THURROCK’S education chief, Cllr John Kent says he is “really pleased” Ofsted has “recognised the rapid improvement we have made”.
Cllr Kent, who is also Leader of the Council, was speaking after the government inspectors published their letter to the council following a “focused” inspection regime of the borough.
Ofsted carried out inspections of seven schools – six primaries and a secondary – as well as a telephone survey of nine others, and issued its letter on Tuesday (8 April).
He said: “When you read the letter you see how Ofsted have recognised how far we have come in the last year. The letter speaks of improvements over the past 12 months, of a new optimism among head teachers and governors, of improving support and challenge, and of successfully maintaining productive partnerships with academies and free schools.
“Overall the letter is very positive saying we have changed the historic image of the council, highlighting optimism about our leadership, our data on achievement, our evaluation of data, and that ‘the reports received by schools, are perceived to be of a high quality’ with a number of head teachers describing this as ‘excellent’.”
Cllr Kent said: “This letter and the reports of all the schools inspected will form part of our continuing improvement.
“What is particularly pleasing is that things have moved on apace since Ofsted’s visits.
“Their telephone survey happened a day before the heads’ vision conference and a week before the governors’ conference which concentrated on ambition and vision. It was also before cabinet met, before council and before the Education Alliance and Excellence Network’s latest meetings.
“A great deal has happened in those few weeks, the first meeting of the Alliance two weeks ago, for example, was really positive and gave me great confidence that the schools – teachers and governors – will continue working with the council towards a common aim and vision.
“The Education Alliance knows the need to set stretching targets for all our schools and all our schools – along with Ofsted – recognise the tremendous pace of change that’s happening here in Thurrock.”
He added: “I have three children, all in different schools or colleges in Thurrock. Like every parent, I want the best possible outcomes for my children, so I have a personal and major stake in making sure our improvement continues. I am determined to ensure it does exactly that.
“I am now even more confident about our future relationship with schools and where education in Thurrock is going. The ‘history’ is behind us and we are now all working and looking forward towards the same aim.
“We know we’re not there yet, but we are heading in the right direction and it’s pleasing to know that Ofsted agree with that.”