Northumberland’s schools ‘moving in the right direction’

The county’s education chief has said that Northumberland is ‘in a much better position than two years ago, but we still have a lot of work to do’.

Director of education Andy Johnson was brought in after a string of poor Ofsted reports and a highly-critical assessment of the local authority in October 2013.

Presenting his second annual report on education in the county at last Thursday’s meeting of the family and children’s services scrutiny committee, he said: “We have moved on very considerably since that Ofsted report.”

In terms of outcomes, the report highlights a number of positives.

It says: ‘ By the end of Year 1, the proportion of pupils passing the phonics test has improved and is above the national average.

‘This high attainment is continued at the end of Year 2 where children achieve above-average levels in reading, writing and mathematics’.

SATs results continued to improve and are now above the national average, while 89 per cent of children are in good or better primary schools – ‘a higher proportion than that found nationally’.

However, the report also highlights that ‘far too many schools in Northumberland currently require special measures’, while last year, ‘only 55 per cent of children were in secondary schools (includes middle schools) judged to be good or outstanding’.

Pupils with special educational needs generally performed well, but ‘a worrying trend of increased exclusions flags up a concern about the support available for children with behaviour difficulties’.

Mr Johnson added: “This report is good news, but it doesn’t hide anything either.”

Cllr Davey Leader of the Council added: "This report continues the hard work of the team to bring about change and improvements in education in Northumberland. We are pleased following this report and the positive words in November from the Ofsted Chief about the Council and that of the staff in our schools".

Cllr Dickinson Business Chair also praised the report saying: "It is clear that the education offer is improving in Northumberland, the Labour administration allocated extra funding in June 2013 and recruited a new team, the benefits of these actions are starting to show. Clearly the support we offer can only be as good as the staff in schools we work with. I pay tribute like the Leader to the staff in our schools".

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