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Friday, 03 July 2015

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Cumbria ‘not complacent’ about Ofsted’s concerns

AN education leader says Cumbria ‘is not complacent’ about Ofsted’s serious concerns about secondary schools – and investment is being pumped in to help.

STRONG WORDS Anne Burns, a Barrow county councillor and cabinet member for Children’s Services has said improvements must, and are, being made

The government’s education watchdog slammed Cumbria County Council and academies saying “too few secondary schools are good and the picture is not improving.

The watchdog warned it must be “urgently addressed” after a blitz of inspections saw schools ratings slip.

Anne Burns, a Barrow county councillor and cabinet member for Children’s Services, said: “We are not complacent. We understand what Ofsted is saying and we want to get this right. It’s a tougher framework, but we are not blaming that regime.

“We need to meet standards and have excellent schools. I want to see vast improvements and children come out with the best outcomes they possibly can.

“We have to work together, schools, the council, parents, businesses and the community. The only way we will lift education standards is by working together. ”

Ofsted acknowledged the work of the council with Cumbria Alliance of System Leaders (CASL), a school-to-school support system.

The authority will invest £500,000 into the scheme to allow successful schools to support others. Cllr Burns said this work was key to inspiring strong leaders.

Under the blitz Walney School went in special measures and St Bernard’s Catholic High School had “serious weaknesses”. Both were judged ‘inadequate’ overall.

Furness Academy has been in special measures since May but is “making reasonable progress” to removal from this category.

John Richardson became the head of Walney School in January and he has vowed to unlock the potential for excellence.

He said improvement was happening at pace with the support of the council and CASL.

Cllr Burns said: “We feel we have the right leader at Walney to take the school forward. The school is getting good support.

“There is a real different in only five weeks. You can see the improvement at Furness Academy.

“The children want to learn and the enthusiasm of staff is tremendous. It’s all about leadership, it’s a school on the up.”

St Bernard’s Ofsted report came out last week and Cllr Burns admitted it was a ‘shock’.

She said: “We are in discussions with the diocese and we have offered our support. We will work with them to make sure St Bernard’s is out of the category as soon as possible.”

Cllr Burns said the excellence of Ulverston Victoria High and Dowdales school must be harnessed.


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