Suffolk: Arts chief says county needs to aim higher and achieve more

THE leader of a project to raise children’s aspirations and improve attainment yesterday called for Suffolk to “aim higher and achieve more”.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts, is heading a commission looking at improving achievement levels in partnership with Suffolk County Council as part of the Raising the Bar initiative.

He said: “A final report should be ready by next spring, but that doesn’t mean a lot of really interesting work can’t begin now.

“People don’t want to wait until next May to get things going. Suffolk needs to aim higher and achieve more as a county as a whole.

“With the final report I want to not just be making recommendations but reflections on things happening already.”

A generation ago Suffolk’s schools were considered to be among the best in the region – but over recent years the improvement in their GCSE results has not kept pace with the national average. Mr Taylor has identified three key broad themes on which to work on improving exam results. “Although Suffolk is far from being a terrible performer, its performance is not quite as good as it ought to be,” he added.

“We live in a time of rapid change with employment and we need to be asking ‘what do we want from our education system and how should we be preparing people for the world they are going to face?’

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“It’s about challenge and support for schools – how can we make sure every school is given the right mix of challenge and support for a continuous story of improvement?

“Capabilities and employment – what are the core capabilities we want to give young people in doing well in exams?

“And how can we improve young people’s awareness in the world of work? I want children to learning about the labour market alongside reading, writing and arithmetic.”

Mr Taylor believes Suffolk’s businesses can do more to help young peoples’ aspiration levels, and in particular those in the energy sector, are well-placed to take advantage.

He said: “We need to explain to young people how important energy is and there is a strong link within their school curriculum.”

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