Victoria Leggett, Education correspondent
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Fewer than 50pc of Norfolk’s secondary schools are offering an acceptable quality of education, according to Ofsted.
It means children in the county face a postcode lottery when it comes to attending a good or outstanding high school or academy – with standards varying greatly depending on where you live.
Publishing his first annual Ofsted report yesterday, chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said: “The inequities for local children are stark. This is completely unacceptable.
“That’s why I intend, from January, to use Ofsted’s new regional structure to inquire further into areas that are performing badly. We need to find out what is happening, and inspect where necessary. We will also work with local areas to support them and help them link up with best practice.”
In Norfolk, 59pc of all schools are currently rated good or outstanding following Ofsted inspections, compared with a national average of 70pc.
That is buoyed by good performances by the area’s special schools where 91pc have achieved at least a good rating and more than half have been given the top grade.
But when it comes to secondary schools and academies, that drops to just 47pc.
In both Suffolk and Cambridgeshire, 66pc of all schools achieve outstanding or good grades.
In January this year, Ofsted signalled that satisfactory was no longer considered good enough.
It angered many headteachers and teaching unions but the inspectorate stuck by its decision and scrapped the “satisfactory” grading in September, replacing it with “requires improvement”.
Alison Thomas, cabinet member for children’s services at Norfolk County Council, said she was convinced the area’s schools could do better.
She said: “Although we are narrowing the gap in key stage results and Ofsted inspection results are improving too, I am certainly not satisfied with where we are at the moment and I want to see us move up the league table in the future.
“As a parent, I share the desire of all families to ensure as many Norfolk schools as possible continue to move towards good or outstanding.”
The county councillor said she believed changes taking place across the county, including the creation of more federations for small schools, were already giving schools “renewed confidence, a sense of self determination and, in many cases, a new start”.
Gordon Boyd, assistant director of children’s services at Norfolk County Council, added: “Since the new inspection regime was introduced in September, there have been supportive comments from Ofsted and encouraging outcomes, and these are hopeful signs for the future without us being complacent in any way about our current position. We are determined to do what we can to enable all schools to learn from those that are good and outstanding, and we are challenging and supporting schools to improve performance.”