“We need the national investment and support that went into the capital’s schools” – Norfolk County Council’s call following Ofsted report criticising primary school performance

Mick Castle, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for schools.  Picture: James Bass Mick Castle, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for schools. Picture: James Bass

Thursday, December 12, 2013
8:00 AM

The government should target extra funding at education in Norfolk so it can replicate the transformation of urban schools, Norfolk County Council has said.

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Ofsted regional director for the East of England Sean Harford. Photo: Steve AdamsOfsted regional director for the East of England Sean Harford. Photo: Steve Adams

The call followed yesterday’s Ofsted report on the east of England which said school leadership in the region is the weakest in the country, and strongly criticised primary school performance in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

In its national report, published on the same day, Ofsted highlighted the strong performance of schools in the capital, where the London Challenge, launched in 2003, used leadership training, a focus on data and experienced advisers to drive up standards.

The scheme has been a key influence on Norfolk County Council’s own improvement plan.

Schools cabinet member Mick Castle said: “There are more than 400 schools in the county, spread across a huge area with very many different challenges. We need the national investment and support that went into the capital’s schools if our strategy is to have the immediate impact that we desire.

“We know we have the strategy and determination in place in Norfolk to succeed.

“I would urge the government to consider putting additional funding into rural and coastal regions like Norfolk so that our children can have the same advantages as those in urban areas that have already benefited.”

Ofsted’s report for the east of England said the performance of primaries in the three counties is within the bottom 10pc of English local authorities for the proportion of children attending “good” or “outstanding” schools.

Regional director Sean Harford said Ofsted would re-inspect Norfolk County Council’s progress in July 2014, one year after it branded the council’s support for school improvement “ineffective”.

Referring to Norfolk, the report said: “126 primary schools educating over 20,000 children are not yet good enough. Worse still, 8pc of secondary schools remain inadequate – twice the proportion of inadequate schools seen nationally.

“By the end of the year, over 6,000 pupils found themselves attending inadequate primary or secondary schools in the county.

“This gives us great cause for concern and, as a result, we are monitoring the local authority’s progress and will make a return inspection by the end of July 2014 to check whether the children and young people of Norfolk are getting a better deal.”

It added: “We are not walking away.”

However, the report said Norfolk’s secondary schools had shown the strongest improvement in the region, although from a “very low base”.

The report said that leadership and management of schools are weaker in the east of England than in any other region, describing this as “a key barrier to school improvement in the region and one that must be tackled rigorously”.

8 comments

  • Until they get rid of the likes of Castle, nothing will improve,

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    John L Norton

    Thursday, December 12, 2013

  • While Lisa Christensen had many questions to answer, so do Cllrs Alison Thomas and Tom Garrod now. They are still on the scene. And while the latter seems to have a letter published every week in the EDP, he is strangely silent about his role as deputy to the former. We badly need the equivalent of House of Commons Select Committees in County Hall, with the power to summon failing members to explain themselves in public.

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    Nemesis

    Thursday, December 12, 2013

  • Well he is not wrong on this, the funding is what has been lacking for decades . Look at all the remote little secondary moderns in shabby buildings that were patched up to become remote far too small comprehensives-just one example of bad decisions driven by low funding But Mick Castle-and the droves of councillors responsible for education over the years-just how well educated were they themselves? How much did they value a good education for the people of Norfolk and their children. Or did they just not know how a good education in a good school should look or did they write us all off as being thick yokels for whom education had no worth and do as little as they could get away with? Complacent has been the word-comprehensives full of former secondary modern staff timetabled to teach streams and subjects well above their ability and failing, primary schools with heads who had sat in the job and not been near another school or training course for decades; heads of larger schools burnishing their cvs by recruiting members of the poorly qualified playground supervisor clique and giving them a leg up onto shockingly easy degree courses and into training on the job; good teachers confounded at every turn by bad appointments made by incompetent boards of governors and so on. And the whole problem persisting because Norfolk was happy to employ ex headteachers who had been useless in their former roles, as inspectors and the councillors failed to ask the right questions.

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    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, December 12, 2013

  • Castle might only be part of the problem in that he is another in a long line of Norfolk councillors who do not appear to have much in the way of higher education nor any obvious experience in the field of education The EDP is part of the problem, wealthy right wing councillors were part of the problem and dyed in the wool Labour councillors were part of the problem-none of them have any respect for Norfolk people. They either went to private schools and think we are thick , or are move ins and think we are thick or are ill educated and don't care. Those of us who had the advantage of being taught in Norfolk schools by Oxbridge and Russell group graduates who themselves came from Norfolk were lucky. They at least did not pay into calumny of normal for Norfolk and I can't read I can't write I can drive a tractor. Look in the mirror EDP journalists.

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    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, December 12, 2013

  • I think it would be a good idea if the many tables we see published show what percentage of parents attend parent teacher evenings and other parent events. I do wonder if the best attendance will be at the best performing schools. Children need parental help and encouragement as much as they need the teachers. No I am not a teacher.

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    jennifer jane

    Thursday, December 12, 2013

  • Well he is not wrong. Inner cities faced the major embarrassment of being accused of failing to educate ethnic minorities properly, so money has been piled into them and into community projects, youth clubs,getting disaffected boys of African and West Indian origin into full school attendance etc. What do kids in Norfolk get, less per head in spending ( I think even when the London weighting of salaries is taken into account )where are the public funded youth clubs etc Norfolk kids get told they can walk to school along muddy footpaths on old railway lines and pay hundreds a year to get to A level studies.

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    Daisy Roots

    Thursday, December 12, 2013

  • Are they doing your head in Micky Wicky?

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    alecto

    Thursday, December 12, 2013

  • Spot on Daisy Roots....I am so fed up with Ofsted and politicians' lies about the root cause of this failure........IT IS ABOUT FUNDING so wake up Norfolk and fight for the best as in Government funding per pupil: Doncaster - £4282, Isle of Wight - £4482, NORFOLK- £4301, Suffolk - £3975, INNER LONDON - £6360, TOWER HAMLETS - £7203..... a level playing field?? ......hardly!

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    Sportswagon

    Thursday, December 12, 2013

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site

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