Suffolk: Education chiefs in flagship reforms pledge as poor primary school results keep county in bottom five in England

Lisa Chambers, SCC cabinet member for education, skills and young people, said: We are taking the first steps of a long journey. Lisa Chambers, SCC cabinet member for education, skills and young people, said: We are taking the first steps of a long journey."

Friday, December 13, 2013
1:12 PM

Education chiefs have vowed flagship reforms in Suffolk “will work” after poor primary school results saw the county again named as one of the worst-performing authorities in England.

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Primary School results

Percentage of pupils reaching the required Level 4 standard in reading, writing and maths


Suffolk 68

Essex 74

Norfolk 69

Cambs 74

Eng Av 75


Suffolk 70

Essex 75

Norfolk 71

Cambs 72

Eng Av 75

Nearly one in three 11-year-olds failed benchmark mathematics and English exams in the county this year, new figures revealed.

The Department for Education data showed 70% of 6,905 Year Six pupils in Suffolk secured at least a Level 4 grade in reading, writing and mathematics when sitting national curriculum tests, known as SATs.

It was the joint-fourth-worst pass rate out of 152 local authorities in England. Only Reading and Bradford (both 69%), Luton (68%) and Poole (63%) performed worse.

Last year the county was the joint third-worst with a 68% ranking.

It means Suffolk jumped only one place in the national league tables, despite pledges from the county council to tackle poor attainment at Key Stage 2.

But with the national average stagnating at 75%, Suffolk is now 5% behind.

It comes the day after the 2013 Ofsted report found 33% of children in Suffolk do not attend a primary school rated “good” or “outstanding” – affecting 30,000 pupils.

Suffolk County Council (SCC) launched its flagship Raising the Bar scheme last year amid widespread concern over poor performance across the educational spectrum. It was designed to overhaul standards and improve results.

Mark Bee, SCC leader, last night insisted the council was not “failing” in its leadership of education while pledging his “full backing” behind the initiative.

“We recognise things need to change but I do not believe there has been a failure of leadership at the council,” he said.

“Last year we needed a radical new approach to drive up educational standards and I am fully behind the Raising the Bar scheme.

“We have confidence that once the measures are in place it will work and schools will see significant step changes.

“But we said it will not be an instant change and will need to be given time.”

Lisa Chambers, SCC cabinet member for education, skills and young people, said: “We are taking the first steps of a long journey. The first phase of the School Organisation Review is nearly complete and we have some really exciting programmes lined up to drive up standards. I have faith in Raising the Bar.”

Click here to see how each primary school in Suffolk performed in the latest tests.


  • @ A Smith. Suffolk's schools, according to the 2001 LA OFSTED inspection report (available in PDF), were at least as good as, and in many cases better than, comparable LAs. I think that countrywide the schools overall rating was somewhere in the mid-40s. There is not space here to list all the stats, which are available online if you want to look at them. Suffice to say that they show the opposite of your statement i.e. the county was up in the league tables from years ago, with a sudden slide beginning at the time the Tories took over. They have NEVER been been "at the bottom of the league tables since they were introduced". LA schools policy is a matter of politics. SOR was a political decision, forced through by a whipped Tory majority. Other than in major national policy decisions, the way that an LA runs education is determined by who's in charge. For example, the Labour Government could not in law intervene to prevent Middle Schools closure, even if they'd wanted to. I agree that both parents and pupils should value free education a lot more (as they do in other countries), and things have deteriorated a lot in the "get rich quick celebrity culture" we now have. Most teachers recognise the importance of parents being involved, as it then enables them to teach rather than being in loco parentis social workers and crowd controllers, for children put in school to be off the parents' hands. As you also point out, it needs the right conditions to be in place, and will take a long time. Unfortunately, no-one thus far (in education, local and national government), has come up with how to change the attitudes of thousands of parents and children for the better.

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    T Doff

    Friday, December 13, 2013

  • The government has no concerns for Suffolk until they can negate the education system to diss teachers. They don't invest in Suffolk, the transport system, roads and rail are diabolical, and there is a general feeling in some areas of neglect. This leads to a institutionalised lack of prospects and hope. It rubs off. If they (the govt.) don't care then how can our leaders in education and business create a positive attitude to help us all take off? The final straw was to inflict a toll road on the A14 when we endure an outmoded transport system that essentially feeds all important Felixstowe docks. In contrast the govt. invest millions or is it billions into a fast track rail system through the Midlands slaps us all in the face. Our own rail system is fundamentally flawed. Suffolk needs investment, hope and a lot of love to improve our expectations.

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    sue douglas

    Friday, December 13, 2013

  • Wait a minute this is not a political issue. Our schools have been at the bottom of the league tables since they were introduced, though mostly a Labour government and whilst the middle school existed (note other more successful areas don’t have middle schools). No this is an issue with the admin people with the councils, the teachers and mostly the local parents who dump their children daily at school and do not partake in the children education. I have seen the people literally run away from requests for help with school events and never appearing at parent evening. What is need is a change in attitudes and that is brought about by both local and central government setting the environment for that change a long long job

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    A Smith

    Friday, December 13, 2013

  • No suggestion, of course, that the reduction of support for schools and teachers from the County since the Tories came in in 2005 might somehow be connected; nor how the dogma-driven disaster that is the Schools Organisation Review has contributed to this state of affairs. If the Tory administration had spent a little more time thinking through the consequences, they might have foreseen that the Middle Schools did an enormous amount to bring poorly-prepared pupils from the primaries, up to standard (for which they got no thanks, just a kicking from Pembroke,Turner, o'Brien, Newman et al amidst a barrage of shaky data, intimidation and lies). Quite clearly, chopping out the Middles and then dumping the 9-11s into Primaries with no experience of the exam and teaching requirements, or preparation beyond building work, would not in the short term work. If the County had kept and added to the resources to help the schools post-SOR changes, much of this trouble could have been avoided.

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    T Doff

    Friday, December 13, 2013

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