Head of Ofsted raises concerns over performance of Cambridgeshire’s schools

Sir Michael Wilshaw, head of Ofsted, speaking at the Norfolk headteacher conference in 2014. Photo:

Sir Michael Wilshaw, head of Ofsted, speaking at the Norfolk headteacher conference in 2014. Photo: Bill Smith - Credit: Archant

The chief inspector of schools has highlighted concerns about the performance of high schools in Cambridgeshire.

Sir Michael Wilshaw listed it as one of 24 local authority areas of England where fewer than 60 per cent of secondary schools were rated at least “good” by Ofsted.

The figure for the county was 53 per cent, as of March 31, 2016.

Norfolk and Suffolk, which have previously been the subject of strongly-worded criticisms from Sir Michael, were not listed.

Sir Michael’s comments today focused on the gap he identified between the performance of schools in the north and south of England, with all but seven of the local authority areas he highlighted being in the north.

He said: “The nation should be worried. Our future prosperity depends on this generation of young people receiving a good education. So it is vital that we raise standards for all children and find lasting solutions to close the regional divide in secondary schools.

“We must urgently tackle issues around teacher shortages and the quality of leadership, and ensure that the best multi-academy trusts, the best leaders and the best teachers are incentivised to work in the areas where they are needed most.

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“If these challenges remain unaddressed, I fear we risk wasting the talent and potential of tens of thousands of young people.”

Sir Michael’s comments came three months after a letter from his organisation’s regional director for the East of England, Andrew Cook, said urgent action was needed to halt a decline in Cambridgeshire schools.

97 per cent of high schools in the county are academies, and therefore accountable to the Department for Education and regional schools commissioner Tim Coulson, rather than the county council.

The Department for Education said it recognised too many children in Cambridgeshire have not received the education they deserve, and said Dr Coulson had appointed Dame Joan McVittie to chair an improvement board to drive forward improvement.

It said it would not hesitate to take swift action if it was not satisfied that improvement was being made, and its recent White Paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere, highlighted Cambridgeshire as a priority area.

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