Press release: Middlesbrough Council school improvement support makes progress

Middlesbrough Council school improvement support makes solid progress

Schools in Middlesbrough are being well supported and challenged by the local authority, Ofsted said today (22 May 2015) in a new report.

Ofsted inspectors spoke to councillors, local authority officials, headteachers and governors about the way in which Middlesbrough Council supports school improvement. Inspectors checked the council’s strategy for school effectiveness, school performance data, and case studies. Headteachers were also called by inspectors to ask how they were being supported by the local authority in a survey of more than half of the borough’s schools.

The report found that Middlesbrough Council has made significant improvements since Ofsted judged school support to be ineffective in January 2014. This judgement acted as a catalyst for improvement and, in the last 15 months, the local authority has taken big strides to help pupils in the borough get a better education.

Inspectors also found that the local authority has strengthened its arrangements for school improvement with the introduction of programmes such as the School Effectiveness Strategy. As a result headteachers and other school leaders are engaging with the local authority and have regularly met to discuss best practice in the classroom.

Middlesbrough primary school pupils are doing better than before, while the gap between poorer pupils and their wealthier classmates is narrowing. In the borough’s secondary schools the pace of improvement is getting better although there is still room for progress, particularly in maths.

More broadly, inspectors found that education is an integral part of the council’s strategy to enhance the economy of Middlesbrough. Councillors want to improve education in the borough to help regenerate the local economy. The number of young people who are not in education, employment or training has fallen significantly from a high proportion, and is now in line with the England average.

Nick Hudson, Ofsted Director for North East, Yorkshire and Humber, said:

“More than a year ago Ofsted found that school improvement support in Middlesbrough was ineffective. I am really pleased that things have got much better since then.

“After the Ofsted report early last year Middlesbrough Council made school improvement a priority. Councillors, senior local authority officials, headteachers and other school leaders have worked well together.

“Their results are impressive. Pupils are on the whole doing better at primary school while improvement rates in the borough’s secondary schools are greater than the national average, for poorer pupils as well as their wealthier peers. That is what parents and pupils want and deserve.”

The report did find some areas for improvement and says that schools should still seek to raise pupil attainment across all years. Ofsted finds that more work should be done on reducing the gap between poorer pupils and their wealthier peers. Moreover, Ofsted found that the main driver for improvement, the Middlesbrough Achievement Partnership, is not as widely understood by school leaders as it could be.

Inspectors will continue to monitor the council’s performance regularly and decide on any future inspection activity.

Notes to Editors

  1. The letter to Middlesbrough Council is published online.
  2. The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children’s social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

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