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Suffolk: Council slammed for failing schools by damning Ofsted report

PUBLISHED: 10:38 04 March 2014 | UPDATED: 11:33 04 March 2014

Ipswich MP Gummer led renewed calls for Suffolk County Council to overhaul education standards on the day the authority was criticised by Ofsted as ineffective in its leadership and weak in its support to schools.

Ipswich MP Gummer led renewed calls for Suffolk County Council to overhaul education standards on the day the authority was criticised by Ofsted as ineffective in its leadership and weak in its support to schools.

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Efforts to improve the county’s schools by Suffolk County Council have been slammed as wholly ineffective by Ofsted.

In a highly critical letter published today Ofsted accuse the council of damaging the life chances of young people by its failure to challenge and support schools.

The letter is the result of an inspection of the way the local authority is working to improve education.

Suffolk’s primary and secondary school’s are performing well below the national average.

Ofsted found:

* Pupil performance at Key Stages 2 and 4 in Suffolk is well below the national average.

* The council’s strategy to challenge and support schools is weak – this has left some schools languishing in mediocrity.

* Officials have been tardy in addressing poor leadership in council-run schools.

* They have not communicated well with school leaders, many of whom are unaware of the local authority’s role in realising rapid improvement.

* There needs to be better and more consistent use of information by local authority staff to intervene quickly when schools are in trouble.

More positively, Ofsted did find that councillors and senior local authority officials are ambitious and determined to bring about improvements in Suffolk schools.

But not enough has been done to make the improvements that are needed, including the council’s ‘Raising the Bar’ initiative.

Sean Harford, Ofsted Regional Director for the East of England, said: “Too few pupils in Suffolk attend a good or outstanding school, and far too many attend inadequate schools. That is unacceptable.

“It is disappointing to find that Suffolk County Council has been ineffective in the way it supports schools. The local authority has not tackled weaknesses in schools quickly enough. That just isn’t good enough when the prospects for the young people of the county are at stake.

“In the summer of 2012 the council launched its “Raising the Bar” policy as it recognised the need to raise education achievement. But there have been no significant improvements in pupils’ attainment since that time and there is still no clear strategy for how the local authority will make improvements.

“We will keep working with the council and Suffolk schools so that more get to good or better.”

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