Suffolk: School governors ‘must be more challenging’

Suffolk county councillor Lisa Chambers

Suffolk county councillor Lisa Chambers - Credit: Archant

School governors must be more “strategic, challenging and ambitious” if Suffolk is to see the required improvements in education. That is one of the key messages that is set to form part of Suffolk County Council’s initial response to the Raising the Bar inquiry’s report.

The report, entitled “No School An Island”, was prepared by the Royal Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA), which was given the task of leading the Raising the Bar project by Suffolk County Council (SCC) last summer.

The council has already formed a strategic partnership with Hackney – acting quickly to establish one of the recommendations in the report – and now its more detailed first response, looking at the many other recommendations, will be presented to SCC’s cabinet at a meeting next Tuesday.

At the cabinet meeting councillors will be asked to agree the feedback to the RSA report and to consult further during the summer, with an expectation that a full response to the recommendations will be brought to cabinet again in October.

RSA chairman Matthew Taylor – a former advisor to Tony Blair during his time in Downing Street – has been heavily involved in the recommendations and strategies.

Lisa Chambers, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for education, skills and young people, said: “The county council has already illustrated how important improving education for our children is in Suffolk by making it the number one priority.

“This report to cabinet is just the beginning of what our response will be to the independent RSA report into education here in Suffolk.

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“There is still much more to do and with agreement from my fellow cabinet members I would like to see a full response collated over the summer months. Our response needs to be jointly developed by the county council, our schools and colleges, local businesses and the parents and young people themselves, as collaboration holds the key to seeing continued and sustained educational improvement here in Suffolk.”

Part of the SCC initial response looks at the RSA’s recommendation that school have more challenging and strategic governing bodies.

“We agree with the need to ensure governors and governing bodies are more strategic, challenging and ambitious to become outstanding governing bodies,” the response says.

“There is currently a range of activity in place to move us in that direction; supported by the Solutions Group of the inquiry and will develop them further.”

And the council also backs the report’s call for investment in recruitment and Schools Direct in order to “widen the pool” of teaching talent.

Its response says: “We believe that this recommendation is crucial to future success. We absolutely agree that dynamic leaders and high quality teachers are central to schools achieving the highest possible standards.

“This is a key area of delivery that we believe it would be useful for the learning partnership to focus on initially – charged with ensuring that together we deliver a strategy that secures us the very best teachers and headteachers for Suffolk’s children.”