Affluent Sutton sails through inspection

16th March 2001 at 00:00
There are more strengths than weaknesses in the well-run education authority of Sutton, according to inspectors.

They say the relatively small and affluent outer London borough, where most secondary schools were formerly grant-maintained, has changed and improved its strategy for supporting schools in the past two years.

"Where intervention is necessary the LEA is effective," says the report. "Officers maintain a dynamic and effective relationship with schools." But, "there is scope for a lighter touch for successful schools".

The inspectors say standards and quality of education in the LibDem-controlled borough's 43 primary and 14 secondary schools exceed those in similar authorities.

At the time of the inspection, there were no schools in special measures or judged to have very serious weaknesses.

Behaviour support for primary schools has been so effective that there have been no permanent exclusions in the past year. In secondary schools, permanent exclusions are in line with national rates.

However, arrangements for excluded pupils are criticised, with poor management and limied curricular provision, especially at key stage 3, at the pupil referral unit. There are no agreed criteria for re-admitting excluded pupils to secondary schools.

The authority has not yet got control of spending on special educational needs and still does not provide enough support for children with special needs in mainstream schools.

Sutton's two-stage admission procedure for its complex mixture of secondary schools - foundation, grammar, community and voluntary aided - is praised as a "particular success story".

The full report can be obtained on


Sutton's strengths: early years provision; support for literacy; support for schools causing concern; primary behaviour support; administration of admissions; support for school governors; corporate management.

Sutton's weaknesses: control of spending on special educational needs; support for SEN pupils in mainstream schools; educational support for children in care; management of pupil referral units; support for information and communication technology; clarity of school funding.

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