Graphic: Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire schools not reaching full potential – Ofsted boss

Ofsted's Regional Director, East of England Andrew Cook in Norwich. Photo : Steve Adams

Ofsted's Regional Director, East of England Andrew Cook in Norwich. Photo : Steve Adams - Credit: Archant

The region's schools are still failing to reach their full potential, an Ofsted chief has warned.

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Andrew Cook, the watchdog's regional director for the East of England, said although improvements have been made, concerns remain about the state of education in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

New to the role, Mr Cook emphasised that it is local authorities, senior leaders and teachers who must pull schools out of the black hole.

His comments come as Ofsted's chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw yesterday delivered his annual report, looking at the outcomes of inspections in 2013-14, where he said nationwide secondary education had 'stalled'.

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In the section on the East, Sir Michael described how Norfolk has one of the worst records for children attending a good or outstanding primary and secondary schools in the region.

In a stark description, the report says a child starting out in the East has a better than average chance of attending a good or outstanding early years provider – but that probability decreases as the youngster progresses to secondary and further education.

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The report notes the six percentage point increase this year in the proportion of good or outstanding primary schools in the region but added: 'Unfortunately this has not been replicated in the secondary phase, where the proportion of schools that are at least good has remained virtually static.'

Mr Cook, who replaced Sean Harford as East of England director, said having confidence in the region's schools improving depends on where people live.

'We still have concerns across the region,' he said. 'In Norfolk there has been some improvement, but there is still a lot more to do.

'Over in Suffolk there are real concerns about some of the areas. Lowestoft has a high proportion of schools that require improvement. But the main issue these schools face is that they are not doing as well as they should.'

Mr Cook said bettering struggling schools starts at the top. 'Leadership and management, they are the factors impacting on the quality of teaching and learning,' he said.

'Levels of deprivation is not an excuse. It is down to the quality of leadership, quality of governance and the quality of teaching.'

The report highlights there is a higher number of schools which require improvement in King's Lynn and Norwich and there are many weak schools clustered around the coastal areas centred on Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft.

It also emphasised the role local authorities still have in maintaining good quality of education for children.

The part Norfolk County Council played in transforming from being ineffective in supporting schools to effective from last year to this was noted also.

James Joyce, chairman of the children's services committee at Norfolk County Council, said despite the difficulties faced, some progress has been made in the county.

'This report recognises the challenging position that remains in the county, with educational performance still too low in many schools and academies,' he said.

School-to-school support has been a key part of their work, he said, but added that there is still 'a huge amount to do, particularly in challenging schools to narrow the gap between the most vulnerable children and their peers and supporting the county's secondary schools to improve standards'.

What do you think about Ofsted's findings? Write (giving your full contact details) to: The Letters Editor, EDP, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email

See tomorrow's paper and this website from 9.30am today for the region's primary school league tables.

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