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Quality of schools is 'a lottery' says report

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 28, 2012

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Parents in the Westcountry face a postcode lottery when sending their children to school, new league tables have revealed.

According to the report of Ofsted's chief inspector, all pupils in the region have a better than average chance of attending a good or excellent school. Worryingly for parents however, it also points to broad differences in provision.

In Torbay every pupil is attending a top quality secondary school, while in Devon, less than three-quarters are.

Devon County Council's cabinet member for schools, Andrea Davis, said their schools were ranked joint-58th out of 150 local authorities.

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She said this was an achievement considering Devon currently stands sixth from bottom of 150 local authorities for the amount of education funding received from the Government.

"I am pleased that Devon's schools continue to maintain their lead on schools nationally," said Mrs Davis, adding that she accepted improvements could be made.

"As a local authority we identify schools that are not performing as well as they should and work hard with heads, teachers and governors to ensure they improve.

"There is no room for complacency and even the best can always get better but this is a highly creditable performance for Devon schools despite the fact that they are the sixth worst funded in the country."

The figures released by Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, revealed that in terms of secondary schools, 100% in Torbay were judged good or outstanding, compared with 84% in Cornwall, 79% in Plymouth and 74% in Devon.

In terms of primary school provision, 73% were judged good or outstanding in Cornwall, compared with 72% in Devon, 70% in Torbay and 69% in Plymouth.

A spokeswoman for Cornwall Council said the report showed the standard of education which is being provided for children in Cornish schools was higher than the national average.

She said just seven primary schools were judged as inadequate, adding "We are currently working with the staff and governors of these schools to help them to improve as quickly as possible. We have also achieved a number of other positive achievements – including improvements in the standards of both maths and reading, where more primary children in Cornwall are now achieving the highest levels than the national average."

The spokeswoman said more improvements were under way.

"We know that we still have more work to do to achieve our aim of ensuring that every school in Cornwall is judged as outstanding and are working closely with a wide range of partners to achieve this."

While Sir Michael said his report pointed to "stark inequities" across England, with a child's chances of being taught at a good school far too dependent on where they live, unions condemned the tables.

Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary at the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, called it "highly political" and went "way beyond Ofsted's role."

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union said the report was "nothing to do with raising standards" but was about the widespread "academisation of local schools."

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