Mixed reaction to plans to help Suffolk education 'cold spot'

Suffolk Levelling Up

Suffolk was identified as an area in need of additional funding for education in the government's Levelling Up white paper - Credit: PA/Tom Hunt/Charlotte Bond

The government's new Levelling Up white paper, which listed Suffolk as one of the education 'cold spots' in need of further measures, has received a cautious reaction.

Suffolk was identified as one of 55 areas in England where education outcomes are weak and need further support.

Teachers in the county will be offered a "levelling-up premium" to improve retention and schools that are judged less than "good" by Ofsted in successive inspections could be moved into multi-academy trusts under the plans.

Tom Hunt said he supported the Lords amendment in principle, but could not vote for it because of th

Tom Hunt described the news as a "promising start" - Credit: House of Commons

Ipswich MP Tom Hunt said: “Suffolk has been designated as an Education Investment Area, which is a promising start. Ipswich is already an Opportunity Area for education, which means more investment to boost outcomes and unlock the potential of disadvantaged young people."

On the topic of education in the Levelling Up plans he added: “Provision for SEND students is something I am always very vocal on. I would like to thank the Department for Education for their new plan to invest in a further 10,000 respite places for individuals with special educational needs and disabilities.”  

Stowmarket High headteacher Dave Lee-Allan

Stowmarket High headteacher Dave Lee-Allan - Credit: Charlotte Bond

Dave Lee-Allan, headteacher of Stowmarket High School, welcomed any additional funding in Suffolk but hopes a "wider target zone" across Suffolk will benefit from the levelling up, not just areas in Ipswich.

He said the proposal of solving poor Ofsted results by becoming an academy "is frustratingly simplistic" and that "school improvement is a multi faceted challenge".

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"I'd  hoped the government more widely understood that this is quite a dated approach," he said.

"It's disappointing to see that's still being touted.

On the topic of teacher retention he said: "They need to look at their fundamental treatment of teachers, looking at their pay and conditions, looking at the accountability framework that's forced literally hundreds of teachers out of Suffolk and every other county.

"If they really wanted to solve it they would do something far more ambitious than this."

Geoff Barton, General Secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders

Former Suffolk headteacher Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, shared his view on the white paper - Credit: Archant

Speaking  before the release of the white paper Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said he hoped for clarity from the government on the criteria it has used to identify the areas and that the multi-academy trusts sounds like "a rehash of its ‘coasting schools’ policy which it jettisoned a few years ago".