County schools languish post academisation

ofsted_small10:43 Tuesday 1st December 2015
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

PAUL STAINTON: The education watchdog Ofsted has just announced its annual review of school in the country, and it doesn’t make great reading for Cambridgeshire. The chance of a child attending a ‘good’ secondary school less than half, and it’s amongst the lowest ten authorities in the country. A damning assessment really of our county’s education record and surely pours doubts over the academy system, doesn’t it? Let’s go and get the latest on that from Andrew Cook, who is from Ofsted. Morning Andrew.
ANDREW COOK: Good morning.
PAUL STAINTON: Not great news for Cambridgeshire is it?
ANDREW COOK: No it’s not good news for Cambridgeshire, and you know I’ve been on your show before to highlight our concerns around Cambridgeshire, particularly secondary schools, where like you say, there’s less than a 50% chance of a student in Cambridgeshire going to a ‘good’ or better secondary school.
PAUL STAINTON: What’s going on?

ANDREW COOK: I think it would be fair to say that many of those secondary schools have been struggling for some time, that there are issues around leadership, around the quality of teaching. Whilst we’re beginning to see some improvements, it’s a long way off to actually schools that are strong and improving rapidly, and making sure that they’re providing a good education.
PAUL STAINTON: Yes. What needs to be done then? What needs to be done? Because they’re all academies. We were told academies was the way forward. I think there’s only one secondary school that’s controlled by Cambridgeshire County Council if my maths is correct.
ANDREW COOK: That’s correct, they are all academies, and I think it’s our view that actually it doesn’t really matter whether they’re academy or a maintained school. A school is a school, and more work needs to be done to improve basically school leadership.
PAUL STAINTON: So there’s no correlation in the fact that they’ve all changed to academies and they’re not doing very well?
ANDREW COOK: I think the only thing we could pick up really from the whole academisation route is that where academies are what we call stand-alone academies, in other words that they’re on their own, they’re not part of a multiple academy trust, there have been issues around who holds them to account, who challenges them, and also who supports them. So there is some evidence that those stand-alone academies do less well. But in Cambridgeshire I know there’s much more energy now being put into schools working together. I know the Regional Schools Commissioner and Ofsted are trying to support schools and encourage them to work and learn from the best schools in Cambridgeshire, of which there are some.
PAUL STAINTON: Andrew, thank you very much for coming on this morning with that news then. The chance of a child attending a ‘good’ secondary school in Cambridgeshire less than half of them. And it’s amongst the lowest ten authorities in the country. And that news just in from Ofsted this morning.