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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Cumbria primaries out-perform secondary schools - report

An education chief has spoken of a schools’ “postcode lottery” in England after Cumbria’s place in a new national league table of achievement was revealed.

The county’s primary schools achieved the most impressive result in the latest Ofsted table, which has them ranked 48th in the country, with an impressive 74 per cent achieving either good or outstanding ratings.

Cumbria’s secondary schools fared less well, being placed 121st in the national list, with just 57 per cent rated good or outstanding.

The results for the North West were generally impressive, with 74 per cent of primary schools in the region rated good or better compared to the national average of 69 per cent.

The figure for secondary schools in the North West ranked as highly is 65 per cent, compared to an average of across England of 66 per cent.

A Cumbria County Council spokesman said: “To focus too much on today’s figures would be to miss the bigger point that the vast majority of pupils are achieving well in Cumbrian secondary schools

“Over 80 per cent achieved five GSCEs at A-C in 2012, an improvement of 18 per cent over the past five years, well outstripping the national improvement.

“We’ve also seen a significant improvement in the percentage of pupils achieving at least one GSCE pass which is now up to 99.5 per cent.

“Alongside that we’ve supported schools to help the most vulnerable pupils achieve in school – we’ve reduced the gap between them and all other pupils by seven per cent.

“The bottom line is that the vast majority of Cumbrian pupils get a good education in Cumbrian schools, but where schools are struggling the county council and other schools are there to provide help – and we have a proven track record of school improvement.”

Ofted’s chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said English children were victims of a postcode lottery in gaining a decent education, with some facing a less than 50 per cent chance of attending a good school.

With more than two million children being taught in schools that are not good enough, a youngster’s chance of attending a high-quality school is often too dependent on where they live, he said.

In his first annual report, Sir Michael said the inequalities in England’s education system must be addressed. He said: “It is absolutely a postcode lottery and we are never going to get a world-class system unless we reduce these wide variations.”

Sir Michael points out that there is no link between access to a good primary school and how rich or poor an area is.

Some of the poorest areas in the country have high numbers of good and outstanding primaries, while there are richer areas that are performing badly.

Meanwhile, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) says it is encouraged to see the hard work of teachers acknowledged in Ofsted’s latest report, which shows a rising number of good and outstanding schools.

However, the union called for more focus on Ofsted quality assurance so that every school has a rigorous, professional and fair inspection.

The association remains concerned that there are still significant inconsistencies between inspection teams that need to be addressed.

General secretary Russell Hobby said: “The figures from the schools’ inspectorate, Ofsted, show that even in the face of more demanding expectations, the proportion of good and outstanding schools is increasing steadily over the long term.

“Every year we ask more of our schools and the people who work in them, and each year they rise to the challenge.

“Recognition of this by Ofsted is important: everyone understands that Ofsted has a duty to point out problems, but a balance between criticism and celebration is far more likely to build the confidence and conviction to go further.

“We ask that Ofsted continues to concentrate on eliminating the inconsistencies between inspection teams.”

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