Vast majority of Northumberland primary schools good or outstanding

Coun Wayne Daley, cabinet member for childrens services.
Coun Wayne Daley, cabinet member for childrens services.

Northumberland’s school improvement service is having a ‘marked impact’ in boosting the Ofsted ratings of the county’s first and primary schools.

All eight schools which were previously judged less than good and which were inspected in the 2017-18 academic year moved up to good.

There are now just 12 maintained first and primary schools rated less than good in Northumberland, with 11 due an inspection this academic year.

Responding to a question from Coun Gordon Stewart at last Wednesday’s full meeting of Northumberland County Council, Coun Wayne Daley, the cabinet member for children’s services, said: “Based on all of the work of the school improvement team and their pre-Ofsted inspections, we are expecting nine of them to move into the good category.”

Overall, in 2017-18, 33 of Northumberland’s first and primary schools had either monitoring or full Ofsted inspections. Of these, 29 were good, one required improvement, none were inadequate and three were taking effective actions.

Coun Daley said: “The school that received a requires improvement judgement could easily have been judged inadequate, were it not for the support of the council officers.

“There are now 105 good or outstanding first and primary schools in Northumberland out of 120 – that’s the Ofsted rating.

“What that means is 87.5 per cent of Northumberland schools deemed as being primaries were good or outstanding at their most recent inspection. This means we have completely closed the gap with the national average of 87 per cent, we’re above that.”

Moving from term-time to the summer holidays, Coun Bernard Pidcock asked about what the council had been doing to tackle holiday hunger – with a rise in demand at food banks being driven by children not getting free school meals.

Coun Daley explained that the Department for Education had launched a new programme in January this year to look at tackling this issue.

Northumberland County Council received funding for two pilot projects, which was used to identify through the school network children most at risk and support the provision of organised enrichment activities for up to five weeks during the summer break.

For example, in Blyth, 91 children were supported by a partnership project, involving a wide range of organisations, which provided two healthy meals a day.

The impact of the pilots will be evaluated and work is already under way to prepare for next summer.

Ben O'Connell, Local Democracy Reporting Service