Norfolk failing schools increase

STEVE DOWNES The number of Norfolk schools judged to be “failing” their children has more than doubled in one term, it was revealed last night.The number of schools put in special measures by unimpressed inspectors has risen from three to six since September, while those given a “notice to improve” - the next step down - has increased from two to five.

STEVE DOWNES

The number of Norfolk schools judged to be “failing” their children has more than doubled in one term, it was revealed last night.

The number put in special measures by unimpressed inspectors has risen from three to six since September, while those given a “notice to improve” - the next step down - has increased from two to five.

But Norfolk education chiefs said the county's schools were “not getting worse”, and said the change was down to a toughening of the inspection regime by Ofsted.

The apparent decline was reflected nationally, as Ofsted revealed that the number of English schools in special measures rose by 17pc, from 208 to 243, last term. Those with a notice to improve rose from 312 to 367.

The figures came a few months after the inspection body took steps to raise the bar for schools - making it more difficult for them to achieve “satisfactory” or “good” ratings, and more likely to find themselves among those classed as “failing”.

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Rosalie Monbiot, Norfolk's cabinet member for children's services, said: “These figures do not mean that Norfolk's schools are getting worse. Ofsted has increasingly exacting standards of its expectations about schools - and rightly so.

“In Norfolk we have a very successful track record of supporting schools out of Ofsted categories like special measures.”

In September, Angel Road First in Norwich, Burnham Market Primary and Clackclose Primary at Downham Market were in special measures. Reffley School and The Park High, both at King's Lynn, had a notice to improve.

Now there are six on special measures:

Abbey Junior, Thetford

Angel Road First

Burnham Market Primary

Clackclose Primary

Horsford Middle

North Denes Middle, Yarmouth.

There are five with a notice to improve:

The Park High

Reffley School

Thurton Primary

Waveney First, Belton, near Yarmouth

Whitefriars Primary, King's Lynn.

In Suffolk, there are four schools currently in special measures, compared with two last September. The figure is at its highest for years.

Cambridgeshire has two in special measures and three with a notice to improve. In Septem-ber, the figures were one and three.

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers said ministers seemed to have scored “a spectacular own goal. In 'raising the bar' the government has given the impression that standards of education in schools are going down, whereas the reverse is true,” he said.

Chris Keates, general secretary of teachers' union NASUWT, said: “The constant moving of the goalposts to define what constitutes satisfactory or unsatisfactory means Ofsted's pronouncements are increasingly unreliable.”

Schools minister Jim Knight said standards were rising: “Despite a small rise in the number of schools in special measures, the total still remains below 1pc of all schools, and half the number that were in special measures in 1998.”