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We must all share the blame for schools crisis

16:49 29 January 2013

Suffolk needs to take action to improve schools

Suffolk needs to take action to improve schools


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!).



  • The media hung on Sir Michael's every word because it's easier than investigating what he says and challenging it. The government and the press peddle a message of failure and discontent and then wonder why people have no aspirations. Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Education, has ripped the heart out of an already suffering education system; just because he can. His only qualifications for the job appear to be that he was once a schoolboy. Oh hang on though, he also trained as a journalist - well that presumably makes him an expert in everything!

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    Thursday, January 31, 2013

  • One of the main problems teachers face is that students have so few aspirations - if you ask some of them what they want to get in your subject they often respond with 'I'm hoping to get a C', or 'I just need Ds to get into college'. It is very hard to convince these students to aim higher. If you try to get students to stay behind to catch up with coursework they have missed through illness or holidays, or improve it, they are often reluctant or have to collect siblings from school or have go to their part-time job - parents are not helping this - as highlighted in this article (of course when it comes to results day it will be down to the teachers - rather than students and their parents who apparently have no responsibility here). However, the three tier system argument isn't always valid - Ipswich has not had that for many many years yet has some of the worse results - whereas Bury St Edmunds still has it and actually results are better than some two-tier areas - and it is not just down to deprivation as BSE does have deprived areas, just as Ipswich has many affluent areas.

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    Thursday, January 31, 2013

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