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Ofsted criticise Council School Improvement Service again

Labour Councillors are once again demanding that the Conservative administration on Suffolk County Council do more to ensure children in Suffolk schools are not left behind after another damning report from Ofsted highlighted that a third of pupils in Suffolk do not attend a good school.

Government inspectors have been reviewing Suffolk County Council’s School Improvement Service and have made statements that have mirrored the Labour Groups comments over the years. Ofsted stated that ‘the local authority has been too slow in acting on the areas for improvement identified in the previous inspection’. After the last damning Ofsted inspection in January 2014 Labour Councillors called for more resources for the School Improvement Team not less, a call rejected by the Conservative administration at the February budget meeting.

Ipswich and Lowestoft have been singled out as areas of particular concern where Ofsted stated that too many children go to poor schools. We wait to hear what action Ben Gummer will be taking against the County Council after he promised only last week to ensure all schools in Ipswich will be Good or Outstanding.

One area of improvement identified by Ofsted is around communication. Ofsted state ‘the local authority has not communicated or consulted about the school improvement strategy effectively enough.’ Time and again we have called for better communication, more discussion with schools and greater openness on what the School Improvement Strategy consists of. Ofsted have also reinforced our criticism of the council that Headteachers were being challenged to improve without being given clear access to the appropriate support. Perhaps now Ofsted have said we are right this administration will listen, but we won’t hold our breath.

Labour Spokesperson for Education Cllr Sonia Barker said;

“Whilst I am sure this administration will try to paint a rosy picture of this damning report they cannot get away from the fact that Ofsted is highly critical. The report says the council is too slow, school leaders cannot access support, there are too many NEETS (young people not in education, employment or training), there is no link between targets and outputs, the council is not evaluating the impact of change, that the authority is not good value for money. The list of criticisms goes on and on. The report is an embarrassment for the county council.”

Cllr Barker added;

“All of the areas for improvement have been highlighted by us or Ofsted over the years and Cllr Chambers has buried her head in the sand over the depth of the problems with education in Suffolk. Given that there is likely to be a new Cabinet in the next few days I wonder if Cllr Chambers will do the honourable thing and resign.”

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