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This is how Suffolk schools and authorities have fared during the coronavirus pandemic, according to latest Ofsted annual report



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A higher proportion of schools in Suffolk have been judged good or outstanding this year in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, according the education watchdog Ofsted's annual report.

In the report, which has been published today, the watchdog's director for the East of England said Covid-19 has had a 'huge impact' on education, but teachers and those who work with children deserve credit for keeping youngsters 'safe, secure and keeping good progress'.

The report shows that, as of the end of August this year, of the 251 primary schools inspected in the county 82 per cent of them were rated good or outstanding – up two per cent since on the previous year.

More schools in Suffolk have been judged good or outstanding this year in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, according the education watchdog Ofsted's annual report
More schools in Suffolk have been judged good or outstanding this year in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, according the education watchdog Ofsted's annual report

In the East of England as a whole, 86 per cent of the 1,980 primary schools inspected were given the top two ratings as of August. This is broadly the same as in 2019.

Meanwhile, of the 46 secondary schools inspected in Suffolk, a slightly lower proportion of 80 per cent of them were rated good or outstanding as of August 31 – but this is up four per cent from 2019.

And it is a slightly higher proportion than the East of England as a whole, as 79 per cent of the 375 secondary schools inspected were judged as good or outstanding – down one per cent from last year.

The region's Ofsted director said the area "continues to provide a good quality of education for most of its young people"
The region's Ofsted director said the area "continues to provide a good quality of education for most of its young people"

Nationally, 86 per cent of schools were given one of the top two ratings.

In the East of England, two per cent of schools (50 of 2,559 schools) were considered 'stuck'.

This means they received consistently poor inspection outcomes throughout the last 13 years; were judged as inadequate, satisfactory or to require improvement in every inspection between September 1, 2007 and August 31, 2020; and have had at least four full inspections in the period.

Paul Brooker, Ofsted’s director for the East of England: “I am pleased that the East of England continues to provide a good quality of education for most of its young people.

Paul Brooker, Ofsted's East of England director said those who work with children deserve credit for ensuring they have been "safe, secure and making good progress" this year
Paul Brooker, Ofsted's East of England director said those who work with children deserve credit for ensuring they have been "safe, secure and making good progress" this year

"Inspection outcomes are strong across the board in Early Years and in primary and secondary schools. Almost all our childminders, nurseries and pre-schools are ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, which is great, particularly when working parents rely so much on these services.

"Eight out of every 10 secondary schools are good or outstanding and almost nine out of 10 primaries are good or better."

In terms of attainment and progress data, the watchdog said that grades awarded in 2020 'cannot be meaningfully compared' with results in previous years, as GCSE, AS and A-level exams were cancelled this year and students due to site an exam were awarded a grade based on an assessment of the grade they would have been most likely to achieve had the exams gone ahead.

At a national level, the watchdog has warned that children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) will suffer 'lasting harm' as a result of the pandemic after support services were cut.

Ofsted has called on all schools to 'make the effort' to help such pupils attend class after their families struggled in lockdown.

Chief inspector Amanda Spielman warned that vulnerable children could lose out if they remain at home, and urged sector leaders to 'watch out for bad practices creeping back in' which may compound risks.

Ofsted said it was concerning that a large proportion of pupils who have disappeared from school are those known to wider children’s services, because they have complex needs or attendance issues.

Ms Spielman said: “We don’t want to see any schools off-rolling the most difficult children, and we need all schools to make the effort to help children with SEND to attend – we know that many SEND children and their parents particularly struggled during lockdown, as many services were withdrawn.”

Off-rolling is when a pupil is removed from a school’s register without being formally excluded, or a parent is encouraged to remove a child from a school when the removal is in the interests of the school.

In its annual report, Ofsted noted that SEND pupils lost access to additional support and their healthcare was 'sharply reduced' during the lockdown.

Ofsted has also raised concerns about the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on children’s outcomes, as well as their mental and physical health.

“While we do not yet have reliable evidence on ‘learning loss’ from the pandemic, it is likely that losses have been significant and will be reflected in widening attainment gaps,” the report said

There are also concerns about children being lonely and 'therefore vulnerable to being groomed online'.

On a local level, Ofsted also inspects local authorities based on the quality of their children's services.

As at August this year, Suffolk was one of only two in the East of England which were judged to be outstanding – the authority's children's services were inspected in April 2019.

Mr Brooker added: "In recent years, we have seen steady improvement in children’s services across the region.

"Our 11 local authorities play a vital role in supporting vulnerable families and keeping children safe from harm, and they were very much on the front line during lockdown. We now boast two outstanding authorities: Essex and Suffolk, and four good."

Ofsted's annual report also shows that the number of pupils in state-funded secondary schools in Suffolk with one or more exclusion in 2018/19 was 1,833. There were 43,285 secondary school pupils in the county in that academic year.

The rate of one or more fixed period exclusions per pupils enrolled in secondary schools in the county is 4.2, compared to a rate of 4.3 in the East of England as a whole.

The number of fixed period exclusions in secondary schools over the 2018/19 year was 4,067 – a rate of 9.4, compared to a rate of 8.7 in the region.

Mr Brooker said everyone who has worked with children in an education setting deserves credit for their efforts this year.

He said: "The pandemic has had a huge impact on education, so we must absolutely credit teaching staff, childminders, social workers, leaders and everyone else working with children for ensuring that they are safe, secure and making good progress.”

News from our universities, local primary and secondary schools including Ofsted inspections and league tables can be found here

Read more: All the latest news from Suffolk