Burntwood councillor warns children are being failed after Ofsted report

A Burntwood councillor has warned children are being failed after an Ofsted report criticised school improvement services in Staffordshire.

The report comes a year after a number of support services were outsourced to Entrust – a joint venture between the Local Education Authority and Capita.

However, Ofsted said those changes had led to “confusion” for headteachers and governors and warned that services were now “reactive rather than proactive.”

Cllr Sue Woodward

Cllr Sue Woodward

Cllr Sue Woodward, Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Member for Learning and Skills at Staffordshire County Council and a school governor for 25 years, believes urgent action is needed.

“This really is a damning verdict on the way the Conservative administration at Staffordshire County Council has dealt with less than adequate results,” she said. “While they have been rearranging the deckchairs, they have been failing our schools and, more importantly, failing our children.

“For the past 12 months at least, things have gone backwards not forwards and this just cannot continue. My Labour colleagues and I will be calling for an urgent attention to this matter.

“A year is a very long time in a young child’s life and they simply can’t just carry on with their business as usual attitude.”

The county council’s cabinet member for learning and skills, Ben Adams, said steps were already being put in place to address some of the issues raised by Ofsted.

Ben Adams

Ben Adams

“There was no surprise in some of Ofsted’s findings,” he said. “We review performance regularly and had acted before the inspection, so the speed and strength of our interventions in schools had already improved, because we want the best possible education for every child in the county.

“Like every other education authority in the country, Staffordshire is going through a period of change to reflect the greater independence of schools and the changing role of the council to commissioning support for schools and governors and challenging them over their performance where necessary on behalf of parents.

“Schools can buy advice, training and support from a large marketplace of private providers and even other schools, but feedback from more than 200 Staffordshire schools on Entrust’s performance has been positive.

“The council’s use of Entrust to provide services and training in the classroom, supporting senior staff and helping governors fulfil their scrutiny role, is the right thing to do as it gives more power and freedom to schools, but I accept that we still have some work to do in explaining how we work with Entrust to support schools in this new environment.”

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