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Suffolk: Raising the Bar - results should improve in 2014

12:00 11 January 2013

The RSA headquarters on John Adam Street in London, where the Raising the Bar summit took place.

The RSA headquarters on John Adam Street in London, where the Raising the Bar summit took place.

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A GROUND-BREAKING inquiry into poor educational performance in Suffolk is expected to deliver the first significant improvements next year.

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Joe Hallgarten, education director at the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts (RSA), which is working with Suffolk County Council (SCC) on the Raising the Bar inquiry, said he expected to see grades - which are some of the worst in the country for the latest key stage two exams - improve in 2014.

Mr Hallgarten was speaking during the Rising the Bar summit in London yesterday, which saw Suffolk teachers, governors, councillors and representatives from businesses joined by national experts to discuss the progress already made since the inquiry was launched last summer.

During the session SCC chief executive Deborah Cadman said she saw Raising the Bar as a “movement” and not just a project while details about the planned Suffolk Baccalaureate were discussed.

Mr Hallgarten said as well as making short-term progress by next year, he expects to see a “real step-change” within the next few years.

“I’m hoping that we can develop some principals and processes and some action that will lead to a significant improvement in the 2014 results,” Mr Hallgarten said.

“I think we should see some improvements by 2014, both overall and in comparison, but a real step-change in improvement three or four years after that.

“The other thing SCC has done really well with our support is learn about other local authorities that have been in similar situations and have managed to raise improvement - London being the obvious one.”

Mr Hallgarten also said he hoped the involvement of experts from around the country would continue long after the final report aimed at boosting attainment in Suffolk is delivered.

Representatives from the likes of the Local Government Association, the Institute of Education, the University of Cambridge and Achievement for All were among the delegates at the summit, held at the RSA’s headquarters.

Mr Hallgarten said: “Many of them are very willing to engage in the continued aspirations of Suffolk and the inquiry. I think as a foundation for further involvement of those experts is fantastic but overall, and possibly more important than that, it has maintained and grown the energy of those within Suffolk to develop solutions.

“It has enabled is to share and cross-fertilise ideas that otherwise wouldn’t have happened and enabled some of these groups to take some of those ideas forward. We have always said at the RSA that only part of the inquiry is the final report.

“The final report will have recommendations and undoubtedly some of those recommendations will go down well and some of them won’t - some of them will be acted upon, others won’t. But we have developed a process and partnership with SCC in that the final report isn’t the be all and end all.”

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