EDUCATION: WEST SUSSEX

23rd October 2017

Sir Nicholas Soames: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps her Department is taking to work with West Sussex County Council on improving educational results in that area.

Mr Robert Goodwill, Minister of State for Children and Families: The Regional Schools Commissioner for the South East and South London (SESL) and members of his team meet senior officials from West Sussex County Council (WSCC) regularly. Following the publication of the Key Stage 2 (KS2) and Key Stage 4 (KS4) results for 2017 officials challenged WSCC on the poor performance of West Sussex local council (LC) maintained schools at KS2 in particular. Provisional Key Stage 1 data shows that the LC is below the national average in all subject areas. We also asked them to set out their plans to address that performance.

SESL officials also examine the performance of academies and academy trusts, and ask them to account for poor performance. Where we have concerns, we may commission experienced Education Advisers to visit individual schools to assess the trust’s capacity to make improvements. Depending on the adviser’s findings we may direct the trust to take specific actions and will continue to monitor progress closely where we have concerns.

Officials are working with WSCC to improve the performance of maintained schools and academies in West Sussex in a number of ways. Following their most recent meeting with WSCC, officials will be issuing a joint statement of school improvement principles to the sector to help demonstrate that we are taking a coordinated approach. They are also working with WSCC to develop and coordinate strong and strategic bids for support under the School to School Improvement Fund, building on a project to support maths at KS2 that was supported in the first round.

Operationally, officials are in active discussions with WSCC to identify specific schools where an academy solution would be beneficial post KS2 results, and to undertake a programme of joint visits to those schools to encourage them to move to academy status. Officials have also asked WSCC to support multi academy trusts (MAT) looking to deliver school improvement via the MAT Development and Improvement Fund in approaching LC schools to join those MATs and access the available support. This funding is targeted specifically at Achieving Excellence Areas in Arun, Worthing and Crawley.

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