Fears for “lost generation” as Suffolk plummets down national education league tables

Graham Newman, cabinet member for education at Suffolk County Council.

Graham Newman, cabinet member for education at Suffolk County Council. - Credit: Archant

SUFFOLK is in danger of creating a 'lost generation' as the county plummets towards the bottom of another education league table.

That was the warning from a leading union official as schools and education officials studied the latest figures from the Department for Education, which placed Suffolk 142nd out of 151 local authorities.

Graham White, of the National Union of Teachers, said: 'My feeling is we are sacrificing the few for the benefit of the many – but I don't think the many will benefit. We are certainly going to lose a generation.

'Our biggest concern is we are closing down very successful schools, and why? That just doesn't seem to make sense to me.'

The publication of the national league tables showed that Suffolk now comes below authorities such as Wigan, Warrington and Liverpool when it comes to the proportion of students gaining five or more A*-C grades at GCSE, including English and maths.

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The county partially blamed the controversy over the marking of GCSE English papers last year for the fall in its results – and the results from individual schools fell significantly.

King Edward VI Upper School in Bury St Edmunds saw the proportion of its students getting good GCSEs fall from 64pc last year to 53pc this year.

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Northgate High School in Ipswich saw its figures fall from 77pc to 66pc and while Holywells High in Ipswich saw 32pc of its students reach that level in 2011, its successor school Ipswich Academy had just 23pc of pupils reaching that level.

Graham Newman, the county's cabinet member for education, said that the results only reiterated the need to complete the School Organisation Review (SOR), which has already taken effect in the Lowestoft area.

Under the SOR, education in the town has moved from a three-tier system to a two-tier system, with middle schools closing in the summer of 2011

He said that amid the disappointing overall performance, there were some examples of 'remarkable, good news' in the results.

He said: 'We have got some teachers who have improved their A-levels but have suffered the worst with GCSEs.'

He added: 'We just have to keep pinching ourselves and keep reminding ourselves that the young people we are doing this for are the ones going through this.

'We need to stop thinking about ourselves and put the children first.'

The news about the high school results comes just a month after Suffolk's primary schools fell to third from bottom from the league tables for Key Stage Two (11-plus).

The plight of education in Suffolk has resulted in the launch of the Raising the Bar initiative in an attempt to boost results – although experts warn it could take years to dramatically improve results.

? For more on the latest figures – and details of how schools in Waveney fared – see next Friday's Journal.

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