Educating Norfolk: Guest column from South West Norfolk MP and education minister Elizabeth Truss

Elizabeth Truss MP. Picture: Ian Burt

Elizabeth Truss MP. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

We asked some of the leading figures in the world of Norfolk education to tell us what makes a good school. Here, South West Norfolk MP and education minister Elizabeth Truss gives her view.

I think you can often tell a good school when you walk through the door – there is a sense of purpose, an enthusiasm, everyone knows why they are there.

It's great to see schools where trying hard and a positive attitude are rewarded. Rather than being 'too cool for school', students see that it's cool to enjoy studying. For example, at Nicholas Hamond Academy, Maths Star Students are celebrated in each year group.

Of course the headteacher and teaching team set the tone. Critical to this is a belief that all children can achieve and no-one should be written off.

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Schools need to make sure every child has a solid grounding in core subjects like English, maths, sciences, languages and humanities. In particular we know that students who achieve good maths qualifications and study maths for longer are likely to earn significantly more during their careers and are much less likely to be unemployed.

But that is not enough. Children also have to be able to speak clearly, work with each other, develop confidence and character. They of course do this studying core subjects. And we also want to see more schools following the example of Great Yarmouth Primary Academy and Shouldham VC Primary in offering extended days and after-school clubs with activities including catch-up study, horse-riding and debating. Apart from being fun and helping parents, a wide range of activities helps develop the whole child.

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Schools can also work with businesses and universities to expose students to the opportunities out there, helping to motivate them in their studies.

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