Council sticks to school improvement strategy as it issues start-of-year challenge to schools

Gordon Boyd, assistant director of education, speaking at the Norfolk headteacher conference in 2014

Gordon Boyd, assistant director of education, speaking at the Norfolk headteacher conference in 2014. Photo: Bill Smith

Norfolk County Council will 'emphatically' not change its school improvement strategy in response to this summer's primary and high school exam results, which showed improvements, but well below forecasts.

The message comes as it renews its challenge to all schools and academies by sending them a start-of-year analysis of their individual performances, giving them early sight of data that could help them adjust their curriculums or teaching.

It is the second year it has issued Flying Start packs, but the first time they are going to all governors.

Chris Snudden, head of the educational achievement service, said: 'Some of our schools that should be higher attaining and are 'good' schools, as judged by Ofsted, we are not seeing the signs of improvement.

'They are sitting at an OK level, but is it good enough? Our challenge this year is very much focusing on these schools. We need more high-performing schools.'

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She said themes included concern about maths at all key stages, and the most progress being made in areas with the most deprivation, and the least in areas with more schools judged 'good' by Ofsted.

Gordon Boyd, assistant director of children's services, said Flying Start aimed to help those responsible for school improvement.

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Asked if the school improvement strategy should be re-examined following this summer's results, he said 'emphatically, no', and added: 'The way we will get there is by everyone sticking to their guns and recognising who is responsible, and that's schools leaders. Our job is to support and challenge appropriately.

'We are not re-setting the clock. It's all part of an annual cycle of self-improvement.'

He said his preferred measure was Ofsted judgements, which consider the whole school and have been on an upward trend in Norfolk, rather summer exams, which only the oldest year groups sit.

He added: 'We are within a whisker of having a really good education system. We are not there yet, but were have the seeds of that.'

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