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Ofsted wants faster school improvement in Suffolk

11/11/2013 Joanna
Ofsted has warned Suffolk County Council it needs to do more to help primary and secondary teachers to raise standards in their schools.

Back in September, the education watchdog carried out targeted inspections of 33 Suffolk schools, as well as conducting telephone surveys with a further 25 schools.

It deemed that two of the schools inspected had retained their 'outstanding' status, while another 13 were rated as 'good', of which two had previously been rated 'outstanding' and two 'satisfactory'.

A further 12 schools were ranked as 'in need of improvement', 11 of which had received this rating before, while one had declined from 'good'.

Finally, six schools were found by inspectors to be 'inadequate', five of which had previously been rated 'satisfactory' and one 'good'.

Ofsted's regional director for the East of England Sean Harford has now written to Suffolk County Council to express concern over its schools' poor performance relative to regional and national standards and at the lack of improvement they have exhibited.

He remarked: "From subsequent discussions with your team, we are aware that the outcomes of the focused inspections largely did not come as a surprise to you.

"It raises the question, therefore, of why the local authority has not done more to effect improvement."

Mr Harford recognised some strengths demonstrated by the council, noting that schools are aware of its 'Raising the Bar' scheme to improve performance through collaboration between schools, and identified some individual successes in raising standards.

Yet he also identified widespread scepticism about the initiative among many head teachers, who he said feel it does not place sufficient emphasis on the need for high quality teaching and learning.

Other criticisms included a dearth of support for driving improvements in teaching through continuing professional development, a lack of challenge to good schools to improve further, and disengagement from the local authority more generally.

Commenting on Mr Harford's recommendations, Councillor Lisa Chambers, Suffolk's cabinet member for education, vowed to take them "very seriously" and act upon Ofsted's advice, insisting that improving education in the county was the council's "top priority".

Posted by Tim ColmanADNFCR-2164-ID-801659207-ADNFCR
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