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Middlesbrough rapped over 'unacceptable' standards of education in its schools

Ofsted has criticised “unacceptable” standards of education in Middlesbrough, after a report revealed over half of the town’s secondary school students attend a school that is less than good.

A third of all pupils in primaries and secondaries in the northeastern town attend a school rated either "inadequate" or "requires improvement", prompting the watchdog in January to swoop in to scrutinise what measures were being taken to improve the quality of education on offer.

And in a letter to Middlesbrough Council published today, Her Majesty’s Inspector Aelwyn Pugh described the authority’s arrangements for supporting school improvement as “ineffective”.

The council, Ms Pugh writes, “has not established effective partnerships with schools, particularly secondaries. It has failed to balance promoting greater autonomy and school-to-school support with maintaining a secure enough oversight of performance.”

It has failed to improve educational standards, which are “well below” national averages in every key stage, the letter continues, and the second worst in the region.

The leadership from elected members in the council is weak, Ms Pugh adds.

Nick Hudson, Ofsted’s regional director for the North East, Yorkshire and Humber, said that the council’s performance was “very concerning”.

“Urgent action must be taken so that pupils are given the opportunities they need to succeed and to improve their life chances,” he added.

Brenda Thompson, Middlesbrough Council’s executive councillor for children’s services, said the report was "disappointing".

“The need to improve support to schools has already been recognised within the authority, which led to the creation of the Middlesbrough Achievement Partnership (MAP) in 2012,” she said.

“What is important now is that we continue to implement the improvements we have ourselves recognised through MAP and to incorporate those highlighted by Ofsted.

“The report outlines six areas where swift action is necessary and these have already been made a priority to be acted on.

“We are confident that the direction we are taking with our school heads and governors will lead to significant improvement in results for our children.”

Middlesbrough was not the only object of Ofsted's wrath this week. Teachers at Acland Burghley secondary school in Camden, North London, are believed to be the first in the country to be explicitly criticised for their attire.

After visiting the school, Ofsted inspector Mark Phillips wrote to the principal stating that while some staff "dress in a business-like fashion", others fail to take sufficient care in their appearance.

In some cases, he continues, "teachers’ attire is too casual and does not promote high professional standards or expectations”.

Last month, Ofsted revealed that trainee teachers' attire would be made an important part of teacher training inspections.

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