“We need the national investment and support that went into the capital’s schools” – Norfolk County Council’s call following Ofsted report criticising primary school performance

Mick Castle, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for schools. Picture: James Bass

Mick Castle, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for schools. Picture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011

The government should target extra funding at education in Norfolk so it can replicate the transformation of urban schools, Norfolk County Council has said.

Ofsted regional director for the East of England Sean Harford. Photo: Steve Adams

Ofsted regional director for the East of England Sean Harford. Photo: Steve Adams

The call followed yesterday's Ofsted report on the east of England which said school leadership in the region is the weakest in the country, and strongly criticised primary school performance in Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire.

In its national report, published on the same day, Ofsted highlighted the strong performance of schools in the capital, where the London Challenge, launched in 2003, used leadership training, a focus on data and experienced advisers to drive up standards.

The scheme has been a key influence on Norfolk County Council's own improvement plan.

Schools cabinet member Mick Castle said: 'There are more than 400 schools in the county, spread across a huge area with very many different challenges. We need the national investment and support that went into the capital's schools if our strategy is to have the immediate impact that we desire.


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'We know we have the strategy and determination in place in Norfolk to succeed.

'I would urge the government to consider putting additional funding into rural and coastal regions like Norfolk so that our children can have the same advantages as those in urban areas that have already benefited.'

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Ofsted's report for the east of England said the performance of primaries in the three counties is within the bottom 10pc of English local authorities for the proportion of children attending 'good' or 'outstanding' schools.

Regional director Sean Harford said Ofsted would re-inspect Norfolk County Council's progress in July 2014, one year after it branded the council's support for school improvement 'ineffective'.

Referring to Norfolk, 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.'

It added: 'We are not walking away.'

However, the report said Norfolk's secondary schools had shown the strongest improvement in the region, although from a 'very low base'.

The report said that leadership and management of schools are weaker in the east of England than in any other region, describing this as 'a key barrier to school improvement in the region and one that must be tackled rigorously'.

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