Ipswich MP Ben Gummer

Ipswich: Gummer says ‘No excuse is good enough’ for Suffolk’s education slump

Monday, January 28, 2013
12.28 PM

SUFFOLK will be led out of its “shameful” education slump by the schools of Ipswich - that’s the message from the town’s MP.

Ben Gummer was speaking after a visit to the town by Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, head of Ofsted.

Sir Michael was meeting with a cohort of town headteachers at Copleston High School to talk about the changes Ofsted is making to help headteachers and the challenges they face in raising standards.

Mr Gummer, who organised the visit, said the session had proved very useful for everyone involved.

He said: “You cannot say anything else other than the results that we have had through are shameful and no excuse is good enough.

“Of course there are reasons, many reasons, but you can’t make excuses for it because every time we do that we are failing a year group.

“So the question is how do we turn it around - that’s why I am pleased to show Sir Michael two schools in Ipswich; St Mark’s, which is an ‘outstanding’ school and as you go around it is patently outstanding. Then I took him to Copleston, which I think probably wasn’t performing to its full potential a few years ago but under Shaun Common is doing amazing things and this is a school that’s on the up and that’s why I was so pleased to take him here.

“He recognised both those judgements of those schools. We’ve got a very strong set of leaders in Ipswich and they are determined to lead the county out of the place that it is at the moment and I am completely confident they will.

“Can we turn this around? Yes - I know we can and I know we’ll be led by Ipswich.”

Sir Michael, who took up his past a year ago, said the quality of leadership and teaching was key to driving progress and that parents and the county council had to play their part.

He said: “The results are pretty poor and the local authority has got to look to itself to see what they can do to support heads and challenge heads to do better than they are doing at the moment. All heads throughout England face the same challenges. The challenges here are the same as any other part of England but if you look at the demographics in Suffolk, if you look at the numbers of children on free school meals, it’s not as challenging as elsewhere in other parts of the country which are doing better. Therefore Suffolk needs to look at the reasons why standards aren’t as high as they should be.”