County Council coughs up £500k to help failing schools

Council leader Stewart Young has found £500,000 to help secondary schools in the county improve following criticism from Ofstead.

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County Council expect to see a 'difference in the summer'

Schools inspectors say children in Cumbria are being 'seriously let down' by secondary education in the county.

OFSTED has today published its findings after visiting seventeen schools across the county.

The part of the County Council department responsible for secondary education is the Department for Children's Services.

Pam spoke to Assistant Director Caroline Sutton, and asked for her response.

'Serious concerns' over Cumbria's secondary schools

Schools inspectors say they have 'serious concerns' over the quality of secondary education in Cumbria.

OFSTED has today published its findings after visiting seventeen schools across the county.

Their report says GCSE results have been significantly below the national average over the last two years.

There is particular concern over poor achievement in Maths and English among students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The report says there is little evidence that Cumbria County Council is providing an effective strategy to improve quality, and says this needs to be urgently addressed.

As a result of inspections, five schools in Cumbria have been placed in Special Measures.

They are Stainburn School and Southfield Technology College, both in Workington, the Richard Rose Morton Academy in Carlisle, Furness Academy in Barrow and Samuel King's School in Alston.

Earlier Pam spoke to Andrew Johnson, OFSTED's Senior Inspector for the North West and asked him where Cumbria is going wrong?

Cumbria County Council responds to damning Ofstead report

Cumbria County Council have responded to Ofstead's report which highlighted serious concerns about the state of secondary education in the county.

The council states that of the county’s 37 secondary schools 18 are academies and as such the county council has no role in their management.

They highlight that Ofstead found good teaching in almost all of the schools that they visited.

The issues raised by inspectors are:

  • Poor achievement in mathematics and English for specific groups of students, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, particularly boys
  • Too little challenge in lessons for more-able students
  • Marking that gives too few pointers on how students can improve
  • Lack of development of literacy and numeracy skills
  • Weak leadership of teaching and the management of teachers
  • Ineffective governance: external reviews were recommended in three schools and in others governance required improvement
  • Poor self-evaluation of strengths and weaknesses

“We accept Ofsted’s analysis of the current situation and know there is much more to do to ensure all Cumbrian secondary schools are providing the quality of education that parents and pupils have a right to expect.

"But it’s also right to point out that 65% of Cumbria secondary school pupils attend a school that is ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ – we want that to be 100%, but we should not lose sight of the fact Cumbria does have many great schools."

“The council’s role is to monitor challenge, support and, in exceptional circumstances, intervene in schools to ensure standards are being met.

"But headteachers and school governors have first responsibility for their school’s performance; the days when the county council could routinely intervene are long gone. Indeed with creation of Academies the council has no direct role in the management of nearly half of the county’s secondary schools. "

"That said, the work that we are now doing with headteachers across all schools is about harnessing the skills, expertise and experience that we do have in the have county to benefit all pupils.

“It’s not acceptable that we have schools that are judged to be inadequate and in each of those cases we are working with the schools to develop robust improvement plans which will rapidly deliver the change that is needed.

"I have no doubt about the urgency of this work, Cumbrian pupils deserve the best and we’ll be doing all we can to make that happen.”

– Cllr Anne Burns, Cabinet Member for Children’s Services

"Serious concerns" about the quality of secondary education in Cumbria

Following a blitz of inspections in Cumbria Ofstead have today revealed they have serious concerns about the quality of secondary education in the county.

Between November 1st and December 20th last year they inspected 17 schools.

They were carried out because of concerns about the poor performance of a number of secondary schools in the county.

Inspectors found GCSE results for children at the age of 16 have been significantly below the national average in the last two years - with the gap widening.

They were concerned about school performance in coastal and urban areas, and the low achievement of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“These inspection findings raise serious concerns about the quality of secondary education in Cumbria where too few secondary schools are good. And the picture is not improving.

“There is too little evidence to suggest that the council is providing an effective and shared strategy to improve the quality of education across the county. This needs to be urgently addressed.

"The local authority needs to provide greater challenge and support and extend partnership working."

– Michael Cladingbowl HMI, Ofsted’s Regional Director for the North West

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