Norfolk five-year-olds outstrip county council’s development targets

Norfolk County Council says data collected from schools shows an improvement in youngsters' development. Norfolk County Council says data collected from schools shows an improvement in youngsters' development.

Monday, July 14, 2014
4:16 PM

The number of Norfolk schoolchildren who have reached expected levels of development by the end of their reception year has outstripped the council’s target.

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The rise, from 45pc last year to 58pc this year is a record improvement in the Early Years Foundation Stage and a boost for Norfolk County Council, given criticism it received from school watchdogs last year.

The improvement outstripped the council’s target for 55pc of pupils to have hit their expected level of development.

The assessment at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage looks at five-year-olds’ personal, social and emotional development; physical development and communication and language, as well as maths and literacy.

Schools causing concern and those that require improvement have posted even greater improvements – up 19 percentage points and 24 percentage points respectively, with both groups achieving the county average of 58pc.

Council bosses, who launched a new Early Years strategy in this academic year, said the improvement was due to the hard work and ambition of teaching staff and school leaders and better monitoring, scrutiny and challenge from the county council.

Last year, the council came in for heavy criticism from education watchdog Ofsted, which said the council was “ineffective” when it came to supporting schools. Inspectors recently returned to check on progress.

Concerns about the state of education in Norfolk have been building for some time, and league tables published in January marked the first time in nine years that the proportion of pupils meeting the government’s key targets at GCSE level fell.

But the launch of the council’s Norfolk to Good and Great scheme, which supports schools which need improvement, has been hailed as helping improve attainment.

James Joyce, chairman of the children’s services committee at Norfolk County Council, said: “Our focus throughout this year has been on improving the support and challenge we give schools, nurseries, pre-schools and childminders so that children receive the very best at every stage of their education.

“This very significant improvement in the Early Years shows that this is beginning to pay dividends and gives us hope for the future, because we know that children’s achievement at the age of five is a very good indicator of how they will go on to perform at GCSE.

“The huge progress made by those schools that require improvement or are causing concern shows the impact that the more intense scrutiny, monitoring and support is having on raising attainment.”

• Do you have a schools story? Call education reporter Martin George on 01603 772468 or email martin.george@archant.co.uk

5 comments

  • I’m concerned that NCC are patting themselves on the back when 42pc of Norfolk’s 5-yr olds have not hit their expected level of development, particularly when it is known that these early years are vital for a child’s future performance. Sadly, it seems to be the norm that parents regard it to be solely the school’s responsibility to educate their children, and until schools educate the future parents, this will only continue.

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    Honest John

    Wednesday, July 16, 2014

  • Agreed Tom. Of course the truth is that education is a joint enterprise between the family and the school. So great news for Norfolk children if this now seems to be working well.

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    Sportswagon

    Tuesday, July 15, 2014

  • Incredible views from Canary Boy. So, the implication is that when the figures are below average, it's the schools' fault and the county council. When the figures are above average it's because parents have made the difference. You couldn't make this stuff up.

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    Tom Jeffries

    Monday, July 14, 2014

  • Canary Boy, you make a good point that not everyone who falls into the classification of 'disadvantaged' is automatically going to do worse educationally; parental support and encouragement is crucial both before children start school and then working in partnership with schools. Unfortunately though, there are also an increasing number of children who start school without even the most basic of skills such as being toilet trained or being able to string a sentence together and this then impacts on the work the teachers can do with them. However, I would urge anyone who is eligible to claim free school meals to do so, even if they don't actually have the meals as that is the basis on which pupil premium is awarded and it provides essential additional funding for schools. It's not just about using the funding to support children to 'catch up' but if a child who is eligible for pupil premium is doing well (like your grandchild), the money could be utilised to provide additional resources and support to help him be even further forward and fulfilling his potential. School budgets really are so stretched these days so the additional funding from pupil premium really can make a difference.

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    Nick

    Monday, July 14, 2014

  • My grandson who was 6 last week exceeded national standard in 80 percent of his subjects reaching national standard in the remaining 20 percent. The reason for that is nothing his school has done but is down to the early teaching and continued effort his parents put in to encouraging him to read, write, count and learn about our environment. The draw back is he is way ahead of his classmates and although is given higher level reading books he could be even further forward in key subjects. His family are not financially priviledged with Dad as house husband and mum working on a zero hours contract at mimimum wage often 50 - 60 hrs per week they live in a rented 3rd floor flat. My point being not all so called disadvantaged families ignore their childrens education and therefore need their children to recieve the additional support free school dinner claims attract. Some readers will remember ncc wanted all parents eligable for free meals to claim them regardless of whether the child would eat them because the school would receive a payment for the child to offer extra educational support. My sons family would qualify but my grandson certainly wouldnt need extra support simply because they have little money! Good parents are what makes a child good or bad clever or under achieve not cllr castle or cllr joyce.

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    Canary Boy

    Monday, July 14, 2014

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

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