Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 12.56.04IMPROVEMENTS to the support provided to Middlesbrough schools have been endorsed by education watchdog Ofsted.

In their latest report, inspectors point to ‘significant improvements’ and ‘strong leadership’ from elected members and senior officers.

The team highlighted strengthened arrangements for school improvement and acknowledged that raising the quality of education is at the heart of the Council’s regeneration programme.

The four-strong inspection team’s conclusions followed a three-day visit in February during which they spoke to senor officers and councillors and gathered evidence from headteachers and governors from 33 schools.

The inspection followed a report in March, 2014 which found the authority was ineffective in providing support to schools.

That led to the implementation of a School Effectiveness Strategy (SES) which sought to improve the way Middlesbrough Council supports, challenges, monitors and intervenes in schools.

In his latest report published today (May 22) Her Majesty’s Inspector Robert Pyner said: “The local authority has made some significant improvements relating to the recommendations from the inspection in January 2014.

“The local authority has strengthened its arrangements for school improvement. Following an extensive consultation with school leaders, the School Effectiveness Strategy (SES) was implemented in the autumn.

“Senior officers and elected members provide strong leadership and have used the support and challenge from Ofsted’s HMI in the region effectively since the last inspection.

“Elected members recognise the importance of strong outcomes for schools and the council’s aspiration is for all schools to be ‘outstanding’ within five years.”

Following the latest inspection, the regional Senior HMI will continue to monitor the local authority’s performance and decide on any future inspections.

The report also highlights the importance of the Middlesbrough Achievement Partnership (MAP), which brings together schools and the local authority to support development and monitor outcomes, and the Middlesbrough Schools’ Teaching Alliance, which has strong links with Council school improvement service personnel.

A key element of the SES is the introduction of secondary school improvement partners, who will offer subject expertise in English, Maths and Science to support all secondary schools and academies with the aim of achieving rapid improvements in attainment.

A new post of Head of Achievement has also been created to deliver the strategy, challenge school performance and champion the provision of high quality education for all.

While the number of students achieving five GCSE passes at grades A* to C including English and mathematics remains below the national average, inspectors found the rate of improvement to be greater than the national figures, for both disadvantaged and other pupils.

Latest figures also show that the proportion of young people aged 16 to 18 in education, employment or training is increasing at a faster rate than seen nationally.

The report highlights a number of areas for improvement, including raising achievement and reducing the attainment gap between disadvantaged and other pupils.

Councillor Jan Brunton, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Education and Skills, said: “I’m delighted that Ofsted have acknowledged the work that has been undertaken to support schools across Middlesbrough.

“We are committed to creating strong partnerships, both with schools and the communities they serve, to ensure the best possible outcomes for all our young people.

“Good schools are fundamental in ensuring they have the best start in life, and we are fully committed to providing constructive support and intervention.

“I’m also pleased that these improvements have been recognised as forming a key element of Middlesbrough’s ongoing regeneration.”