One quarter of Essex children were at substandard schools last year according to Ofsted
More than a quarter of children in Essex were at schools which needed improvement or were inadequate last year.
The annual regional report from schools’ watchdog Ofsted for 2013/14 found 26% of pupils at both primary and secondary level were at schools which needed improvement or were inadequate.
This equates to around 4,000 children in substandard primary schools.
However there has been a 4% improvement on the previous year for primary school children, and 1% for secondary students.
Overall the county ranks 119th equal nationally for its primary school provision and 82nd for secondary schools, out of 150 local authorities.
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Essex County Council was highlighted for issuing the most statutory warning notices to schools in the region, giving out 23 last year, and Ofsted said this showed the authority “took its responsibilities seriously”.
Ray Gooding, county councillor for education, said: “We welcome Ofsted’s annual report which helps us focus our efforts ensuring we continue to raise education outcomes for young people in Essex and ensure children get the best start in life.
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“I am pleased Ofsted has recognised our use of warning notices, as we believe this has led to significant improvements across the county.
“Over the last year our focus has been on improving standards in primary schools. We believe these and our interventions will result in a significant improvement in the attainment level of Essex pupils compared with those in the east of England and nationally.”
The Clacton area was also singled out in the report as one of a number of coastal areas struggling to provide good quality education, with more than 60% of schools less than good – the lowest proportion of any constituency in the region.
The town also has a teacher vacancy rate higher than the national average, and in light of these figures Ofsted has said it will focus on the area.
However some schools, such as the Clacton Coastal Academy, have moved from requires improvement to good in the past year.
Douglas Carswell, MP for Clacton, said: “It’s a very good thing Ofsted is putting the spotlight on this problem. For far too long everyone has tried to sweep it under the carpet.
“Clacton kids have as much right to a good education as other children in East Anglia, and yet there is a persistent problem of under-performance.
“It is not that the children are that different, or that there’s less funding, it is a historic problem with the way some schools are run.
“The fact is primary education in particular is just not good enough and if in those crucial years you’re not getting the best teaching, by the time you’re a teenager you’re already at a massive disadvantage.
“I will be shining the spotlight on Ofsted because every year this problem persists another cohort of children are doomed to go into the labour market at a disadvantage compared to children in Colchester, Ipswich and London.
“The quality of teaching in some classrooms is not good enough, there’s no easy way to say it but it has got to be said.”
Mr Gooding added: “I am fully aware of the challenges faced by schools in coastal areas in the region, which includes the Clacton area.
“We are working closely with schools in the area and are determined to ensure progress and attainment levels improve significantly at primary and secondary level.”