Ten education stories you may have missed this summer

Regional schools commissioner Tim Coulson predicted more Norfolk primary schools will become academi

Regional schools commissioner Tim Coulson predicted more Norfolk primary schools will become academies. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

The summer holiday was an unusually busy period for education news. As pupils prepare to start the new school year today, here is a round up of 10 important stories you may have missed over the break.

Rise in primary school academies

Tim Coulson, who is rapidly becoming one of the most influential education leaders in our region as Regional Schools Commissioner, signalled a big increase in the number of primary schools that will become academies this academic year.

He also said he expected more primary schools to sponsor other academies, and said he would talk to top-performing non-academies such as Thorpe St Andrew School and Aylsham High School about becoming academy sponsors.


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Free school to go into special measures

A pioneering free school for children who find it hard to cope in mainstream schools is set to go into special measures when a highly-critical Ofsted report is due to be published this month.

The Department for Education had considered closing the Thetford Alternative Provision Free School, which is in the constituency of former education minister and free school champion Elizabeth Truss. However, its future is believed to be secure after it was taken over by the Engage Trust.

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Norfolk has the joint-highest primary exclusion rate in England

New government figures showed Norfolk had the highest rate of primary school children being expelled from their schools.

The 44 children permanently excluded in 2013-14 represented 0.07pc of the primary population, putting the county on a par with Tameside, Lincolnshire and Birmingham.

Norfolk County Council said it had set up a new Education Inclusion Service.

Cyber-bullying inside our schools has surged

An annual bullying survey revealed that more than a third of Norfolk children who said they had been bullied in school had suffered cyber-bullying. In 2009, the figure was 13pc.

Rita Adair, senior lead educational psychologist at Norfolk County Council, said it reflected national trends, but the increase in cyber-bullying was 'clearly the most worrying of all the statistics'.

Controversial Hewett School sponsor approved

The government confirmed its most controversial decision about education in Norfolk in recent years: the Hewett School would become an academy, and be sponsored by the Inspiration Trust. It official transferred on September 1.

The decision sparked anger from community campaigners who fought a high-profile campaign against academisation, but Inspiration Trust chief executive Dame Rachel de Souza said she saw 'thrilled by the opportunity to make the Hewett great again for the people of Norwich'.

More parents fined for children missing school

There has been a big rise in parents fined because of their children missing school.

The number of fixed penalty notices in Norfolk rose from 490 in 2013-14, to 2,747 in 2014-15.

Val Creasy, attendance and exclusion strategy manager for Norfolk County Council, said: 'The bottom line is that the more of school children miss, the more if affects their attainment. A child has a right to an education and we have a duty to ensure they get that.'

Record A-level results

Norfolk teenagers helped the county secure its best-ever A-level results, according to provision figures.

The county council said 76pc of grades were at A*-C, compared to 75pc last year.

GCSE results - the good and the bad

The proportion of teenagers getting the government's target GCSE results rose in Norfolk and Suffolk, according to early figures.

Hethersett Academy, Ormiston Venture Academy and some schools in west Norfolk posted particularly impressive rises in pupils gaining at least five GCSEs at A*-C, including English and maths.

But City Academy Norwich and Ormiston Victory Academy failed to improve already poor results, and three new free schools in Suffolk failed to exceed the government's target of at least 40pc of pupils gaining the gold standard.

Big rise in child mental health cases

There has been a 84pc rise in under-18s in referred for mental health problems over the last three years in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Child experts cited increased pressures on young people, reductions in support services provided elsewhere and a disappearing stigma in people admitting to problems.

Primary school results spark government concern

The schools minister will haul in Norfolk County Council's education chiefs after the county was named as the joint-eighth worst in England for end-of-primary-school exam results.

The SATs results showed a one percentage point increase in Norfolk children achieving the expected level in reading, writing and maths - up to 75pc - but the county remained five percentage point below the England average for the third year.

Suffolk saw a three percentage point rise, to 77pc, while Cambridge improved by two percentage points, to 78pc.

Do you have an education story? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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