Graphic: Norwich branded worst for GCSEs in England - but what else does new data tell us about education in our region?

Norfolk County Council assistant director of children services Gordon Boyd. Photo: Steve Adams Norfolk County Council assistant director of children services Gordon Boyd. Photo: Steve Adams

Saturday, June 21, 2014
8:00 AM

There have long been concerns about education in Norfolk and Suffolk, but a new analysis which breaks down the performance into smaller geographical units has thrown a harsh spotlight on particular areas.

To send a link to this page to a friend, you must be logged in.

Most worrying will be national news coverage branding Norwich the worst local authority area in England for GCSE results in 2013, closely followed by Waveney and Great Yarmouth, in second and third respectively.

But the data covers more than just GCSEs, and highlights concerns about more than just these three parts of our region.

Click here to see a graphic showing what the new government data tells about education in our region

Norwich is the worst city in England for GCSE results according to new government data

Forest Heath, Breckland, Fenland and West Norfolk were also among the bottom 50 of the 326 local authorities in England for the percentage of pupils achieving the gold standard of five GCSEs at grades A*-C, including English and maths.

And West Norfolk and Waveney are consistently among the lowest performing areas in England for children at infant, junior and college levels, as well as for school absenteeism.

There are brighter spots, with children in south Norfolk and Broadland consistently doing better in these categories.

Notable among Norwich’s GCSE results was the poor performance of Norfolk’s first two academies - The Open Academy and City Academy - both of which fell below government’s floor standard.

Gordon Boyd, assistant director of children’s services, is in no doubt about how bad last year’s performance was, describing the GCSE results of Norwich as “paltry”, but said it was difficult to assign simple causes.

He said: “There is no doubt that the map mirrors patterns of social deprivation. The reason we would not use that as an excuse or mitigation, which we tended to do in the past, is because there are other places in the country, and the county, that buck the trend. There is no reason at all why the poorest children should not be given a cracking education.”

Jonathan Rice, chairman of the Norfolk Primary Heads’ Association in the west of the county, highlighted issues of rural deprivation common to much of the county, saying there was a clear link between deprivation and achievement.

He added that even in areas where parents have above-average incomes, often the number who had gone to university was below average, possibly affecting their view of the value of education.

However, he said: “It’s down to us to improve quality of teaching in schools and I’m not suggesting for a moment it is just an issue of parents and parental engagement. It’s a partnership.”

He said the last 12 months, a period subsequent to this week’s DfE data, was a particular focus on improving outcomes, and anecdotal evidence suggested the picture is improving.

Regarding Waveney, Suffolk County Council pointed to indicators of deprivation in north Lowestoft, where it said the percentage of the school population in the lowest band was four times the Suffolk average, and the number in the highest band was half the county average.

Two of Lowestoft’s high schools - both sponsored academies - were in special measures.

A council spokesman said: “We are having robust conversations with the Department of Education about the standards in the two academies and continue to work closely with the area maintained school to ensure standards rise.”

How do you rate education in our region? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

17 comments

  • After reading all the comments on the two failing academies in Norwich and in particular The Open Academy, surely there needs to be a full investigation into the use of tax payers money, staffing levels and the level of competence of the senior management team and in particular the principal

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    GreyMan

    Friday, June 27, 2014

  • So now we really know what a complete corrupt con this all is. An article in The Guardian says an "intriguing rumour suggests a verdict (for the inspection) has already been prepared, with Norfolk to be ordered to work with three 'partner' bodies in its school improvement drive". It said one of the partners could be the Inspiration Trust, which runs a number of free schools and academies across Norfolk. Mr Cameron ought to be very careful of who he makes friends with bearing in mind the Coulson debacle...next the RDS one!!

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • This can't and doesn't happen in LA schools but it is the norm in academies that set their own huge pay scales for multi-layered leadership teams often for below par exam results.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Wednesday, June 25, 2014

  • It is perfectly true that the senior management of the Open Academy, receive substantial bonuses every year despite, the fact that their students under-achieve the national standards by a significant margin. You may well ask yourself how is possible. It is sadly and the principal receives £100,000 of the tax payers money running an under subscribed school of only 550 pupils. He likes to vaunt imaginary claims of success yet the government figures clearly prove that he is a fantasist. His school rates 3rd from the bottom in Norfolk and in the bottom 10% of the country. In the name of reason, why are such people allowed to function with impunity. Surely the emperors new clothes is only a story and not to be taken literally.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    mourne

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

  • Norfolk and Suffolk are far worse funded than the urban North. Yes it does seem that NCC are in cahoots with Gove and want to rid themselves of 25% of schs to become academies so that they become the DfE's problem or Ofsted's .....ha ha ha. Then we will see real failure.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Tuesday, June 24, 2014

  • Funding and social deprivation are the two most accurate predictors of academic achievement. Pointing to a few outliers doesn't change that fact, and by playing them down as factors, Gordon Boyd is doing Gove's dirty work for him. It seems that the ideal solution for both NCC and the DfE is for every school to become an academy - the DfE get more of Gove's ideology enacted, and NCC get to avoid the blame for poor results. It doesn't achieve anything, as Open and City show, but children are well down the list of priorities.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    djw

    Monday, June 23, 2014

  • Whatever happens, lets not blame school children for it. Its down to the constant disruption by morally guided politicians interfering the moment they get elected. lets take education and funding away from political machinations and leave it to the local LEA and a team from Indusrty, academia, parent Governors and teachers to establish what changes if any have to be enacted, what new policies and subjects to the studied. If it is to placate Chinese industry abroad, then by Gove, they will have to study Mandarin. But such industrial political demands should not be used to enforce a straight jacket on children, if they like to study Spanish or French, then that should be equally encouraged.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    ingo wagenknecht

    Monday, June 23, 2014

  • Academies are not responsible to the LEA. Tory ideology has deemed that LEAs are the reason for allmuch that is wrong with education, hence the academy programme. Academies appear to be accountable only to the DFE. At least with the LEA system, there is an element of democratic accountability. Elected politicians wereare responsible for appointing the LEA officials. It's not quite as simple as that because governors are also responsible for schools. In Academy schools there is no requirement for there to be staff or parent governors (though in the vast majority of academies there are). The system has become too fragmented with Free Schools in the equation too. In Norwich vast amounts of money have been spent setting up the Isaac Newton and Jane Austen Free Schools when there is clearly no demographic need for them, in ares where they are likely to cause traffic problems and in prime city centre sites. It's time we heard about their cost. I've heard the figure of £4 million mentioned re the Isaac Newton School and they also seem coy about their student numbers. less coy about Dame de Souza's trip to Downing Street with the head of the Isaac Newton 6th form.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    pablo

    Monday, June 23, 2014

  • This was always a political and Ofsted witch hunt due to Norfolk ignoring academy status. The REAL issues have always been about funding and changing the laid back culture in Norfolk and Suffolk. The money thrown at London schools brought great results from worst to best and the money poured into Norfolk schools this year will doubtless have a similar impact. What they don't tell you is that Norfolk and Suffolk are the WORST funded counties in the country and all LA GCSE results almost perfectly match LA funding levels. This is so glaringly proved by London being way above the Nat av funding and having the best GCSE results.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Sportswagon

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

  • Not only that GreyMan, but the Open recently appointed ex county senior advisor as their new vice principal (under an interesting application procedure to say the least). So someone from a failing LEA moves into a position in a failing school. How can this be a recipe for improvement?

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    TheTruth

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

  • The Open, has been an academy for nearly six years with millions of pounds spent on a new building, uniforms, computers for the pupils and large salaries and bonuses for the senior managers. With a large turnover of new staff since the current Principal, who has been in place for the last 45 years, who has continued to be responsible for the current staffing levels, with last years results 34% A*-C and an Ofsted inspection last July which stated "requires improvement", who is being held responsible for the this under performing academy. Surely it has to be the senior management team and in particular the Principal of the last 45 years.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    GreyMan

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

  • ps Mr Boyd looks quite satisfied and content in that photo. So all is right with the world?

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Patrick

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

  • If I remember correctly, there was a lot of criticism of Ofsted over the last year when they highlighted what they saw as problems in Norfolk. What have those individuals got to say for themselves now? They are letting down our children. Daisy is partly right - and I know this is a generalisation and certainly does not apply to everyone - but there is also the matter of expectations right across the board - NCC, teachers, parents and pupils. The latter may have been led to believe they are doing ok as indeed perhaps parents too. Clearly they both need to set their sights higher and need help to get there. NCC and teachers will have to do better - no amount of protest can disguise that they have been letting down too many children. Lastly, is Lisa Christensen still proud of her achievements?

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    andy

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

  • Oh dear. What a lot of words we expend in hot air without actually doing anything! 'Social deprivation' is not an excuse for poor learning, Mr Boyd agrees. Of course it's not. "It's downup to us to improve teaching in schools" but what about improving learning and the wish and will to learn? What about parental interest in their children? It's not just money .. it's will and getting on with the job without being encumbered by politicians and by targets and excuses. Go to it.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Patrick

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

  • Don't forget England also encompasses the North Daisy, what about all the schools in them areas that do not have the inflated pay as the Home Counties, and larger population of deprived children, they still out perform Norfolk, there is no one answer. New teachers can be just as inspirational as established teachers, and can breath new life into a department.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Kc1

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

  • Money money money. We can't expect to do enough for our children if they are as deprived as children in inner cities but the schools get nowhere near the funding per pupil. Everyone knows that even in the 70s teachers were more likely to find a better paid job-a position of responsibility and the relevant pay scale- if they looked to the Home Counties or metropolitan boroughs. Norfolk and Suffolk have a problem ( because of geography and the local economy) attracting married teachers wishing to relocate who have partners needing also to find a job.If professional and management jobs are thin on the ground for those partners , experienced staff will not move here- we end up with newly qualified teachers or those just circulating around the local system. And if the LEA fails to have high expectations of those teachers ( which we know has been the case) then the children are going to have a tough time doing well. The schools mentioned have always been difficult, they have difficult catchment areas and needed more help than they have been given.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    Daisy Roots

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

  • "paultry" ?!! Say no more.

    Add your comment | Report this comment

    la barbe

    Saturday, June 21, 2014

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

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Norfolk Weather

Overcast

Overcast

max temp: 10°C

min temp: 12°C

Five-day forecast

loading...

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT