Report slams ‘ineffective’ county council for failing to support local education

The county council’s support of schools in East Sussex has been slammed in a damning Ofsted report that rated the authority as “ineffective”.

Concerned inspectors moved in after noting that standards in primary schools were consistently falling.

And their report shows that inequality between poor students and those from better off backgrounds is higher than the national average.

On Tuesday (September 16) members of East Sussex County Council (ESCC) cabinet moved £370,000 into a new pot of money set up to remedy the criticisms levelled by Ofsted.

That £370,000 joins a further £500,000 that ESCC have set aside from their Dedicated Schools Grant, meaning the authority now has a total budget of £870,000 to improve its education support.

ESCC Cllr Nick Bennett, lead member for learning and school effectiveness, said that Ofsted had recognised the value of the council’s current strategy for improving schools (“Excellence for All”), but acknowledged there were problems.

“They felt the programme needed to be accelerated to ensure targets are met as quickly as possible,” said Cllr Bennett.

“Work is well underway on the strategy and results have already shown that we are on track to achieve our aim of providing the best education possible for children in East Sussex. The additional investment will ensure that the improvements will have greater impact.”

The Ofsted report, published on August 4, noted strengths in the quality of county secondary and special needs education, but also listed a catalogue of failure elsewhere, including:

+ A “much higher than average” number of inadequate primary schools.

+ Significantly lower than average literacy abilities at Key Stages 1 and 2.

+ Too many 18-year-olds not going on into jobs, training, or education.

+ Wide inequality between the progress of free school meals pupils and their peers.

+ A higher than average number of exclusions.

Overall ESCC’s strategy for improving leadership and governance was found to have failed. In response the authority is now preparing an action plan to better support local schools.

Cllr Bennett said: “Work on the Excellence for All strategy so far has shown encouraging signs of improvement.”