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Five schools in Bury St Edmunds and the surrounding area among Suffolk's 19 'inadequate' schools

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More than 5,600 Suffolk youngsters are being taught in ‘inadequate’ schools, according to latest data.

Suffolk County Council figures also showed that number rose to nearly 20,000 when combined with children in establishments classed as ‘requiries improvement’ – one in five pupils across the county.

The figures published ahead of Suffolk County Council’s full council meeting on Thursday showed that as of February 20 there were 19 schools, all academies, rated ‘inadequate’, five of which were in the Bury St Edmunds area.

Mid Suffolk District Council, Endeavour House (31497839)
Mid Suffolk District Council, Endeavour House (31497839)

Those schools took more than 5,600 pupils, or 4% of Suffolk’s school population.

Improvements at academies are monitored by the Regional Schools Commissioner and not the local education authority, but Conservative cabinet member for education at Suffolk County Council, Mary Evans, said it did still offer support to help drive improvements.

“The county council’s role is to support, influence and challenge school leaders and the Regional Schools Commissioner’s team to ensure that all children in Suffolk fulfil their full potential,” she said.

“Local authority maintained schools are performing extremely well as reflected by Ofsted and we have a strong team of skilled qualified teachers and leaders within the council challenging and supporting them.

“With regards to academies we have a strong and robust relationship with the RSC’s team and multi-academy trust CEOs, who hold academies to account.

“The council facilitates learning between schools to enable them to share best practice.

“School leaders in all state funded schools in Suffolk can be supported in their improvement work by being part of the Suffolk Learning and Improvement Network, which is a headteacher-led peer review model and all schools can also seek professional development support from the School to School Support Partnership.

“The council have also set up a cross party policy development panel to look at the next phase of Raising the Bar which focuses on raising educational attainment across Suffolk.

“Local authority school improvement officers work with all LA maintained schools and also offer improvement support to all academies.”

Labour education spokesman at the county council, Jack Abbott, described it as a “staggering failure of our education system” and added: “This [data] makes it clear that academisation isn’t a silver bullet, or that it should remain a one-way street where academies can’t come back under local authority control.

“In truth, those in power at Suffolk County Council look to delegate blame elsewhere, rather than taking a leadership role in driving up educational standards throughout the county. It is a shame because local authority-run schools are performing very well.

“I wish it felt like education was a priority for the Conservatives locally and in Westminster, but there seems to be little desire to acknowledge the problems that they’ve created, provide adequate funding or fix an increasingly fragmented system.”

The complete list of ‘inadequate’ schools as of Thursday, February 20, is as follows. The date in brackets denotes the last inspection, either full or monitoring visit:

• Sprites Primary Academy, Ipswich (October 15 2019)

• Ormiston Denes Academy, Lowestoft (December 11 2019 – monitoring visit)

• Langer Primary Academy, Felixstowe (May 16 2018)

• Felixstowe Academy (January 15 2020 – monitoring visit)

• Ixworth CofE Primary School (October 3 2017 – monitoring visit under previous name)

• Bury St Edmunds County Upper School (July 3 2019 – monitoring visit)

• The Everitt Academy, Carlton Colville (September 17, 2019)

• Great Whelnetham CofE Primary School (January 15 2019 – under previous name)

• Chalk Hill, Sudbury (March 19 2019 – monitoring visit under previous name)

• The Bridge School, Ipswich (February 12 2019 – monitoring visit under previous name)

• Grange Community Primary School, Felixstowe (December 7 2017 – under previous name)

• Helmingham Primary School (December 4 2018 – monitoring visit under previous name)

• Warren School, Oulton Broad (November 14 2017 – under previous name)

• Shotley Community Primary School (November 7 2017 – under previous name)

• Howard Community Primary School, Bury St Edmunds (May 15 2018 – monitoring visit under previous name)

• Morland CofE Primary School, Ipswich (February 7 2018 – monitoring visit under previous name)

• Rougham CofE Primary School (January 18 2017)

• Olive Alternative Provision Academy Suffolk, Stowmarket (May 6 2015 – under previous name)

• Horatio House Independent School, Lowestoft (February 4 2020 – additional inspection)