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Uttoxeter schools must take the reigns to improve

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UTTOXETER’S failing schools are being challenged to ‘take control of their own futures’ as part of education chiefs’ new strategy.

Three of Uttoxeter’s biggest schools - Windsor Park and Oldfields Hall middle schools and Thomas Alleyne’s High School - were told they required improvement after their most recent Ofsted inspections.

Now Staffordshire County Council has launched its new Learning and Skills Strategy, which will see the education authority take a step back from its traditional role.

It is hoped that by improving governors’ work and giving head teachers more control, the majority of Staffordshire’s schools will be rated ‘good’ by 2016.

Ben Adams, county council cabinet member for learning and skills, said: “The education landscape is changing, with schools becoming self-managing and responsible for their own performance.

“As part of that process, the council’s role is changing from being a direct provider of services to commissioning them.

“That means supporting school leaders by commissioning specific teaching help for individual schools, improving the training and development of governors so they can ask head teachers the right questions about their school’s performance and providing parents with more details about performance so they can make informed decisions.

“I was disappointed that Oldfields Hall, Windsor Park and Thomas Alleyne’s found themselves in this position, but I am pleased that there is either a new head in place, or arriving soon, at each school and governors are taking the first steps towards the necessary long-term improvement.

“We have a team working with each of the schools providing advice and specialist help where it is needed and we hope they can make great strides quickly.”

Mr Adams has stressed that governors will be challenged to ‘walk the tightrope’ between offering ‘wholehearted support’ and being a ‘critical friend’.

He said they will be offered support to better-understand information about their schools’ performances, which will be ‘closely monitored’ by the council.

He said: “In Uttoxeter there will be exciting opportunities to improve and expand facilities as the population grows and we will work closely with the schools there to discuss that future, as residents have the right to expect we will explore all opportunities for getting the best education for their children and grandchildren.

“Although we believe every school in the county should be rated at least ‘good’ by Ofsted, this strategy is also about offering children the best careers advice from an early age.”

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