The lead councillor for schools has praised Northumberland’s director of education, who is stepping down after a two-year stint.
Dean Jackson was appointed to head up the local authority’s education and skills team in May 2018, following the retirement of Andy Johnson.
Mr Jackson had previously been assistant director of education at Newcastle City Council. Between 1992 and 1999, he was headteacher of two schools in Northumberland.
Coun Wayne Daley, the cabinet member for children’s services, said that he will be missed and that while Mr Jackson ‘always wanted to end his career here’, he has ‘taken a decision to move onto other challenges in his life’.
Highlighting the county’s ‘massive improvement in education since 2017’, he added: “Overall, Dean has been exemplary in working with heads to engage with them and focus on school improvement.”
Upon his appointment, Mr Jackson had said: “My main aim will be to work in partnership with headteachers, governors and teachers to help and support them to reach the very highest of standards right across the county.”
Presenting what turned out to be his final annual report to councillors in early March, he described the assessment of the last completed academic year – 2018-19 – as ‘possibly the most positive’ since the reports were launched six years ago, by his predecessor Mr Johnson.
He explained that the two key issues the previous year were special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) and exclusions, but the direction of travel on both was positive since then.
Primary and first schools continued to be an area of strength, with the vast majority judged to be good or outstanding by Ofsted, and the percentage of children achieving the expected level in reading, writing and maths above the national average at the end of Key Stages 1 and 2.
The quality of outcomes did not continue at the same level in secondary schools, however, the county’s Progress 8 score for GCSEs placed Northumberland top of the 12 local authorities in the North East in 2018-19, while its Attainment 8 score was the second highest – both improvements from previous years.