Educating Norfolk: Guest column by Mick Castle, cabinet member for education at Norfolk County Council

Mick Castle. Picture: James Bass

Mick Castle. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011

We asked some of the leading figures in the world of Norfolk education to tell us what makes a good school. Here, Mick Castle, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for schools and a teacher of 13 years, gives his view.

Whatever the school, good leadership and governance are absolutely essential to its success.

A good school will always have talented teachers whose performance is monitored by the school's senior leadership team and governors.

Good quality buildings and facilities – and adequate opportunities for sport and extra-curricular activities – help to lift aspirations for pupils and the community.

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A good school is at the heart of its local community and has the respect and support of local people. It does not tolerate bullying and racism and staff, parents and pupils work together to root this out.

It is also inclusive and serves all its pupils whatever their background or ability, inspiring and encouraging them to achieve their potential.

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It values and fosters educational excellence, and supports and encourages pupils with special educational needs.

It is never complacent about teaching standards, or the achievements of its students, and supports the professional development of its teachers and support staff.

It also shares good practice throughout its community.

A good school recognises the achievements of its students and encourages them to be role models. It works closely with employers, colleges, universities and training providers to create opportunities for youngsters to engage with the world of work and understand the choices they need to make to enhance their future employment prospects.

At the county council, we are doing all we can to support and challenge schools to raise attainment.

Our aim is for all Norfolk schools to be good or outstanding by 2016 but we can't achieve this on our own. Crucially, parents can make a difference by getting involved in their school and taking a keen interest in their children's progress. Only by working together can we deliver the changes we all want to see.

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