Press release

1 in 3 Suffolk children's primary school is not good enough

Coordinated inspections in Suffolk to find out why the local authority has a disproportionate number of under-performing schools.

A group of primary school pupils in a classroom

Ofsted’s latest data from 30 June 2013, found that over 15,000 children are attending a primary school that was judged to be less than good at its last inspection. That’s 76 primary schools in the local authority area that are not providing the expected level of education for their children. This is worse than the quality of primary schools across England and is an unacceptable situation.

In Suffolk, 30 per cent of primary schools are not yet good, compared with 28 per cent in the East of England and 21 per cent nationally.

Over 30 focused school inspections will be taking place in the authority as a result of Ofsted’s findings that the proportion of children attending a good or better school is currently well below the national average.

At the same time Ofsted will conduct a telephone survey of a number of schools in Suffolk, which are not being inspected.

The exercise marks a concerted programme of action by Ofsted to establish why children in some parts of the country have a much lower chance of attending a good or better school compared to areas with a similar demographic.

Sean Harford, Regional Director for the East of England said:

Children only get one chance of an education. As Regional Director for the East of England, I want to tackle the variations highlighted in our Annual Report, and more recently in HMCI’s Unseen Children report, to drive improvement in all schools in this region.

All parents should have the same opportunity to send their children to a good or better school but in Suffolk the chance of being able to do so is much lower than in other parts of the country.

That is why today and over the next week, my inspectors will be visiting a number of schools in Suffolk to find out whether performance is improving. We will be paying particular attention to the effectiveness and impact of the support these schools are receiving from the local authority.

These inspections, which were scheduled to take place this academic year but are being brought forward, will include all types of schools - although the majority will be primary schools.

The inspections and telephone surveys will give a powerful snapshot of not only how well these particular schools are doing in Suffolk but also a strong indication of the quality of external support and direction given to the schools by the local authority.

The findings and any recommendations will be shared with the local authority as well as schools, parents and the wider public. If Ofsted finds that the local authority is proactive in addressing key issues and that standards in schools are improving, this will be made clear in the letter setting out the principal findings to the local authority.

However, if there is evidence that the local authority is not fulfilling its statutory duty to promote high standards and fair access to educational opportunity, Ofsted may consider carrying out an inspection of the authority’s school improvement function under the new framework.

The local authority school improvement framework, which took effect in June this year, enables Ofsted for the first time to inspect the school improvement functions of any local authority where there are concerns that the statutory duty to improve school standards is not being met. This may include areas where the performance of schools has declined since the data was collected for the last Annual Report.

Notes to editors

  1. Sean Harford, Regional Director for East of England will be available for interviews on Tuesday 10 September 2013. Please call Ofsted’s Press Office for interview requests.
  2. The framework for the inspection of local authority arrangements for supporting school improvement

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Published 10 September 2013