3. Where are we now?
Education provision across the county includes:
- Around 800 early years settings (Childminders and Day Care) – the highest private, voluntary and independent sector of any local authority in England
- Around 300 schools of which almost one third are academies
- 12 special schools (4 of which are sponsored academies)
- 4 colleges
- 5 alternative provision schools one of which is a free school and one is the Hospital Education Service
Our context is complex and one of continued challenges both demographically and geographically, a diverse population, an increasingly mixed range of schools and settings in all sectors, and increasing nancial demands. Multi-Academy Trusts have an increasing presence in the county and there is also a need for a number of new schools over the next few years.
Over the past seven years, the rate of progress of schools in the primary sector from satisfactory/requires improvement to good has increased. In 2011, 64 schools were judged ‘satisfactory’. In July 2019, 24 primary schools and academies were judged to require improvement (RI). This represents a good transfer rate from RI to Good or better despite successive changes to the Ofsted framework that have raised the bar. The arrangements for school intervention have been strengthened to reflect and meet this challenge from Ofsted.
In the secondary sector, where the vast majority of schools are academies, the profile of Gloucestershire’s secondary schools in Ofsted terms has been more volatile.
Although outcomes for children and young people in Gloucestershire are high overall, the high standards of attainment mask several areas of underperformance and low progress for individuals and groups of children and young people. The attainment gap between children with additional needs and their peers is too wide. Whilst the Online Pupil Survey indicates that children and young people are generally happy and feel confident about the future, there are increasing numbers who report that they are worried about the future.
The rate of exclusion in the county is high and there are children at risk of exclusion or who are being removed from school by their families to be home educated as they feel that school cannot meet their needs. Furthermore, the national concern regarding ‘on-rolling’ is reflected locally.
Our strengths include:
- The clarity and consistency of our school improvement model;
- The commitment of our workforce to better outcomes;
- The quality of challenge, intervention and oversight of schools;
- The range of support for teachers and governors that is provided, commissioned and brokered;
- Our commitment to continuous professional development within the LA and within schools;
- The strength of our partnership with schools and other providers, e.g. local partnerships, teaching schools;
- The way in which the school improvement model has adapted and innovated to maintain the focus on impact.
The local authority is one of many partners in the educational landscape and seeks to use its in uence to support and signpost schools to access the best sources of advice and guidance.
Our areas for development include:
- Developing and strengthening our approach to closing the gaps in achievement for the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children and young people;
- Increasing the number of schools judged to be good or better in the context of a new inspection framework; https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/ education-inspection-framework
- Securing high quality and sustainable external support for schools.
Barriers to improvement include:
- Increasing demand from schools and settings in the context of diminishing resources at the centre;
- School budget constraints;
- The challenges inherent in the management of small rural schools.