Praise for Northumberland’s primary school outcomes

Lindisfarne Middle School, in Alnwick, was one of four placed in special measures in 2013, but, as of July this year, it is now good.
Lindisfarne Middle School, in Alnwick, was one of four placed in special measures in 2013, but, as of July this year, it is now good.

Northumberland has been congratulated by the regional head of Ofsted following the provisional 2015 outcomes for pupils in the county’s primary schools.

Northumberland was the only local authority which was above the rest of England for attainment in both phonics and all subjects in Key Stage 1. The county also shows strong year-on-year improvement across all Key Stage 1 measures.

In Key Stage 2, pupils’ attainment is above average in reading, writing, mathematics and science although progress in reading and mathematics is less than is seen nationally.

In a letter to Northumberland County Council bosses and the area’s MPs, Nick Hudson, Ofsted’s regional director for the North East, Yorkshire and Humber, said: “Pupils who learn well in primary school are more likely to succeed in high school and their life chances similarly are improved. The strong outcomes for pupils in Northumberland leave them well placed as they move on to the secondary phase of education.”

Coun Robert Arckless, cabinet member for children’s services at Northumberland County Council, said: “This is great news for the local authority’s primary schools and shows we are working extremely effectively with maintained primary schools across the authority to provide the support and challenge they need.

“We will continue to challenge and support school leaders so that they can support students and help them to achieve the very highest standards.”

MP for Berwick, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, said: “This is fantastic news and reflects the brilliant work our teachers do across our schools. As a parent and a school governor, I know how hard staff work to ensure local children receive a great education and are well-equipped with the skills they need to succeed in later life.

“The results are especially welcome given the challenges some of our first schools are facing in more rural areas. The results demonstrate the importance of retaining these successful schools.”

In October 2013, a focused week of school inspections took place in Northumberland, sparked by concerns about the attainment of pupils on free school meals compared to elsewhere in the North East and nationwide.

A total of 17 schools were inspected and while one was graded as outstanding and three good, a further nine required improvement and four were placed in special measures. Mr Hudson wrote to Northumberland County Council to highlight a ‘significant and worrying decline in inspection outcomes’.

But this latest news adds to the feeling that education in the county has turned a corner. Earlier this month, improvements in schools in Northumberland were praised by the head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, who has said that green shoots of recovery are beginning to emerge.