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Review identifies pathway for Norfolk school improvement

15/11/2013 Joanna
Norfolk County Council has been advised to intensify its efforts to help staff in education jobs improve schools across the local authority area.

Ofsted revealed in June that just 64 per cent of the Norfolk schools it had visited three months earlier were good or better, compared to a national average of 78 per cent.

The following month, Ofsted concluded after an inspection of the council's education services that this owed partly to it taking too long to utilise powers of intervention and only recently starting to formally and robustly challenge its weaker schools.

Subsequently, the local authority commissioned the Isos Partnership, which specialises in supporting public sector improvements, to assess its 'A Good School for Every Norfolk Learner' school improvement strategy.

Now Isos has published its findings, in which it commends the strong intent exhibited by the strategy, such as its focus on increasing local authority intervention through the use of formal powers where necessary.

The review also welcomed the council's emphasis on school-to-school support and governing bodies' responsibility for school improvement, as well as its recognition of the need for change and willingness to learn from external examples.

Going forward, Isos believes the local authority must "shift the narrative from intent to action" and ensure there is sufficient school-to-school support and leadership capacity to meet schools' needs.

Councillor Mick Castle, Norfolk's cabinet member for education and schools, remarked: "This review has been extremely helpful in highlighting the strengths of our strategy and what we need to do to further develop the work we are already doing with schools and academies.

"We have to ensure that there are robust systems in place to both challenge and support schools and that means looking at strengths within the county, as well as looking beyond Norfolk."

The council's more assertive approach has seen it take control of the budgets of eight schools over the past two months, as well as issuing seven schools with warning notices.

Furthermore, it announced in September that it was turning to the London Leadership Strategy for assistance in raising achievement levels in some Norfolk schools.

Posted by Harriet McGowanADNFCR-2164-ID-801661033-ADNFCR
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