Ofsted to hold snap inspections at more than 30 schools in Suffolk

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Education watchdogs will today launch snap inspections at more than 30 schools across Suffolk to find out why the county has a number of schools performing below the national average.

Ofsted will inspect a range of schools from today until Friday September 20 after it found that more than 15,000 children attend a primary school judged to be less than good at its last inspection. .

It will also conduct telephone surveys of a number of schools in the county which are not being inspected.

In Suffolk, 30 per cent of primary schools are not yet good, compared with 28 per cent in the East of England and 21 per cent nationally.

Ofsted says this equates to 76 primary schools ‘not providing the expected level of education for their children’.

Sean Harford, regional director for the East of England, said: “All parents should have the same opportunity to send their children to a good or better school but in Suffolk the chance of being able to do so is much lower than in other parts of the country.

“That is why today and over the next week, my inspectors will be visiting a number of schools in Suffolk to find out whether performance is improving. We will be paying particular attention to the effectiveness and impact of the support these schools are receiving from the local authority.”

The inspections - the majority of which will be held at primary schools - were due to be held this academic year but are being brought forward.

The findings and any recommendations will be shared with Suffolk County Council as well as schools, parents and the wider public.

If Ofsted finds the council is ‘proactive’ in addressing key issues and that standards in schools are improving, this will be made clear in the letter setting out the principal findings to the authority.

However, if there is evidence the local authority is not fulfilling its statutory duty to promote high standards and fair access to educational opportunity, Ofsted may consider carrying out an inspection of the authority’s school improvement function under a new framework.

The local authority school improvement framework, which took effect in June this year, enables Ofsted for the first time to inspect the school improvement functions of any local authority where there are concerns the statutory duty to improve school standards is not being met.

Councillor Lisa Chambers, the county council’s cabinet member for education, skills and young people, said: “Improving educational attainment in Suffolk is the county council’s top priority. We’re focused on making sure every child in Suffolk has the opportunity to fulfil their potential, which includes going to a good or outstanding school.

“We welcome Ofsted inspecting Suffolk schools because it helps us to drive improvements.

“Through our Raising the Bar programme, we’re working with and challenging schools to drive up educational attainment. Early indication from the latest exam results indicate that schools are making good progress and this work will most certainly continue.”