Educating Norfolk: The rural dimension

07:00 25 February 2014

Jon Clemo, chief executive of the Norfolk rural community council.
Photo: Bill Smith

Jon Clemo, chief executive of the Norfolk rural community council. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2011

For years, a whole series of issues facing education in Norfolk have been grouped together under the banner of ‘rurality’.

Jon Clemo, chief executive of the Norfolk rural community council, said: “Norfolk has faced a historical challenge of relatively low skills and aspiration and therefore relatively low ambition, and that is accentuated in rural areas.”

He said the skills gap particularly damages youth employment in Norfolk because there are a large number of small and medium-sized firms which do not have the capacity to train young staff in skills they may lack on entry.

He said: “It’s very hard for a business to make any other decision in interviews than to go with the person who has many more years’ experience, rather than the young person who may have great potential but would require investment.”

He highlighted two specific ways rurality affects education in the county: the tension between retaining small village schools and providing better facilities and expertise at larger schools, and long commutes to sixth form that see a number of students drop out by the winter of their first term.

He said Norfolk still has a reputation as “the graveyard of ambition”, and it was vital to improve the county’s reputation, both internally and externally.

He added: “There’s a challenge in helping young people see where they want to aim at, and setting that point high enough that it pushes them to maximise their potential, but is still sensible and achievable. We have struggled to get that right.”


  • Well my well reasoned comment did not appear -here are the basics This is a fallacy and a long standing insult to Norfolk-the only lack of aspiration that has ever existed in Norfolk rural communities has been from the professionals meant to serve them. Those who come from poor rural aras know the only way to get on is to get out and education is the way.Tthe failings are of the professionals, especially those from out of county, and those responsible for education who use rurality as an excuse. They have been doing it for decades, whilst Norfolk people have always wanted what is best for their kids and have had to endure complacency, bad transport, grotty little schools and too many teachers in the past who were happy with an easy life. Try saying the same thing about rural Scotland and see how you get on

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    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

  • The opening statement by Jon Clemo sums up the prejudices that Norfolk people have had to deal with since the year dot. I do not recognise this wisdom about low aspiration and low attainment in Norfolk that has been bandied about by professionals, but I do recognise it from professionals and my former headmistress at a Norfolk grammar school was as guilty as any about low aspirations for the majority of her pupils who were from rural back grounds. Fortunately many pupils who came from non professional homes saw what those who had parents who were graduates were expecting to do and lifted their aspirations accordingly. I went to a 28 pupil primary school, it produced teachers, solicitors, engineers, health professionals Oxbridge graduates-pupils from families as diverse as USAAF airmen, factory managers plumbers and farm workers. In my experience rural people have always wanted the best for their children, I know some of the older generation whose parents scraped a fee for grammar schools when it was still possible to attend even if a scholarship was not passed. If Norfolk is known as the grave yard of ambition it is surely only amongst those who excuse failing our kids with poor facilities, tinpot buildings from little old former secondary schools, bad school transport and a rotten economy. The only part of this article I can agree with is the effect of low income and commutes on drop out rates and the lack of training for employees.This is something the government has to help small employers with -the wage structure is part of the problem eg a farmer may hire an adult EU worker because he cant afford the wage a young trainee has to be paid

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    Daisy Roots

    Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The views expressed in the above comments do not necessarily reflect the views of this site


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