Ofsted chief praises Northumberland schools improvement

Sir Michael Wilshaw
Sir Michael Wilshaw

Improvements in schools in Northumberland have been praised by the head of Ofsted, who has said that green shoots of recovery are beginning to emerge.

Speaking at the SCHOOLS NorthEast Summit today, Sir Michael Wilshaw said that Northumberland County Council has overhauled its approach to school improvement and placed a stronger emphasis on leadership and teaching, which was having a galvanising effect.

Speaking about the focused inspections two years ago, which saw four schools placed in special measures, Mr Wilshaw said: “This proved to be a watershed moment. Since then, the local authority has overhauled its approach.

“It has issued a series of warning notices and is placing a much stronger emphasis on leadership and teaching. It is also brokering more school-to-school support across the county.

“As a result, green shoots of recovery are beginning to emerge, with a four per cent increase in GCSE attainment this year and some impressive results at Key Stage 2.”

Coun Robert Arckless, cabinet member for children’s services at Northumberland County Council, said: “It is very gratifying to hear that the chief inspector of schools has mentioned Northumberland as an area where positive progress is being made.

“We are working with schools across the county to provide support for improvement and it is very pleasing that a trend of improvement has started. We will continue to challenge and support school leaders so that they can support students and help them to achieve the very highest standards.

“We particularly recognise that we need to focus on our most disadvantaged children.”

At the conference, Mr Wilshaw talked about four themes for success in education – citing highly-ambitious leadership, accurate assessment, high-quality teaching and strong engagement with parents as the most important aspects.

The conference took place at St James’ Park and was attended by 400 leaders from schools across the North East and featured nationally-renowned speakers. SCHOOLS NorthEast is a network, led by headteachers which aims to create a culture of collaboration and mutual support among North East schools.