Children only get one chance at an education – but for too long, too many children in the region have been let down, left out and left behind.

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For years, Norfolk’s schools have lagged behind the rest of the country and Ofsted’s annual report published this week showed that many schools are still not good enough.

According to Ofsted, the east of England has fewer good or
outstanding schools, and more failing or inadequate schools, than anywhere else in the country. Of last year’s school-leavers, just over
two-fifths (41pc) in Norfolk progressed to higher education – a full 7 percentage points lower than the national figures – and only 5pc of Norfolk students went on to a Russell Group university, compared to 8pc nationally.

However, there is positive news: the annual Ofsted report observed that in the East of England, “secondary schools... are beginning to get better”.

Over the last few years this government has taken urgent action to drive up standards at schools in the region as well as across the entire country. And thanks to hard work from teachers, pupils and parents, results are starting to look up.

Failing schools are being taken over by brilliant academy sponsors with a proven track record of success.

Their intervention is already having a huge impact, for example Thetford Academy, taken over by the Inspiration Trust in September this year.

The recent Ofsted monitoring report noted the positive ethos at the school, highlighting that progress is being made across the board. Students commented “that they felt the academy was a different place to last year”. With its new £19m school buildings, complete with state-of-the- art new science and ICT facilities, the drive and enthusiasm by both teachers and students to raise standards is to be congratulated.

There is Ormiston Victory Academy in Costessey and Ormiston Venture Academy in Great Yarmouth, two new academies which opened in September 2010, replacing schools that had been under-performing for many years.

Three years on, they are some of the most improved schools in the country – the proportion of pupils achieving five or more A*-C GCSE grades in English and maths has already increased by more than 20 percentage points in Ormiston Venture, 35 percentage points in Ormiston Victory – and in May, both academies were judged “outstanding” by Ofsted.

Right across the county, innovative new schools are also offering pupils and parents more choice.

The entirely new Free School Norwich is offering parents high-quality childcare from 8am to 6pm, 51 weeks of the year, while Thetford Free School has received funding to provide alternative provision locally for vulnerable children.

Sir Isaac Newton free school in Norwich, a specialist maths and science school, is another great example. Last year, the proportion of pupils in Norfolk getting an A or A* at A-level was below the national average in biology, physics, chemistry and further maths, some of the subjects most prized by employers and universities. The school is now encouraging more young people from all over the county to study these high-value subjects.

Autumn 2014 will see the opening of the Jane Austen College free school. Specialising in English and humanities, a typical day is expected to finish at 5pm, with homework clubs and after school activities all incorporated within the school day.

As these brilliant achievements show, failing schools can be turned around – and quickly – and new schools can bring a top-quality education to communities under-served for generations.

Councils and teachers are getting involved through other inspirational initiatives like West Norfolk’s “Improving Attainment” programme and the Teach First scheme for exceptional graduates, which is coming to Norfolk for the first time from 2014.

Secondary schools of all types are upping their game – like Downham Market Academy, which has started to offer Saturday classes nicknamed “Mr Matthews’ breakfast experience”; the combination of bacon butties and extra tuition has proved highly popular with students keen to improve their grades.

All in all, children across the country now have a better chance than ever of attending a good or outstanding school, taught by the best ever generation of young teachers.

So it’s vital now that we keep the momentum up, keep focused on encouraging all schools to improve, and keep supporting those which are struggling. Most of all, we need the same sort of transformation in primary schools as we’re starting to see in secondary – so we’ve introduced new funding for clusters of primary schools wanting to convert to academies.

My colleague Lord Nash recently visited Norfolk to encourage more great schools, business leaders and brilliant academy sponsors like the Inspiration Trust to get involved in turning around under-performing schools – whether as governors, as academy sponsors at both primary and secondary, or by offering work experience opportunities to pupils.

With their help, and the dedication and commitment of teachers and parents, we can make sure that more pupils in Norfolk than ever before get the sort of world-class education that will give them the best possible start to their future.

9 comments

  • Nothing more to add to the previous comments which say all that is necessary in dismissing this awful garbage. You really ought to be ashamed at having had the gall to publish such propaganda. We seem to have in Norfolk two young lady MPs whose re-election publicity read more like suicide notes.

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    guella

    Sunday, December 15, 2013

  • My word, another uncritical article by the EDP What about the Diamond Academy on the list of failing primary schools? I predict that when there is a change of regime the lid will be blown off these academy successes and it will be shown that their real successes were no more than should have been expected given the ability of their pupils and that other achievements hailed as success by Ofsted were down to smoke and mirrors. We might even get to hear about how much funding was diverted into the coffers of academy providers to pay superfluous management salaries. And we in Norfolk, unless relocated from Liverpool or Yorkshire do not eat " butties". Effective teaching should not need Saturday morning attendance-my school managed on a four and a half day week.

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    Daisy Roots

    Saturday, December 14, 2013

  • Hang on a minute...let's have some clarity here. For a start Truss is demonstrating her complete lack of knowledge about Norfolk schs yet this is her Government brief. Her Government's policies and until very recently her local government policies have wrecked education.....just look at the free sch mess. True Ormiston is doing well but of the 50% of Norfolk's high schs that are academies half of them are in a failing or requires improvement category and doing no better than the LA schs. She of course forgets to mention the Outstanding Aylsham High Sch which isn't an academy so in her eyes a non-school, yet she praises academies barely yet open and Norwich Free Sch where horrible bullying is mentioned in their Ofsted report. Even though I am opposed to academies at least I can acknowledge the Ormiston successes unlike Truss who appears blinkered and ignorant of what is really happening. Liz, what about the excellent Toftwood Infant School, North Walsham Inf, Shouldham, Wymondham primaries etc.....ALL non academies but brilliant schools. Incidentally, I heard that the Nash visit was a disaster with the usual Government lackeys in tow and mostly weaker schs represented where a only tiny minority agreed to be sponsor......forgot that too Liz...eh!!!

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    Sportswagon

    Saturday, December 14, 2013

  • So the EDP is now published by Tory Central Office?

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    Dictate

    Saturday, December 14, 2013

  • This is an article drivelling on about how some schools in Norfolk are doing slightly less awfully than they did last year, presumably because a couple of smart cookie children have managed to get good marks. Why oh why does it have a large picture of Truss gurning from the top? And FYI the vast vast vast majority of students getting into Oxbridge and Russell Universities come from private schools. The Norwich School, the best in Norfolk, has 40 students aiming for Oxbridge alone in their sixth form. That is probably more than all the state schools put together. Explain that one away Ms Truss.

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    alecto

    Saturday, December 14, 2013

  • Hear hear Morris. Ms Truss' ability to only acknowledge and recognise successful schools when they are academies shows an appalling lack of respect for the many dedicated and talented teachers doing great work outside of the academy system. Yes there is a lot of work to be done across the county and academisation may be helping to address problems in some schools but one size does not fit all. High schools such as Aylsham and Thorpe High Schools are also successful without being academies so it's a shame that Ms Truss doesn't feel able to acknowledge this. There are also numerous primaries which are good or outstanding, including several currently noted on this website following recent successful Ofsted inspections, which proves that success isn't only achievable via the academy system.

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    N

    Sunday, December 15, 2013

  • Well said N. Also means it is possible (unlikely, but possible) to get good or outstanding from Ofsted without resorting to phoning friends in high places (allegedly!)

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    TheTruth

    Sunday, December 15, 2013

  • Wow. Ormiston and Inspiration Trust in one article. Seriously does anyone really believe a word of this?

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    TheTruth

    Saturday, December 14, 2013

  • Elizabeth Truss did not mention the Open Academy, Norwich. After five years of being an academy with a 22 million pound new building and a hugh turnover of staff. This summer 35% A*-C, under performing in terms of the goverments specifications and a recent Ofsted inspection(July 2013) which stated "requires improvement". Daisy Root is exactly right, once we see a change of regime and greater scrutiny into how the funding has been used in these new flagship academies, we might get a clearer picture of what is actually going on.

    Report this comment

    GreyMan

    Saturday, December 14, 2013

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