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International Festival of Learning: Councillors talk about challenges of improving education

Gordon Jones and Colin Noble at the International Festival of Learning PICTURE: Mecha Morton
Gordon Jones and Colin Noble at the International Festival of Learning PICTURE: Mecha Morton

The challenges of funding, inconsistent quality of teaching and the energy for improving education were discussed by county council leaders at Monday’s International Festival of Learning.

Raising the Bar, Suffolk County Council’s strategy to improve educational attainment across the county, was main sponsor of the event.

Cllr Gordon Jones, cabinet member for children’s services, education and skills, acknowledged that the county’s education system had been in a ‘challenging place’ when Raising the Bar was launched in 2012.

“We’ve made significant progress,” he said. “Sustainable change takes time. We are on that journey – and quite a way on – and I think the future looks promising.”

Cllr Jones said one of the main reasons he joined the council was to fight for fairer funding, however Suffolk is still one of the lowest funded education authorities in England.

“We are not well funded and we will continue to work on that. We won’t give up on trying to get a larger slice of the cake for children and schools in Suffolk,” said Cllr Jones.

Another priority for Raising the Bar is recruitment and training, with thousands more teachers needed in the next few years.

“We have got some very good and outstanding teachers in Suffolk. Would we like more? Of course we would,” said Cllr Jones. “We do still have teachers who do not deliver and I think most of those are in academies, which is something on our agenda to address.”

Since its inception in 2012, Raising the Bar has seen a 12 per cent increase in the number of schools in Suffolk judged good or outstanding by Ofsted, to 87 per cent.

Colin Noble, Suffolk County Council leader, said: “I think you see here today the energy that exists in this sector for improving education.”

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