Two in five Suffolk children failing to reach standards in basic subjects
PUBLISHED: 10:00 21 January 2020 | UPDATED: 08:21 22 January 2020
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Almost four in 10 primary school pupils in Suffolk are struggling to reach expected standards in reading, writing and maths, it has emerged.
According to Ofsted's annual report, 61% of youngsters in key stage two are meeting these targets, compared with 65% nationally.
Meanwhile, key stage two pupils in Essex are performing above-average, with 66% of children achieving expected standards.
To achieve the 'expected standard', a pupil must reach a scaled score of 100 or more in reading and maths tests.
They must also receive an outcome of 'reaching the expected standard' or 'working at greater depth' in writing.
How are our schools performing?
By the end of August 2019, 85% of schools in the east of England were judged to be 'good' or 'outstanding' at their most recent Ofsted inspection, compared with 86% nationally.
In Suffolk, 80% of primary schools reached the top two grades, compared with 90% in Essex and 87% nationally.
More than three quarters - 76% - of secondary schools in Suffolk were considered 'good' or 'outstanding' as of August 2019.
And in Essex, this figure stood at 84%, while the national average of 76%.
Regionally, 2% of schools were considered 'stuck' (judged in the bottom two categories of 'requires improvement' or 'inadequate' for every inspection since September 2006).
Of 2,556 schools, 54 in the east were 'stuck'.
'Fantastic turnaround' for Ipswich school
Paul Brooker, Ofsted director for our region, said he was "particularly pleased" to see cases such as Murrayfield Primary in Ipswich, which the chief inspector recently visited after it achieved a 'good' judgement.
"Overall, there has been lots to celebrate this year, most schools inspected since September - under the new framework - have been judged good," he said.
"I am particularly pleased when schools facing the most challenging circumstances, like Murrayfield Primary which the Chief Inspector recently visited in Ipswich, work so hard to achieve a 'good' judgement.
"Looking ahead, I hope that these success stories will inspire others and make us rightly proud of what teachers and social care professional are doing for pupils, students and learners in our region."
MORE: Ipswich primary school praised by Ofsted chief during 'fantastic' visit
However, the Ofsted boss did say that he "remains concerned" about how the region's most vulnerable pupils are supported.
"(This is especially true) of children who have special educational needs and/or disabilities and pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds. We still don't do well enough here," he added.
'East serving its pupils well'
But he added: "This year's annual report reflects the fact that social care and education provision in the east of England remain strong. Our region serves its pupils well.
"High quality early years settings ensure that children get off to a good start in the early years, and most of our primary and secondary schools are at least good too.
"In contrast, our further education and skills providers have had rather a mixed year, and still lag behind the national picture. Some colleges have improved to 'good', but some weaker colleges have shown little or no improvement."
'Time to start delivering for children in Suffolk', warns Labour chief
Jack Abbott, Labour's education spokesman at Suffolk County Council, called on those in charge to "end bits and pieces education schemes".
He recognised that a "number of schools are doing exceptional work", but claimed they are having to do so "in the midst of diminishing resources and a fragmenting education system".
"Every child should be receiving an outstanding education, but it is a failure of those in power that one in five Suffolk schools are under-performing, and 40% of pupils are not achieving the expected standard in reading, writing and maths in KS2," he said.
"When you also factor in under-funding of early years provision, the education disadvantage gap, critically high primary school exclusion rates and a desperate lack of support for children with special educational needs, it is clear there are a number of underlying issues which are not being properly addressed.
"With Raising the Bar all but over, we need to see an end to bits and pieces schemes.
"Instead, we must focus on developing a properly funded, accountable, multi-agency plan for Suffolk's education system from birth into adulthood. It is time to start delivering for children in our county."
'More work to be done'
Mary Evans, Conservative cabinet member for children's services, education, and skills, said it is heartening the document praised Murrayfield Primary and SET Ixworth School.
However, she added: "I recognise there is much more work to be done to ensure all children achieve their full potential and this has been the central aim of our Raising the Bar initiative.
"However, with more than 70% of the children in the county educated in academy schools, the council's role is about support, influence and challenge with school leaders and the regional schools commissioner's team.
"Through the important relationships with the headteacher associations in Suffolk, the council has facilitated the Suffolk Learning and Improvement Network and the School to School Support Partnership.
"These collaborations between the council and school leaders, in all types of school, focus on ensuring more Suffolk children achieve and ultimately exceed national performance expectations.
"We are also in early discussions with the National Literacy Trust with a view to opening a literacy hub to support children and families in Suffolk which would not just improve literacy but also children's preparedness for entry into school."
Jerry Glazier, of the north east Essex branch of the National Education Union (NEU), criticised an increased emphasis on testing, adding that it was putting additional pressure on teachers and pupils.
A spokesman for Essex County Council added: "ECC is committed to working with schools to ensure all pupils receive the best possible education and we are delighted with the progress being made in Essex. The 2019 annual Ofsted Report shows 90% of the county's primary schools are rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted - above the national average of 87%. In addition to the latest Ofsted outcomes, Essex schools have celebrated a number of successes this year and we congratulate staff, governors and pupils on their achievements."