plan quickly. We must work closely together to deliver that plan."

His colleague, Cllr Bob Caserta, said the Conservative motion was not about party politics but he told the Labour group to take responsibility for the situation.

He referred to a report by former education boss Paul Delbridge-Smith which described the education sector in Bury as "uncertain, unclear and unsure".

Cllr Caserta urged the town hall to confront teachers and headteachers in an effort to improve standards of education.

He said: “We’ve reached a stage where we have got to stand up and start talking to our staff.”

The Tories wanted education bosses and the council’s chief executive to report next month on immediate steps that the local authority will take to improve standards.

A report by the interim assistant director of education would also identify which schools are failing and highlight what emergency steps must be taken by the council in those cases.

They also wanted to create a cross-party committee of councillors to oversee the transformation of education in the borough.

Under the Tory plans, this committee would meet every fortnight and be briefed on progress by education chiefs but the Labour group proposed that a working group meets every term instead.

The Labour group also amended the motion so that the cabinet member for children and families will be attend scrutiny meetings alongside council directors.

The portfolio holder, Cllr Tamoor Tariq, would agree the agenda at the scrutiny committee.

He said: “I’m willing to look at all options to make sure that Bury once again becomes a leading authority."

Other Labour councillors blamed cuts to school funding for the slip in standards amounting to around £500 per pupil, according to Cllr Lucy Smith.

A Labour group spokesman said: “Once again, the Conservatives are taking local people for fools. Ask any headteacher or teacher working in the education system in Bury and they will probably point to a lack of funding in the context of increasing demands.

“What Cllr Daly should be doing is working with head teachers and teachers, not publicly challenging their record despite them working in an increasingly difficult situation. Bury Council looking to do just that by working with head teachers, parents and schools to help drive up standards in these difficult times.”

Radcliffe First councillor James Mason said he was "shocked" to councillors take party political stances on a such an important issue.

The Conservatives accepted the Labour changes and the motion was carried unanimously.