Lowestoft headmaster dismisses Suffolk school risk ratings as ‘glorified gibberish’

Benjamin Britten High School. The school's headteacher described the risk ratings as "glorified gibe

Benjamin Britten High School. The school's headteacher described the risk ratings as "glorified gibebrish". - Credit: Nick Butcher

Headteachers have dismissed a council's 'risk ratings' of schools, with one saying they are 'often little more than glorified gibberish' after a fight to keep the information secret was lost.

Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for children's services, Gordon Jones, said it was "unfortua

Suffolk County Council's cabinet member for children's services, Gordon Jones, said it was "unfortuante" the risk ratings data was published. - Credit: Archant

Suffolk County Council rates each primary and secondary school in three categories - 'green' if they are in a good position to achieve decent results, 'amber' if they are moving in the right direction and 'red' if they is a significant risk of underachievement.

All of Lowestoft's high schools are in the red category along with several primary schools, although many Waveney primaries feature in the amber and green sections.

However the council refused a Freedom Information request to publish the data, arguing it was not in the public interest and would cause a 'chilling effect' between education staff and schools.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) ruled that the lists should be published after our sister paper, the East Anglian Daily Times (EADT), appealed the decision, saying: 'We looked at the council's argument and concluded that we did not believe schools would be less co-operative in the future if the information was disclosed.'

Gordon Jones, the council's cabinet member for children's services, education and skills, said the publication of the data was 'unfortunate' as: 'We would have preferred for this to remain a confidential discussion between the council and each school.'

He added that the ratings are designed to show where schools risk underachieving and help produce a plan to improve things.

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But Jim McAtear, headmaster at Benjamin Britten Music Academy, said: 'The RAG (red-amber-green) ratings are of no use or value to me as a headmaster in any way, shape or form whatsoever.

'The improvements to Benjamin Britten Music Academy owe everything to the work of the staff there and nothing to the RAG ratings.

'They are largely out of date and often little more than glorified gibberish.'

Mr McAtear is also headmaster of Hartismere High School in Eye, Suffolk, which is in the green category.

What do you think about the publication of the RAG ratings? Write, giving your full contact details, to: Jornal Postbox, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1NB or email andrew.papworth@archant.co.uk