Southend has one of the highest proportions of schools failing to improve in the country

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Southend Council is home to one of the highest proportions of schools failing to improve after being found to have the worst rated learning environments, an Ofsted report has claimed.

Southend was ranked alongside Derby and Darlington for having the highest proportion of ‘stuck’ schools which are in a cycle of low performance after failing to be judged as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ since September 2006.

Ofsted refused to name the schools or say how many were within this category but claimed they are often in deprived areas and suffer from “a deep and embedded school culture” that has made them resistant to change.

Others are said to be “chaotic and continually changing”.

The schools told Ofsted the problems are a result of difficulty recruiting and retaining good teachers, poor parental motivation and unstable pupil populations.

Ofsted chief inspector Amanda Spielman said: “Stuck schools are facing a range of societal problems such as cultural isolation, a jobs market skewed towards big cities and low expectations from parents.

“However, we have shown that schools in these places can still be good or better by holding teachers to high standards, tackling bad behaviour and getting the right leadership in place.

“Our inspectors have found that the majority of schools in challenging areas are providing children with a good education that sets them up to succeed in later life.

“What the remaining stuck schools need is tailored, specific and pragmatic advice that suits their circumstances – not a carousel of consultants.”

Last year Ofsted revealed that a quarter of secondary schools in Southend had been falling behind the national standard after Cecil Jones Academy was rated as inadequate and Southchurch High School and Chase High School were rated requires improvement.

The council also pledged to distribute a share of £100,000 to the three schools in order to help them make improvements to become ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

When the funding was announced the council’s director of learning, Brin Martin said he suspected behaviour and discipline was at the root of the problem.

Councillor Anne Jones, cabinet member for children and learning at Southend Council said: “One of our ambitions is to become a place where every child is able to attend a ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ rated school.

“The council is committed to making this happen and at the beginning of last year a one-off investment of £100,000 was made to support three secondary schools achieve just that.

“Whilst these schools are all academies and the council is not obliged to provide this funding, it is important that we work with the academy trusts, regional schools commissioner and Department of Education to support them in the move to become schools rated ‘good’.

“We are monitoring their progression and I am confident that these schools are on a very strong improvement journey.”

Chase High School and Cecil Jones Academy were contacted for comment.

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]