Number of Sunderland pupils in good or outstanding schools is up - but city still trails

Staff and pupils at Washington's Columbia Grange School celebrate its third successive 'outstanding' rating

Staff and pupils at Washington's Columbia Grange School celebrate its third successive 'outstanding' rating

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Sunderland has the lowest percentage of children in schools rated 'good or outstanding' across Tyne and Wear.

But new figures from schools watchdog Ofsted still show more than nine out of ten primary age chidren and two out of three secondary pupils are attending schools in its top two categories.

Ninety-three per cent of primary pupils are attending good or outstanding schools, a rise of four per cent since last year and up 32 per cent over the last four years.

Sixty-four per cent of secondary children are in 'good or outstanding schools', a drop of six per cent since last year but still 21 per cent up on 2012.

Across the region, 88% of primary schoolchildren and 75% of secondary age pupils now attend a good or better school regionally, compared with just 66% and 58% respectively in 2012, and further education colleges in the North East, Yorkshire and Humber are among the best in the country, with 92% judged good or outstanding as of August, compared with 77% nationally.

The regionwide picture on education standards is more mixed, however. Provisional data for this year show the overall average Progress 8 score at key stage 4 is below the national state-funded schools level and the lowest of the nine regions, although it has improved year-on-year.

But the proportion of early years children achieving a good level of development improved by 5.3 percentage points this year on 2015, the largest improvement by any region and as a result, the North East is no longer the weakest performing region nationally.

Ofsted Regional Director for North East, Yorkshire and Humber Cathryn Kirby said: "I am cautiously optimistic about the performance of schools in the area. But I know there are still significant challenges ahead.

"Most young children get off to a good start: more than nine out of 10 early years providers are at least good. That means that young children typically have a good early education.

"When they progress to primary school, the vast majority of young people attend a good or outstanding school. That is, 89% of primary schools in the North East, Yorkshire and Humber were judged to be good or better at their last inspection. That’s a bigger proportion than was the case four years ago.

"Looking across the North East, credit must be given to the teachers and school leaders because the region’s primary schools maintained their strong performance, with the most recent outcomes for 11-year-olds second only to London.

"However, many children attend a good primary school only to go on to a secondary school that could be better. Around 30% of the region’s secondary schools either require improvement or are inadequate. In all, a quarter of 11- to 16-year-olds still do not attend a good school. They deserve better.

"It is clear that within the context of a mixed picture, there is much to celebrate in the North East, Yorkshire and Humber. Many school leaders and teachers can be rightly proud of their hard work and professionalism.

"But I am well aware, as we approach 2017, that much has still to be done. In the year ahead, I want to see sustained improvement in secondary schools, in particular for the most able and disadvantaged pupils."

Network SCHOOLS NorthEast represents all 1,250 schools in the region and is governed by a board of 28 Head Teachers. Director Mike Parker said: "We would like to congratulate the fantastic efforts of primary schools across the North East. We also welcome the news that around 60,000 more pupils in our region are in Good or Outstanding schools compared with five years ago.

"At secondary level, we have seen good and outstanding school numbers rise significantly in recent years, which is testimony to the skills and dedication of our secondary leaders.

This report is the last under Ofsted Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, who will be stepping down in January and replaced by Amanda Spielman, former Chair of exam regulator Ofqual: "Schools’ focus on being Ofsted-compliant is to the detriment of other, more important issues," siad Mike Parker.

"Ofsted has become too high stakes for schools to innovate, because taking the risk to test new methods could be very punishing.

"Perhaps the new Chief Inspector will provide a more nuanced, innovative approach and hopefully set a better tone for schools."