Ofsted criticises support council gives to schools

White House Primary School, Hailsham November 5th 2012 E45038N ENGSUS00120120611085717
White House Primary School, Hailsham November 5th 2012 E45038N ENGSUS00120120611085717

East Sussex County Council has been criticised by Ofsted for the ‘ineffective’ way it helps local schools and ‘urgent improvement’ is required, according to the education watchdog .

Ofsted carried out an inspection after concerns were raised regarding the service the council was providing.

In a letter sent to Stuart Gallimore, director of Children’s Services, inspectors said there was a lack of progress made by primary school pupils and a lower than average proportion of 18-year-olds moving on to further education, training or employment.

The council oversees 153 primary schools, 26 secondary and ten special schools. Of these, 14 secondary, nine primary schools and one special school are academies.

There has been a rising number of schools judged as ‘inadequate’ by Ofsted and a gap in the achievements of children receiving free school meals in comparison to other students was also raised in the report.

The education regulators said the council must now “halt the decline” in primary school performance and “accelerate the pace of improvement” to meet national averages by summer 2015, among other requirements.

An East Sussex County Council spokesman said, “Ensuring that all our children can access the best possible education and fulfil their potential is a top priority for the county council and we acknowledge Ofsted’s findings about the performance of schools and the impact of the school improvement services.

“The recent Ofsted inspection raised issues which we had identified and begun working to address – something that was acknowledged in Ofsted’s letter to Stuart Galimore.

“Our Excellence for All strategy, launched in 2013, is the blueprint to which we are working to ensure that all children will be taught in a school good or outstanding by Ofsted and reach their full potential.

“While we recognise the need for further improvement, early data for outcomes in the current academic year were published just after the Ofsted inspection.

“These results show that there have been significant improvements in early years’ education, and preliminary reports show that results for five to seven-year-olds in East Sussex are coming into line with the national average.

“Results for seven to 11-year-olds will not be confirmed until September, but initial data looks positive. This builds on the positive results from secondary schools last year, which we are confident will be replicated when this year’s results are published.

“Outcomes at GCSE level remain in line with national averages, while the overall performance of secondary schools in 2012/13 puts East Sussex 44th out of 150 authorities.

“Providing all our children with the best possible education and helping them to reach their potential remains a top priority for us. We will continue to work closely with schools and providers to accelerate our improvement plans and achieve ensure all children reach their full potential.”

For more information on East Sussex County Council and the services it provides, visit the website at www.eastsussex.gov.uk/default.htm.