Norfolk five-year-olds outstrip county council’s development targets
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The number of Norfolk schoolchildren who have reached expected levels of development by the end of their reception year has outstripped the council's target.
The rise, from 45pc last year to 58pc this year is a record improvement in the Early Years Foundation Stage and a boost for Norfolk County Council, given criticism it received from school watchdogs last year.
The improvement outstripped the council's target for 55pc of pupils to have hit their expected level of development.
The assessment at the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage looks at five-year-olds' personal, social and emotional development; physical development and communication and language, as well as maths and literacy.
Schools causing concern and those that require improvement have posted even greater improvements – up 19 percentage points and 24 percentage points respectively, with both groups achieving the county average of 58pc.
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Council bosses, who launched a new Early Years strategy in this academic year, said the improvement was due to the hard work and ambition of teaching staff and school leaders and better monitoring, scrutiny and challenge from the county council.
Last year, the council came in for heavy criticism from education watchdog Ofsted, which said the council was 'ineffective' when it came to supporting schools. Inspectors recently returned to check on progress.
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Concerns about the state of education in Norfolk have been building for some time, and league tables published in January marked the first time in nine years that the proportion of pupils meeting the government's key targets at GCSE level fell.
But the launch of the council's Norfolk to Good and Great scheme, which supports schools which need improvement, has been hailed as helping improve attainment.
James Joyce, chairman of the children's services committee at Norfolk County Council, said: 'Our focus throughout this year has been on improving the support and challenge we give schools, nurseries, pre-schools and childminders so that children receive the very best at every stage of their education.
'This very significant improvement in the Early Years shows that this is beginning to pay dividends and gives us hope for the future, because we know that children's achievement at the age of five is a very good indicator of how they will go on to perform at GCSE.
'The huge progress made by those schools that require improvement or are causing concern shows the impact that the more intense scrutiny, monitoring and support is having on raising attainment.'
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