Bath and NE Somerset

27th October 2000 at 01:00
Authorities cannot afford complacency over achieving merely average results, say latest inspection reports on education services

AN authority running education services in one of England's most popular tourist spots was given a largely glowing report by inspectors, writes Warwick Mansell.

Bath and north-east Somerset, having made an "uncertain" start following its establishment as a unitary authority in 1996, is performing well and has few major weaknesses.

Director David Williams has "set a clear agenda for the education department with a strong focus on school improvement", Office for Standards in Education inspectors said.

Pupils arrive at primary school with higher-than-average achievement levels. The proportion of free school meals is well below the national average.

Yet the authority's sixth forms were criticised for "underperformance" as A-level results tended to be in line only with national averages, actally slipping below average in 1999.

This was despite secondary schools achieving results above national averages at both GCSE and key stage 2. The authority was aware of the need to review provision, but "had not yet devoted much attention to these issues".

Inspectors also found evidence of a "legacy of complacency" in a few schools. Where results were in line with national averages, some governors were unconvinced that the school had weaknesses. The condition of many school buildings was "desperately poor".

Half of the authority's population live in Bath, the rest in surrounding towns and villages - an area which has pockets of deprivation between affluent districts.

Strengths

Support for schools' target-setting

Support for early years

Support for behaviour

Administration of admissions

Financial planning

Weaknesses

Support for ICT in the curriculum

Property services


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