Red warnings for 18 high schools in Suffolk
15:51 07 November 2014
Nearly half of Suffolk secondary schools have been given the damning red mark risk rating by the county’s education chiefs.
In the final wave of risk assessment letters sent to schools, 18 secondary schools were marked red, which means poor, eight were marked amber which means good, and 12 schools achieved the top mark of green.
The first wave of these letters, sent out in October to primary and middle schools, resulted in 118 primary headteachers signing a vote of no confidence in Suffolk County Council. It was swiftly followed by a similar vote of no confidence from middle school heads.
Nikki Edwards, assistant director of education and learning, stressed that this is a new and significantly improved process which has been developed through the summer after a major training process for her team.
The Raising the Bar initiative has been radically overhauled and from now on means every school gets regular assessments, with those failing to pass the required standards subject to a process which could result in recovery plans and if those fail, the schools could be forced to become academies.
The county could also take control of the school’s budget and replace the governing board with an interim executive board.
She said: “Each school will now be risk rated three times a year based on information they provide and data from the Department of Education. In October we issued letters to primaries and middle schools, and this week we issued risk rating letters to secondary schools. All schools will be re-assessed in January.
“Schools may have Ofsted judgements that are a number of years old. Therefore, it might be the case that our risk rating of a school does not match their Ofsted judgement. This could be that the position has changed over the years. We must challenge those schools to take a careful look at their current performance to ensure their eye is firmly on the ball when it comes to ensuring young people progress effectively.”
Her team recently put 11 recovery plans for Suffolk primary schools into action and they are monitoring the progress of these with the ultimate sanctions still possible if they do not progress.
Mrs Edwards said: “We have had some challenging conversations with headteachers and governors. This was to be expected and it is an important part of ensuring standards improve in the county.
“We are the champion for every child and therefore we are challenging schools to make sure every single child is making expected levels of progress.”
But Sonia Barker, Labour’s education spokeswoman, said: “The question is whether effective recovery plans can be put together and managed properly. We are all for any process which improves the quality of our schools but is this approved by Ofsted?”