Saturday, July 20, 2024

Thurrock primary schools ranked “third worst in the country”

THURROCK primary schools have been branded the third worst in the country, according to Ofsted’s annual report.

In a damning report, only 49% of pupils attend a primary school in Thurrock, which has received a good or outstanding Ofsted report, leaving only Derby and Coventry beneath them.

The report is now going to heap pressure on the local education authority to take radical action, which may include fast-tracking all schools to academy status as Ofsted will no doubt put them under the microscope.

Others point to the Gateway Learning Community where the Gateway Academy has built a partnership with Herringham Academy, the Gateway Free School and Lansdowne Academy as the relationship between

Over the last two weeks, both Aveley primary and Stanford-le-Hope primary received reports that told the schools they “required improvement” with withering criticism of standards and leadership.

By comparison, the best-performing area was Camden, where 92% of students go to schools which are “outstanding or good.” even though the borough contains more poor households than almost any other part of the country.

Nearer to home: Havering at 79%, Newham at 75%, Greenwich at 68%, Southend at 66%, Barking and Dagenham at 63% and Essex at 61% illustrate how far Thurrock has fallen behind.

Cllr Oliver Gerrish, speaking after Ofsted’s announcement said: “It is disappointing to see these bare statistics, without taking into account the fact that Ofsted say we are among the best improved areas in the country.

“Over the past two years there have been some tremendous improvements in primary performance. If 49 per cent of pupils attending good or outstanding schools seems poor – two years ago the figure was 33 per cent, so it’s up from a third to a half.

“I know it’s not good enough and I’ve said time after time, we want all Thurrock’s schools to be at least good if not outstanding. That is still our aim and we are on the right track if not quickly enough.”

He added: “This is backed up by the recent improvements in our Early Years Foundation Stage where we have reached the national average in three years from being well below and at Key Stage 1 where we now exceed the national average in Reading and Maths and are at the national average in Writing.

“In the new Phonics Test taken in Year 1, Thurrock children are performing exactly at the national average and this year the improvement trend at Key Stage 2 showed Thurrock schools were improving at a faster rate than nationally – halving the gap that existed three years ago.

“These improvements in performance will undoubtedly contribute to better Ofsted judgements over time.

“This has been achieved by a significant investment in school improvement support by Thurrock Council – £250k growth – against a national picture of central grant reductions for this type of work.

“We are working together with stronger schools to support the weaker ones, and not ruling out any routes which will lead to improvement.”

Cllr Gerrish also said that there has been a significant improvement in our primary schools, and the borough’s secondary schools and outstanding special schools are doing very well.

“Something we have also seen improve in the past couple of years is the recruitment and retention of head teachers in the borough – people want to come and work here and they want to stay because they see the way things are going.”

One chair of governors at a local primary school said: “While there is no doubt that the picture painted by these latest figures is of great concern to residents in Thurrock, I can only speak as I have found in my recent dealings with the local authority education team.

“Our school certainly has issues, which the council’s improvement team have helped us identify, and I am confident that they will help us get back on track.

“The additional help has come at no additional cost to our school and comes from the funds that the council have put aside for just this purpose, which is evidence to me that they are well aware of the issue and prepared to do something positive about it.

“Our figures show an increasing commitment to working with children with special education needs, which is a huge draw on the finances of the education authority and out school and if I am honest, I wonder sometimes where the parental responsibility is too.

“I have no wish to paint over our own failings in school, we have identified them and are addressing them, but in my personal opinion many parents abdicate their responsibility to their children onto schools and it is no surprise to me that the overall picture can be painted in such a gloomy light – but there are also many beacons shining in our borough from my colleagues at other local primary, infant and junior schools and I very much hope that thanks to the help of the education authority we will be among them in the near future.”

The author of the report, chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, said this was leading to “serious inequalities” for millions of children.

Sir Michael said: “The inequalities for local children are stark.”

“That’s why I intend from January to use Ofsted’s new regional structure to inquire further into areas that are performing badly,” said Sir Michael.

“We need to find out what is happening and inspect where necessary. We will also work with local areas to support then and help them link up with best practice.”

“There are differences between local authorities with similar demographics,” Sir Michael told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“We’ll be looking very carefully at what’s happening in those local authorities with the same sort of population, with similar levels of deprivation, similar numbers of children on free school meals, where one particular local authority does extremely well and another one doesn’t.

“We’ll be asking a question – why is it parents in some parts of the country have less than a 50% chance of getting their children into a good primary school where there are other parts of the country where that chance is over 90%?”


  1. My one big fear when Thurrock became a unitary authority was that education would suffer in the hands of our local officials nothing has changed to alter that opinion.Both of the two main parties were guilty of this lack of care,the quicker our existing schools become acadamies the better for the children.

  2. Well said Perman, for far too long the education of the boroughs children has been second rate due to the local policies put in place by successive councils, academies give the schools more freedom to run the schools as they should be ran without interference from local politics

  3. Big article in Independent and other papers. ” Post Code Education “…
    One of the reasons this Borough went Unitary was to improve the education standards of the young. As it was reasoned then IN 1997 as is is now, if an 11 year old cannot read or write and the 50% failure level has been in vogue since the 1980’s in Thurrock then this will severely impact upon Secondary Education learning / budgets. The 50% do fail again in the secondary school years as there is really no way to catch up except if you put in more resources not possible because of budgets or dump the individual and persevere with the rest. With the closure of Torrells many teachers pointed out this terrible situation and no one listened. It is vitally important to deal with Primary Education needs in the Borough now. Because the failure of 11 year olds to grasp the basics of reading and writing will always swallow up any new initiative (Academies) and resources. This Borough needs to stop churning out youth only fit for the unskilled Labour Market – this Borough lost these types of k]jobs in the 1970′ /80’s and they will not return. Life is not easy and we need to give our Children / Youth the best start possible in this ever increasing competitive world, instead of consigning them to the benefits system automatically.

  4. My feeling is that if Thurrock was a part of Essex County Council area the schools would not be so bad. More children would also have access to grammar school education as well.


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