Ofsted annual report: 126 Norfolk primary schools are “not yet good enough”; report recognises improvement in county’s secondary schools; inspectors say “we are not walking away”
Ofsted has pledged to keep up the pressure on standards in Norfolk's primary schools after data published today said the county is in the bottom 10 in the country for the percentage of pupils at 'good' or 'outstanding' primary schools.
In its first East of England regional report, the school inspectorate's regional director Sean Harford said Ofsted would re-inspect the county council's progress in July 2014, one year after it branded the council's support for school improvement 'ineffective'.
The report said: '126 primary schools educating over 20,000 children are not yet good enough. Worse still, 8pc of secondary schools remain inadequate – twice the proportion of inadequate schools seen nationally.
'By the end of the year, over 6,000 pupils found themselves attending inadequate primary or secondary schools in the county.
'This gives us great cause for concern and, as a result, we are monitoring the local authority's progress and will make a return inspection by the end of July 2014 to check whether the children and young people of Norfolk are getting a better deal.
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'We are working with the local authority, headteachers and Members of Parliament to help ensure that things improve rapidly – we are not walking away.'
The report said test and exam results 'have been too low for too long', and the local authority has been 'too slow to challenge weaker schools'.
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However, the report also recognised recent improvement in the county's secondary schools.
It said: 'Norfolk has seen some improvement over the last year. Its secondary schools have shown the strongest improvement in the region, albeit from a very low base.
'Clearly, some schools are responding to the tough new agenda and challenging themselves to do better. The local authority has developed a strategy that provides a clear statement of intent to challenge and support schools to improve. It has begun to challenge more robustly schools
that are underperforming by issuing warning notices.
'However, the improvements at primary level have been modest compared with the rest of the country and the gap has widened over the last four years.'
The report singled out three schools in the east of England as case studies - two of them from Norfolk.
On Victory Academy, in Costessey, the report said: 'Less than four years after its predecessor school was in special measures, Ormiston Victory Academy in Norfolk has transformed provision and outcomes for students in its local community.'
It described then-principal Rachel de Souza as 'an outstanding leader', and added 'the academy has demonstrated that high aspiration can achieve remarkable results when exceptional leadership sets the highest expectations of its students and staff'.
The report said St Martin at Shouldham Primary School, near King's Lynn, was judged outstanding in March 2013, and said 'the school's pursuit of excellence in all its activities is demonstrated by an uncompromising drive to improve and maintain the highest levels of academic progress. This is apparent at all levels of leadership and management.'