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Suffolk: Council bosses must take ‘full responsibility’ after scathing Ofsted report – Graham White

PUBLISHED: 07:42 05 March 2014 | UPDATED: 07:57 05 March 2014

Graham White, he secretary of the Suffolk branch of the National Union of Teachers, insisted Suffolk County Council must take full responsibility for falling educational attainment after a damning Ofsted report.

Graham White, he secretary of the Suffolk branch of the National Union of Teachers, insisted Suffolk County Council must take full responsibility for falling educational attainment after a damning Ofsted report.

The secretary of the Suffolk branch of the National Union of Teachers insisted Suffolk County Council must take “full responsibility” for falling educational attainment.

Graham White made the comments after a damning Ofsted report heavily criticised the authority over weak leadership and poor support to schools, prompting Ipswich MP Ben Gummer to lead calls for renewed action.

Lisa Chambers, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for education, skills and young people, admitted the report made for “sobering reading” but insisted improved action was already under way to address the main areas of concerns raised in the Ofsted report.

But Mr White said: “You either value education or you don’t, and I have concerns how seriously the authority is valuing education. I think there is a failure in leadership.

“Our schools need additional resources – support for teaching assistants, English as an additional language, professional development – but the authority has cut them back in a move which is not going to raise standards.

“Suffolk County Council cut the learning and improvement service by 50% several years ago and has just done so again, so the report is not surprising.

“The policymakers at the authority made those decisions and must take full responsibility for where education is at the moment. It is their fault. They cannot pass the blame on to people trying their best to improve things in schools, like teachers and headteachers.”

He called for a to return to an educational system used “decades” ago in which former headteachers and teachers worked in high-level posts at the authority, claiming such an approach drove the county in to the “top 10%” of performing schools in the county.

Meanwhile, the headteacher at Suffolk’s top performing state school has said the report on the failures of the authority was “not unexpected” – claiming it “lacks initiative” to raise standards of education.

Philip Hurst, the headteacher at Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham, believes Ofsted has “correctly analysed some of the reasons for Suffolk’s relative decline” from its position 20 years ago.

“Fortunately Thomas Mills High School has kept focus on school improvement by concentrating on what matters,” he said.

“As a result, pupils have made exceptional progress.

“The challenge though, to both local authorities and Ofsted, is how to ensure the best people can provide external support without schools losing excellent leaders and teachers.”

Mr Hurst said Suffolk County Council was correct in considering the Hackney Learning Trust model for “accelerated school improvement” but called for a greater focus on retaining and recruiting “the best people”.

“Irrespective of the structures, pupils need the best teachers in front of them,” he said.

“The strategic challenge is how to ensure everyone is pulling in the right direction.”

Despite the bleak outlook portrayed by Ofsted, Mr Hurst remains confident the county can regain its status as a top performing county for education.

“I would urge people not to lose sight of the fact that Suffolk is still an excellent place to live and work and for children to grow up,” he said.

“Suffolk should be ambitious and aim that by 2024 it is one of the highest achieving counties in the country.”

A man arrested in connection with an incident that saw armed police descend on Ipswich town centre last night will face no further action.

A brave Kesgrave teenager who lost a leg to cancer hit headlines for passing her driving test a year early but she may now face losing that independence – and her beloved car.

Jeremy Hunt has come under fire for a post he put on social media following a private visit to Ipswich Hospital.

The man who spearheaded efforts to build a northern by-pass across Ipswich 25 years ago has backed new plans to build the road that are now emerging.

A charity chief executive has spoken of ambitions to support the overburdened NHS in the future by extending its offer for young people.

Test your knowledge on our county by taking part in our quiz.

Police are growing “increasingly concerned” for the welfare of a missing 52-year-old Suffolk man.

Bosses at the Eastern Enterprise Hub and University of Suffolk hope gaming and technology students will be inspired to pursue their games ideas, after it emerged the gaming industry is one of the fastest growing locally.

A Shotley father with five drink-driving convictions has been jailed for 36 weeks after taking his mother’s car without consent and crashing it into a hedge.

Snow is falling across Suffolk and Essex today, but weather experts predict it will soon turn into rain.

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