Suffolk: Young voices vital as the county aims to raise the bar – Matthew Taylor

Matthew Taylor

Matthew Taylor

THE voices of school students must be heard during the debate on how to raise education standards in Suffolk.

That was the message from those preparing a report on the “Raising the Bar” efforts in the county.

Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) is currently preparing a report on how the county’s schools could improve their results.

He was speaking last night at a conference to review the progress of the Shout out Suffolk campaign which aims to give young people a voice and allow them to have a say in the future.

Mr Taylor said those working on Raising the Bar were aware how important it was to consider the views of the most important people in the education process – the students themselves.

“Shout out Suffolk is a hugely important element to the Raising the Bar process – getting input from young people is vital,” he said.

Before addressing the meeting he had met two year 11 (approaching GCSE) students from Holbrook High School who had talked about their experience at school.

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“That was truly inspirational, to hear how important they felt their school experience had been.

“Their school had had some interim heads, it’s been in special measures but it’s now emerging from that and seems to be doing better – and they recognised that.

“I know some people debate whether it is right to worry young people about the problems their schools are facing, but they know what is happening and their input is very important.”

Mr Taylor said most students are keen to be at a successful school. The RSA is working with the Lilian Baylis school in London which once had the reputation as being one of the worst in the capital.

“The school has been transformed – and when it was announced that Ofsted had rated it as outstanding recently, the whole school – pupils, parents and staff gathered to chant the name of the head teacher.

“That kind of pride is vital and you have to involve everyone – especially the young people.”

Mr Taylor was anxious to avoid giving many hints about the contents of the report that is currently being prepared, but he did say the importance of co-operation among schools would be at the heart of it.

And he said it was clear major changes would have to come from the bottom up – be introduced from schools themselves rather than have solutions imposed by the local education authority.

He said: “LEAs have very important roles in improving standards, they can support and advise and put the right frameworks in place. But the improvements have to come from the schools themselves, not be imposed from above.”

Shout out Suffolk

THE Shout out Suffolk programme was launched in October and is an initiative between UCS, the RSA and Suffolk County Council.

Young people from 13 upwards can take part through Facebook and Twitter – and there is a scrapbook area for them to leave messages about their hopes and aspirations for the future.

It is run from UCS to ensure there is complete safety for youngsters taking part – work that is uploaded appears anonymously.

Information submitted is being fed through to the Raising the Bar team to see what youngsters want from their schools.

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