Ofsted praise Suffolk schools

SEVERAL Suffolk schools have today been included in Ofsted's new list highlighting success – as Chief Inspector of Schools Mike Tomlinson paid tribute to Britain's highest-ever teaching standards.

By Judy Rimmer

SEVERAL Suffolk schools have today been included in Ofsted's new list highlighting success – as Chief Inspector of Schools Mike Tomlinson paid tribute to Britain's highest-ever teaching standards.

Mr Tomlinson today unveiled a list of schools with an outstanding record, based on inspection reports from the past year, and revealed that a record number of lessons were now classed as good or better.

But he was also expected to warn once again of teacher shortages – saying the recruitment crisis could be on the verge of hitting exam results.

Altogether, 348 particularly successful schools from across Britain have been named in the annual report on quality and standards in education.

Last year no Suffolk schools were included, but this year several are on the list, including Kesgrave High, as well as St Helen's Primary in Ipswich, and Witnesham and Bealings Primary Schools.

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Suffolk County Council's deputy leader, Bryony Rudkin, said: "I am really pleased, it's a testament to all the hard work put in by staff, governors, parents and the whole community. This is not a league table and not just about results. It is about schools that have done really well in their communities."

Headteachers and governors today welcomed the recognition for the achievements of their staff and pupils. But some expressed fears that picking out just a few schools could be divisive, and hit out strongly over controversial league tables based on exam results.

The Evening Star has taken a stand against these tables and does not publish them because we believe they are misleading.

At St Helen's, which is a large primary school with 360 pupils, chairman of governors, Jon Rowe, said: "The governing body is very pleased that in its annual report, Ofsted has been able to recognise the high standards achieved by pupils and staff."

However, he added: "Although this recognition is welcome, we take this opportunity to congratulate all the other schools in our area who make such a firm commitment to excellence and from whom we have learned so much."

Headteacher Phil Golding, said he was very impressed with the hard work of his staff and support of parents. But he stressed: "The school remains convinced of the unfairness of league tables."

He pointed out that no school with an area support centre, catering for pupils with special needs, could possibly be near the top.

"We are pleased that the Evening Star has taken a stand against these unfair comparisons, whilst still celebrating the achievements of all our schools," he said.

Kesgrave High's headteacher, George Thomas, said he was very pleased, but stressed that his was one of many good schools in Suffolk as a whole.

"Our concern is that we do a very good job for the pupils in our catchment area. We have a very rich and wide curriculum."

On the subject of league tables, he said he was concerned that there seemed to be a growing "name and blame" culture, and he also expressed opposition to the idea of specialist schools.

"I still believe, and I know my staff do, that comprehensive education is a success story when it has the right resources," he commented.

Christine Gough, headteacher of Witnesham Primary, which has just 95 pupils, said she was pleased that the list of successful schools was based on looking at a school as a whole and not just on statistics.

"I think the inspectors were impressed with the level of partnership and the good relationships within the school," she said.

"We try to make sure that we really address the whole curriculum and not just basic skills."

She said the school has a wide range of after-school activities, from sports to chess and computer clubs.

Duncan Bathgate, headteacher of Bealings School, said:

"This is good for the team of people who work here. This shows there is some excellent work going on in Suffolk schools and it's good to see that being recognised."

He said it was good to see that small schools had achieved high standards.