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One in five Suffolk schools rated ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’

PUBLISHED: 18:16 23 September 2018 | UPDATED: 18:16 23 September 2018

Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council's education cabinet member, said sponsor academies amounted to more of the poorer performing schools Picture: JAMES FLETCHER

Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council's education cabinet member, said sponsor academies amounted to more of the poorer performing schools Picture: JAMES FLETCHER

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Fresh concerns have been raised over the quality of Suffolk schools as the latest data has revealed soaring numbers are being judged ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted.

Jack Abbott, Labour group education spokesman, said the data showed Raising the Bar was not working Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCILJack Abbott, Labour group education spokesman, said the data showed Raising the Bar was not working Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

The number of schools with the lowest ratings from the education watchdog has risen from 39 to 65 in the last three months following the most recent round of inspections.

Meanwhile, the percentage of schools currently judged ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ had dropped in that time from 86% to 79%, meaning one in five schools is in need of improvements.

The latest figures were published by Suffolk County Council in its overview and scrutiny papers.

The county council’s Raising the Bar programme was launched in 2012 with the aim of improving education outcomes across the board. At the time around 60% of schools were either ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

But Labour education spokesman Jack Abbott said the latest data showed the programme wasn’t working.

“The Conservatives at Suffolk County Council have got to be honest with themselves and admit that Raising the Bar has failed,” he said.

“Six years after promising that all schools in Suffolk would be rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, they are overseeing an education system that is going backwards not forwards with increasing numbers of schools being rated as ‘inadequate’.

“Now is the time to re-focus energy and resources to deliver on a strategy that is inclusive and brings long-lasting change to transform education in Suffolk for the better.”

While the percentage of schools with the better ratings has fallen, the actual number has grown. Currently 252 schools are rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ -up from 240 three months ago.

Graham White, Suffolk organiser for the National Education Union, said: “What we are seeing is the number of good and outstanding schools is going up because Ofsted is inspecting more schools than ever before, therefore you would expect to see that number grow.”

He continued: “The number of less good schools has also gone up, but you would expect that too. 
“What the figures do show is that most of the schools that are not doing as well are not local authority schools, they are academies.

“The Government says that academies raise standards but that doesn’t seem to be the case.”

Councillor Gordon Jones, Conservative cabinet member for education agreed and said: “The published outcomes we have seen recently for sponsor-led academies in Suffolk show that some have not improved as quickly as we would like or have further deteriorated.

“This is a challenge that we have taken to the National and Regional Schools Commissioner at the Department for Education which is responsible for these schools.

“In the last 12 months, 79% of our county council maintained schools inspected in Suffolk have retained or improved to ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, compared to only 65% of academies.

“Some of these academies that had ratings which were less than ‘good’ before they converted are now being counted in the national figures and that affects Suffolk’s average figures.

“Some of these academies are due to be inspected in the next three years following conversion and we want to see improvement during this time.”

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