Borough told off for smugness

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

A LOCAL authority, whose schools are popular and over-

subscribed, is facing a re-inspection after inspectors criticised it for "complacency".

Enfield, north London, has allowed a "lingering sense of under-expectation" to develop in its schools, a team from the Office for Standards in Education concluded.

Inspectors found that most of the council services performed at least competently, with many described as good or very good.

There was a strong partnership between schools and the authority, and high morale in both.

Director Liz Graham was described as exerting "quiet and purposeful leadership" and the service overall was well-managed, with strong support for literacy and numeracy in primary schools, and for school management.

Yet the council was allowing its schools to set overly-modest improvement targets.

Although low-performing schools set demanding goals, most of those at the top of the league tables were allowed to set targets below their most recent exam results.

The authority's advice and development service was criticised for being "supportive rather than challenging"

In two schools, governors said performance reviews carried out by the authority had not alerted them to weaknesses identified by inspectors six months later.

Overall, pupil performance was broadly in line with national averages, but ought to be higher given the "enviable bedrock" provided by the authority's many good services. Inspectors also described Enfield's school admissions arrangements, which were having to cope with significant numbers of refugees and homeless families, as "highly problematic".

At any time, there were 100-150 pupils who did not have a place at secondary school, for whom the council was forced to arranged "limited" tuition in, for example, libraries.

Inspectors concluded that the authority had the capacity to address its weaknesses. They promised to return within 18 months.

Strengths

Communication and

consultation with schools

Support to schools in special measures

Support for newly-qualified

teachers

Support for in-service training

Support for governors

Weaknesses

School target setting

Education development plan

Identification of schools

causing concern

Aspects of support for ICT

Special educational needs

strategy


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