Fresh support for schools in Suffolk

SCHOOLS across Suffolk are being offered extra help to boost students' examination results after new statistics showed the county was still lagging behind the national average.

Results at Key Stage Two (11+) show that Suffolk pupils are still behind the national average in all tables and at Key Stage Four (GCSE) they are below the national average in tables showing the national average for A-C grades but are above the national average when A-G grades are compared.

Results have improved year-on-year but, with national improvements continuing, Suffolk students are still not reaching the average for England.

This week's meeting of the county council cabinet will be told that work will be continuing with all schools to try to improve student performance.

And the cabinet will be told that some schools where special work has already been undertaken have shown some dramatic improvements.

At Key Stage Two the proportion of pupils in Suffolk who reached level four in both English and maths increased from 66 to 68pc. But in England the proportion increased from 72 to 73pc, leaving Suffolk still 5pc below the average.

At Key Stage Four, the number of pupils who got five GCSEs, including maths and English, in Suffolk increased from 49 to 52pc. In England the figure increased from 50 to 53pc.

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When compared to a number of similar education authorities, in counties such as Norfolk, Gloucestershire and Lincolnshire, Suffolk is in the bottom 25% for both its Key Stage Two and Key Stage Four results.

The cabinet will be told that all secondary schools in Suffolk have now been categorised according to its new improvement strategy.

Those that need extra help will be offered support from higher-attaining schools.

Some secondary schools that have already been targeted have shown dramatic improvements – Orwell High in Felixstowe saw its GCSE success rate rise by 25pc, The Denes in Lowestoft saw its pass rate improve by 16pc and Chantry in Ipswich saw a 12pc rise.

Primary schools will also be offered support with specialist staff being sent to those schools whose progress is below the national average.

Additional funding will be offered to schools to run one-to-one tuition on Saturdays and during the Easter holidays.

Suffolk county councillor with responsibility for children and young people Graham Newman said the report had a mixed message.

'There are improvements being made, but in some areas we are not keeping up with the national improvement and there is still much to be done,' he said.

Work with individual schools showed how targeted support could improve results, he added.

Graham White, of the Suffolk branch of the National Union of Teachers, was unimpressed by the report.

He said: 'If the council wants to improve education it should listen to teachers and parents and scrap the school reorganisation plan (which would see three-tier education in parts of the county replaced by a two-tier structure).

'It could also do away with the cuts that are reducing the amount of support offered to schools across the county.'