Essex: Schools under special measures rise sharply

ESSEX schools put into special measures have more than doubled in less than a year, new figures reveal.

Ofsted has rated 16 schools – including seven primaries in north Essex – to be inadequate, compared with just seven last September.

It has prompted calls for Essex County Council to take responsibility and pump extra resources into the failing schools.

But the authority said the hike was part of a national pattern and urged parents and councillors to get more involved in their schools.

Mike Mackrory, leader of the Lib Dems on ECC, said: “It is a real concern that some Essex schools are really struggling. The Conservative’s pledge to provide world-class education is looking beyond the reach of some of our children, which is a tragedy.

“The county council carries out its own monitoring and they must know why schools are struggling and they need to take responsibility for putting extra support and resources into these schools, who are failing their children.”

Jerry Glazier, general secretary of Essex National Union of Teachers, blamed the hike on a stricter Ofsted inspection regime.

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When Sir Michael Wilshaw was appointed the new chief inspector of schools last year he announced a new streamlined inspection framework focusing on four key areas - pupil achievement, teaching standards, behaviour and school leadership.

Mr Glazier added: “When the profession is being battered by Ofsted, battered by the secretary of state then it’s creating an environment which is negative rather than positive.

“Ofsted should be a critical friend of schools but it should be there to assist schools in being the best they can.

“I’m fearful this negative environment that’s being created is counter-productive.”

A spokesman for ECC said: “There has been an increase in the number of schools being placed in Ofsted categories of concern. This is a national pattern. Essex County Council is committed to improvement and provides tailored support to schools in special measures to help them identify and root out their weaknesses.

“However, improvement will not come from our support alone and I encourage parents and locals councillors to get more involved in their local schools to drive pupil ambition, strengthen leadership and ultimately improve results.”

A spokesman for Ofsted said: “Under the new school inspection arrangements introduced in January, Ofsted has increased its attention on schools that are doing less well with a tighter focus on the four key judgements.

“Inspectors are spending more time in classrooms observing the quality of teaching and looking in detail at the difference schools are making for pupils.”

LIST: Schools in special measures (source: Essex County Council)

- Briscoe Primary, Pitsea, near Basildon

- Can Hall Primary, Clacton-on-Sea

- Cherry Tree Primary, Basildon

- Greenstead St Andrew Infants & Nursery, Colchester

- Kingsmoor Primary, Harlow

- Messing-cum-Inworth Primary, near Tiptree

- Ravenscroft Primary, Clacton-on-Sea

- Riverside Primary, Hullbridge

- Southminster Primary

- St Andrew’s Primary, Halstead

- St Teresa’s Primary, Basildon

- Thomas Willingale Primary, Loughton

- Willows Primary, Basildon

- Hamford Primary, Walton-on-the-Naze

- Basildon Upper/Lower Academy

- The Ramsey College, Halstead