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We must all share the blame for schools crisis

PUBLISHED: 16:49 29 January 2013 | UPDATED: 16:49 29 January 2013

Suffolk needs to take action to improve schools

Suffolk needs to take action to improve schools

Archant

WHEN Ofsted head Sir Michael Wilshaw visited Ipswich last week, it was little surprise the media hung on his every word, given the abysmal performance of the county’s schools in league tables.

I don’t have much patience with tables within the county that rank a high school in a relatively deprived part of Ipswich alongside one in a market town whose intake is largely from leafy villages.

But the national league tables are another matter – and for a relatively prosperous county like Suffolk to be so near the bottom, below places like Wigan, Warrington and Liverpool is a disgrace.

And the blame has to be shared by everyone.

Too many schools in Suffolk have had low opinions of the capabilities of their students for too long – and these low opinions have spread through the system.

Too often I’ve seen schools parading A-level students who have got to university at Lincoln, Portsmouth, or east London as their great successes. Where are their students who have got to Oxford, Cambridge, Durham, or UCL?

And why the education officials are going through school reorganisation in the north and the west of the county now, I don’t know.

The three-tier system was a disaster from day one and any politicians with guts and any real understanding of the needs of youngsters would have abolished middle schools 25 years ago when they successfully got rid of them in the Woodbridge area.

They have left generations of schoolchildren to fall back in a flawed system because they were afraid of upsetting the unions and parents manipulated by those with vested interests.

But it’s not just schools and professionals who need to raise their expectations – it’s the parents as well.

I was shocked the other day to hear a teacher speaking of her despair that so many parents never came to the school – even to parents’ evenings. Too many parents in Suffolk seem happy about little Johnny or little Julie leaving school at 16 and looking for unskilled work to bring in a wage rather than saddle themselves and their families with debts.

Frankly the county’s politicians need to shout louder about these feckless, unambitious parents – and too bad if they don’t vote for you (they probably can’t be bothered to vote for anyone unless they’re on The X Factor!).

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