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Number of top-rated schools in Norfolk is on the rise

PUBLISHED: 08:18 21 November 2018 | UPDATED: 08:25 21 November 2018

Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form, which is among the schools ranked as outstanding by Ofsted. Figures from the education watchdog show the number of schools ranked as good or outstanding in Norfolk is on the rise. Photo: Inspiration Trust

Sir Isaac Newton Sixth Form, which is among the schools ranked as outstanding by Ofsted. Figures from the education watchdog show the number of schools ranked as good or outstanding in Norfolk is on the rise. Photo: Inspiration Trust

Inspiration Trust

Norfolk’s schools are pulling up their socks in the quest for improvement, according to new figures from the education watchdog.

As of October 31 more than four in every five of the county’s schools have been judged good or outstanding by Ofsted, in line with the regional average of 85pc.

Out of the 418 schools inspected, 53 are rated outstanding and 297 good. Meanwhile, 15 schools are ranked as inadequate, the lowest rating, and 53 require improvement.

Out of the 52 secondary schools inspected in Norfolk, six are rated outstanding, 36 are classed as good, seven require improvement and three are inadequate.

It is a significant turnaround from five years ago, when the then-head of Ofsted Sir Michael Wilshaw declared that “too many” schools in the county were failing.

Following focused inspections at 28 schools in March 2013, 12 schools previously judged to be satisfactory (grade three) were given the new grade three ranking of “requires improvement”, while six which had “declined in their overall effectiveness” were placed into special measures.

Ofsted said the results raised “considerable concern” and placed some of the blame with Norfolk County Council, which it said had “not established... a sustainable model for school improvement”.

An Eastern Daily Press report in 2013 found that, of the schools inspected in Norfolk so far that year, 45pc had been ranked as requiring improvement and almost one in 10 was inadequate.

But a follow-up report from Ofsted in 2014 found the county council had put in place “effective” measures for school improvement which were demonstrating, with a data-driven approach and “swift” intervention in under-performing 
schools.

A spokesperson for Norfolk County Council responded to the improvements, saying they were a result of hard work.

“Norfolk school improvements highlight how well school leaders, teachers, children and their families and those across the education sector are working together to continue to improve so they do the best for Norfolk’s children,” she said.

“Over the past five years a tremendous amount of work has gone into improving school performance in the county and we are particularly pleased that student progress at GCSE is now above the national average.

“We will continue to support and challenge schools to improve so that Norfolk’s children get the very best education.”

In the same five-year period, GCSE results in Norfolk have also seen an uplift.

In the 2012-13 academic year, 54.4pc of students at secondary schools in Norfolk achieved five A* to C GCSE grades including English and Maths.

Provisional results for 2018 show 62pc achieved 9 to 4 passes in English and Maths – the near-equivalent to A* to C grades under the new grading system.

A Department for Education spokesman said that the number of schools rated as inadequate or requires improvement has decreased from 32pc in 2010 to 14pc in March 2018.

The age of academies

Since 2013 the academisation of schools in Norfolk has gathered pace.

By the start of 2018 some 85pc of secondary schools and almost 43pc of primary schools in the county had converted.

Dame Rachel de Souza, chief executive of Inspiration Trust, said: “The key thing that academies deliver is a fresh start and the chance to do things in different ways. That reinvigoration has benefitted all schools, not just those that have formally become academies.”

She added: “Academy conversions like Hethersett Academy have seen schools go from special measures to outstanding, and massively improved outcomes for our children.”

Paul Dunning is director of education at the Diocese of Norwich which runs 110 schools and academies, of which 86pc are good or outstanding. He said: “The strength of support from a team of dedicated school improvement staff has helped the headteachers and staff in each academy to achieve these good results.”

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