Support for schools not good enough

Education chiefs have vowed to help county schools improve standards after admitting previous decisions have had a negative impact.

Coun Robert Arckless, policy board member for children’s services, has admitted that school support has not always been good enough and previous cuts by Northumberland County Council were a mistake.

But he has vowed to help schools any way he can and bring standards up to the highest levels possible.

Coun Arckless said: “The Ofsted inspections last October did show that there are significant problems in some schools. As a council, we have a responsibility to make sure that the support we give to schools is the right kind and quality of support.

“The support we have given up to this point hasn’t always been good enough and the cuts to school support were a mistake.”

In the Labour administration’s first budget, £200,000 was put back into school support.

Coun Arckless said his department is looking at County Durham as well as trying to identify in-county support via shared good teaching practice, although raising standards is not the only concern.

“Demography is a massive problem for Northumberland. The further north you go, the sparser the population is and the older the population is,” he said.

“We have more schools than just about anywhere else in England, some of which are very small.”

The authority is looking at options to help improve standards and links, such as federations between schools and sharing teaching skills and good practice.

“We want to look at different solutions for different areas and not imposing solutions centrally from on high,” he added.