Primary heads vow to improve as council chief lays out new plans

Richard Rice. Head Teacher of Serbert Wood Primary School is retiring
Richard Rice. Head Teacher of Serbert Wood Primary School is retiring
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The heads of several primary schools have promised to work together to improve poor performance after a plea from a council boss.

Deborah Cadman, chief executive of Suffolk County Council, has written to every school in the county after last week’s Key Stage Two results revealed our schools are lagging behind the national average.

Suffolk scored 74 per cent for pupils achieving level four or above in both English and Maths - placing it 146th out of 150 local authorities.

Ms Cadman’s letter outlines a seven point plan to improve outcomes and states that raising teaching standards is now the council’s top priority.

Teachers at schools with serious concern will also be asked to explain their performance to the council at a meeting in January, according to the letter.

A number of headteachers in Bury St Edmunds acknowledged the need for improvement in light of the letter.

Richard Rice, who retires from his role at Sebert Wood Primary School after 22 years this week, said the plans were ‘quite right’.

“The responsibility for standards rests with the schools. We cannot make excuses or be too defensive and we have to work to improve Suffolk.

“I really don’t think it’s right for the schools to say it’s up to the LEA (Local Education Authority) to sort things out - it’s up to us as school leaders,” he said.

Mr Rice said a resources pack which had been issued alongside the letter, including teaching materials, would help, but that more needs to be done in terms of communication between schools.

The results came as the county council launched its Raising the Bar programme to speed up improvements.

Daryl Jones, headteacher of Hardwick Primary School said the county council was ‘right to be concerned’.

“I agree with Deborah Cadman when she says ‘raising attainment is everyone’s business.

“We want the children in our school and for the rest of Suffolk to have the highest standard of education and I’m sure that all schools are behind the county council’s Raising the Bar programme.

“Attainment and progress is our number one priority and like all schools we will look at what we can do to further improve standards,” he said.

Ms Cadman emphasised that it is not the ‘worst performing’ schools that require improvement, but all schools.

The letter was also signed by Allan Cadzow, interim director for Children and Young People’s Services.