Bury St Edmunds headteachers give their verdict on council’s mixed Ofsted report

Suffolk County Council ANL-141006-173324001
Suffolk County Council ANL-141006-173324001
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Headteachers in Bury St Edmunds have given their verdict on an Ofsted report which found Suffolk County Council was ‘too slow’ in acting on school improvements.

The education watchdog has given a mixed verdict on the council’s response to a critical inspection last year - noting that ‘too few pupils’ in the county attend a good or outstanding school.

However, there was praise for several of the authority’s initiatives to drive up attainment including its ‘Raising the Bar’ strategy and risk assessments of schools based on pupil progress.

Inspectors said the assessments ‘place the authority in a stronger position’ but felt the council ‘did not manage the consultation with headteachers and governors about the process of the schools’ risk assessment well’.

They said: “The local authority has not worked effectively in partnership with all school leaders to agree a strategy by which they can improve the quality of teaching and learning to raise achievement.”

Ofsted added that the council should ‘rapidly improve achievement, particularly for disadvantaged pupils, and ensure all pupils attend a good or outstanding school’.

Geoff Barton, head at King Edward VI - part of the Bury Schools Partnership, said: “Ofsted’s report shows how much there still is to do to get education across Suffolk back up to its once impressive reputation. I’ve sensed a strong mood of determination from the county council education team over the past two years, even though some of their powers to directly work with academies and free schools are much more limited.”

Vicky Neale, head at County Upper - part of the Bury All-Through Trust, said: “I hope the local authority will take on board the comments and act upon them decisively and quickly so that we can get back to the situation where people visit Suffolk to see how its education service does well.”

Lisa Chambers, the council’s cabinet member for education, said: “We take on board the areas for improvement identified in Ofsted’s letter. These are all areas we were already aware of and work was already in progress before receipt of Ofsted’s letter.

“We have already implemented significant changes since the last Ofsted visit. Suffolk is an improving picture and Ofsted recognises this.”