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Suffolk: Education chief pledges more improvement as Suffolk is still ranked near bottom of the class for test results for 11-year-olds

PUBLISHED: 12:36 30 August 2014 | UPDATED: 12:36 30 August 2014

Lisa Chambers, the cabinet member for education and skills at Suffolk County Council, has set a target of exceeding the national average of SATs exams in the three Rs by 2017.

Lisa Chambers, the cabinet member for education and skills at Suffolk County Council, has set a target of exceeding the national average of SATs exams in the three Rs by 2017.


The head of education in Suffolk last night pledged to overhaul standards in the classroom after the latest primary school results confirmed the county is still one of the worst-performing authorities in England for attainment levels among 11-year-olds.

Some 73% of 11-year-olds in Suffolk attained at least a Level 4 grade – the standard expected of the age group – in reading, writing and mathematics in the national curriculum tests, known as SATs, this year.

It is a rise from 70% last year, meaning more children in Suffolk are reaching the standards expected of them in the three Rs by the time they leave primary school.

However, the average for all schools in England increased by a slightly higher amount, from 75% to 79%.

It means whereas Suffolk was only 5% behind the national average last year, it is now 6% adrift.

Last night, Lisa Chambers, the cabinet member for education and skills at Suffolk County Council, issued a staunch defence of the authority’s flagship reforms, dubbed Raising the Bar.

She revealed the authority has set a target of exceeding the national average by 2017 and insisted a plan agreed with headteachers will achieve this.

This year’s score of 73% in the SATs exams means Suffolk is now ranked as the joint seventh-worst local authority for attainment at Key Stage Two in England. Suffolk was ranked the joint fifth-worst last year. Suffolk is below every London borough. The Government data is provisional, meaning positions could change.

Ipswich MP Ben Gummer said the results are an “embarrassing indictment” of education in Suffolk, but stressed the county council is showing a greater urgency to boost results. Mrs Chambers said: “It is very encouraging to see that more of Suffolk’s 11-year-olds are achieving the levels expected of them in reading, writing and maths. I would like to congratulate the teachers, heads, governors, parents – and of course the children – for their hard work and dedication.

“We knew Suffolk would not reach the national average this year. I don’t think anyone expected that to happen so quickly. But we do have a detailed plan, developed and agreed with Suffolk schools, to accelerate progress and get the county above the national average in the next three years. We will continue to work with, and challenge, schools to drive up educational attainment. That is the direction we set with our Raising the Bar programme and is now what education professionals across the county are united around.”

Her remarks come after a damning Ofsted report last December found 33% of children in Suffolk do not attend a primary school rated “good” or “outstanding” – affecting 30,000 pupils.

Broken down, the SATs results found girls adhered to tradition by outperforming boys. Some 77% of girls attained the three Rs, compared to 69% of boys – and 36% of boys failed the standard grammar, punctuation and spelling test.

Mr Gummer said: “This is an embarrassing indictment of what is going wrong with education in Suffolk. We are making progress but it is still slower than the rest of the country.

“The gap between Suffolk and the rest of England is not closing, which is what we need to see. (But) there have been some fantastic results from some schools in my constituency that until recently had been written off (and) my most recent meetings with the county council have shown a urgency that was not there before.

“They are prepared to be tough to force change. We are improving but we are still bottom of the class. The really hard work is ahead of us.”


  • "Lisa Chambers, the cabinet member for education and skills at Suffolk County Council, has set a target of exceeding the national average of SATs exams in the three Rs by 2017" And if Suffolk fails to achieve this target will she, and the council leader who appointed her to this position, do the honourable thing and resign? Don't hold your breath.

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    Monday, September 1, 2014

  • Regrettably, the current incumbents at SCC have not got a clue. Their whole 'raising the bar' initiative is based on the improvement model at Hackney Borough Council. The demographics of this area are vastly different from Hackney... Its an inner city area with a much higher level of funding (several times higher) than Suffolk, and that's just for starters. And look out of the window of the Hackney school - you will see Canary Wharf on one side and the Olympic Park on the other - plenty of aspiration there. Where is the aspiration in Lowestoft and the surrounding area? SCC use the wrong model and don't provide the right support. How many good teachers left because of the badly organised SOR programme??? If you have policies in place that are unable to attract inspirational teachers, what hope do the kids have?

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    Monday, September 1, 2014

  • This state of affairs was entirely predictable. When Suffolk under Rachael Black dismantled its advisory service and 'privatised' in service training. Suffolk used to be renowned for its good schools whose loyalty to the effective support from the LEA meant that far fewer schools opted out of LEA control than other counties. All this was methodically destroyed by mismanagement in Ipswich.

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    Sunday, August 31, 2014

  • I believe the next SCC elections are in 2017 but probably before the results for that year are published. Will the whole council give a commitment that they will all stand down should they fail to achieve the promised improvements by then? Children only get one chance going through school so the ongoing failure of the county councillors of Suffolk to deliver education to an acceptable standard is unforgivable. Don't suppose it will be long before we are told that someone else has taken over the education role with the usual back slapping for the excellent job that the present portfolio holder has achieved. It's time somebody in public office was held to account for the present failings. I won't hold my breath.

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    Sunday, August 31, 2014

  • We took our 4 children out of Sufffolk schools 6 months ago and it was the best decision we have ever made. Home educating has given the children so much more freedom to express themselves and enjoy their learning. We have so much fun together. No more bullies, stress, trying to keep up etc. They are so much happier and calmer and don't have such an attitude like they used to! Huge home school networks are out there and a great support. I know not everybody is in a position to home educate but if you are I fully recommend it and as long as circumstances permit intend to never look back.

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    Saturday, August 30, 2014

  • Yet another year of poor SATs and GCSE results. When and who is going to change this abysmal state of affairs? Our children's futures are being compromised by an overpaid and ineffective group of SCC councillors. Sack the lot of them and bring in some qualified people from the world of business and make them accountable. No improvement, no job, that's the real world. I really am fed up listening to so much hot air from these people. I tried hard to interpret Lisa Chamber's promises as to how she was going to improve Secondary education in Suffolk but without success!!! Just hot air as it has been for many years now. Someone needs to get these people off their backsides and into the real world instead of their cosy little offices where they just generate hot air.

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    Saturday, August 30, 2014

  • Suffolk "is below every London Borough" is much more than an embarrassing indictment Mr. Gummer. It is disgraceful reflection on SCC's Education personnel who continue to fail the children of this county. It is doubtful that children unfortunate enough to attend such schools will have any chance of success in the competitive employment and work environment. It would be interesting to know where Suffolk sits in the league of teenage pregnancies and benefit payments. No wonder the county's private schools are thriving.

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    Saturday, August 30, 2014

  • Perhaps, just for once, we should look to football to set us an example and when results aren't forthcoming should turn the spotlight on the management and seek to replace them with immediate effect.

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    dale craven

    Saturday, August 30, 2014

  • If SCC are 'showing a greater urgency to boost results' as Mr Gummer thinks, why will it take until 2017 to reach the national average - that's 3 years away! What is the 'plan'? Do we need to employ more qualified teachers? If so, bite the bullet and spend the money now because our children and my grandchildren don't deserve to be educated in a system which settles for these sorts of abysmal results for another 3 years.

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    Saturday, August 30, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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