The East of England and North East London is split by fifteen local authority areas which contain just over 2,500 schools in total. There are many reasons to be optimistic in the region, in part due to ongoing improvement in education standards.
The latest provisional Key Stage 2 results (typically children aged 11) might suggest the region is performing on a par with the rest of the country – with an average 80 per cent of pupils achieving the expected level in reading, writing and maths. But what is really encouraging is the progress we have seen in the last year. From 2014-15, there were six local authority areas which witnessed greater progress than the national average and five where it was at least equal.
A similar trend can be seen in the latest provisional GCSE results (typically children aged 16) which show the region to be on a par with national results and much encouraging progress.
Over 600 schools in the region are already academies or free schools. As part of this picture, there are also over 100 multi-academy trust sponsors – the groups we have deemed strong enough to support or take-over additional schools. There are encouraging signs for how the region’s academies are making the most of the freedoms they have been granted – at age 11, from 2014 to 2015 the proportion of pupils meeting the expected standard improved by more than the national average.
But there is clearly more work to be done. This year I want to further develop the strong collaboration and networks which already exist in the region and which are driving improvements in schools. I want to help education leaders to work together and develop new networks that others can draw on to foster improvement. And I am particularly keen to see increasing numbers of strong academy sponsors and free schools in the region. These plans are supported by my Headteacher Board which is made up of successful local school leaders.
So how can you help? The region would benefit from increasing numbers of business people who are able to play a non-executive role as part of an academy or free school. Schools will benefit from the leadership experience and commercial expertise you have. One such example is Theodore Agnew – who followed a number of pursuits before settling on business process outsourcing through his highly successful ‘Town & Country Assistance’ company. He has since played a pivotal role in the Inspiration Trust which leads more than 10 academies in East Anglia.
Sue Baldwin, Regional Schools Commissioner for the East of England and North East London