Data reveals 'inadequate' Suffolk schools starting again as academies

Some 'inadequate' schools in Suffolk are reopening as new institutions, analysis has found.

Some 'inadequate' schools in Suffolk are reopening as new institutions, analysis has found. - Credit: PA

More funding is needed to improve Suffolk schools a teaching union has said, after analysis revealed ‘inadequate’ institutions in the county were sometimes started again as new schools within academies. 

Data from Ofsted revealed that 19 schools in Suffolk were rated as inadequate by the education watchdog during their last inspection, but since then 10 have started as ‘new’ schools and have not been re-inspected. 

In total, 1,512 pupils attend these new schools across the county and while the leadership will have changed, staff members and pupils will have been retained from the old school. 

However, Graham White, from the Suffolk branch of the National Education Union (NEU), said some schools that moved into academy chains were success stories, but others were not and called for more funding for the state system. 

Graham White said the NEU had concerns about the loads placed on teachers Picture: ARCHANT

Graham White - Credit: Andy Abbott

Under an arrangement between the Department of Education and Ofsted, schools that start again as new within an academy trust have three years before they are inspected. 

Mr White said many of the schools rated inadequate were in deprived areas and therefore did not have access to the resources available to their counterparts in wealthier areas. 

He added that high performing pupils were going to be attracted to the best schools and creating a new school as part of an academy trust would therefore not necessarily lead to an improvement in standards. 

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He believed Ofsted should be scrapped altogether in favour of peer assessments, with leaders from more successful schools visiting failing institutions to suggest how they could improve. 

He said: “You want a school to be better. It doesn’t matter how good a school is, it can be better. I don’t think we need more inspections, but it is a fully perverse example where a failing school is then not re-inspected for several years because it has been joined an academy chain. 

“They think academy chains will solve all ills, but they won’t.” 

More time, more money and more resources were the answer, he said. 

Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said: “One of the effects of a negative Ofsted rating is to stigmatise the school concerned and it is not uncommon for trusts to rebrand schools in this situation as part of their improvement efforts.

Geoff Barton, former headteacher at King Edward VI Upper School in Bury St Edmunds.

Geoff Barton - Credit: PHIL MORLEY

“We do not think that an inspection system which stigmatises schools in this way is at all helpful. It should be more supportive and less harsh.

“The efforts of multi-academy trusts to support school improvement are scrutinised by trust boards, regional schools commissioners and in due course by another Ofsted inspection.

"In addition, results from tests and exams are published in the form of performance tables.”