Suffolk: Council to spend £2.4 million on Raising the Bar

Lisa Chambers

Lisa Chambers - Credit: Archant

Suffolk County Council’s cabinet has formally accepted the findings of the report into improving education in the county.

The independent report was produced by the Royal Society of Arts as part of the Raising the Bar initiative launched by the county two years ago as Suffolk slipped down the national league tables.

The findings of the report “No School an Island” were adopted by the cabinet who committed the council to taking steps to improve education across Suffolk.

These include working harder to attract and retain talented teachers, having an awards programme to recognise excellence in teaching, working with governors to improve the management of schools – and building a partnership with the London borough of Hackney which has seen its educational standards improve dramatically over recent years.

Cabinet member with responsibility for education Lisa Chambers said driving up educational standards in Suffolk remained the council’s top priority.

“This report contains some firm recommendations, some of which we are already in the process of implementing.

“This is a very significant stage in our bid to improve the educational opportunities in Suffolk – it is effectively the end of the beginning of our work to improve standards.”

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Opposition education spokeswoman Sonia Barker was concerned that the link-up with Hackney would not take account of the difference in resources between the two authorities.

She said: “Primary schools in Hackney get twice as much per pupil as those in Suffolk.”

And she felt it was important to recognise that some of the educational problems in Suffolk were caused by deprivation and lack of access to necessary resources, especially broadband.

Her Labour colleague Len Jacklin was concerned that putting too much emphasis on governors and giving them an enhanced role could put off some potential board members.

He said: “It is all right for those of us who are retired – but if you want younger people like parents with jobs it is a lot to expect them to go into schools all the time as governors.”

Mrs Chambers said Suffolk’s school funding was similar to that of “statistical neighbours” such as Dorset or Gloucestershire.

And she felt it was important to support governors, and to try to ensure that they came from as wide a spectrum as possible.

The report was unanimously approved by the cabinet, allowing the council to go ahead with spending £2.4million from reserves to implement its recommendations.