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Suffolk must raise its game to ensure Ipswich children succeed

One of the biggest things holding Ipswich back is our low skill, low wage economy, writes Ipswich Council Leader, David Ellesmere. 

Were underperforming at every level of educational attainment and far too many children are not getting the education they need.

 

Ben Gummer who has promised all schools in Ipswich will be either good or outstanding by the end of this Parliament. We shouldnt underestimate just how far we are from this goal at the moment. 

The main agent for improving schools is Suffolk County Council. The recent Ofsted report into their performance is damning: 

  • “The local authority has been too slow in acting on the areas for improvement … Too few pupils in Suffolk attend a good or outstanding school, particularly in Lowestoft and Ipswich …”

  • “The number of pupils … making at least nationally expected progress … remains below average and is especially low for disadvantaged pupils.”

  • “The local authority has set suitable targets for school improvement. However …it is difficult to see how they will be met.”

  • “[…T]he authority’s arrangements for identifying priorities for school improvement … are poor.”

I have a real concern about the County’s response to this report. It was a masterclass in spin. It picked out the small morsels of good news and ignored the bad. Where Ofsted called for improvements the line was “we’re doing this anyway so don’t need to change.”

The first step in solving a problem is to acknowledge that there is a problem.

One mystery is why, when the Ofsted inspection took place in January, the report wasn’t published till last week, just after the General Election?

Ofsted are intending to carry out another inspection “within the next two years”. We should insist that this report is published prior to the County Council elections in May 2017 so that voters can make an informed choice.

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