Why Educate Norfolk?
Schools are responsible for their own improvement but increasingly they also help to improve each other, with the full range of staff, including teachers, leaders and teaching assistants – linking with peers in other schools.
The primary, secondary and special school senior leader associations are creating innovative systems and networks to generate a sense that we are all in this together.
Most schools are now part of several different forms of overlapping local and national networks. Within schools, mutual support and collaboration are also critical if all pupils are to be given a fantastic education, whatever class they are in or subject they are taking.
Education in Norfolk is incredibly diverse. Norfolk is the fifth largest shire county and has schools in urban centres, rural villages, coastal towns and market towns, all with their own strengths and challenges.
There are 430 state schools – 363 Primary (including Infant and Junior), 52 Secondary, two ‘all through’ and 11 Special, ranging in size from 10 to 1,820 pupils. Many of these schools are academies or maintained schools; some are free schools. Increasingly schools of all types are part of formal federations or trusts. Some schools are also Teaching Schools, working with other partner schools to generate improvement. In addition, there are 12 Independent Schools, three Sixth Form Colleges, four Further Education Colleges and 29 training providers with delivery bases.
When thinking about education challenges, many people instinctively think of inner city schools in London or Birmingham. Of course, every area has its own challenges and Norfolk is no exception, with its diverse economies located in rural, urban and coastal environments. There are so many opportunities to make a difference in our schools and colleges – our education workforce is already doing so every day.
Norfolk has above average deprivation compared with the English shire counties and on most measures is the most deprived county in the East of England region. Yet of course not all ‘deprived’ people live in deprived areas and not everyone living in a deprived area is ‘deprived’.
Much has been made about the outcomes of ‘white, working class’ children. This helps us to contextualise some of the challenges we face but is no excuse for low expectations. Education in Norfolk is improving all the time – in student outcomes and progression beyond school and in Ofsted judgements – and we will keep working together to ensure a good education for every child.
We want what is best for our young people but – crucially – we want them to want it! Every member of every school community needs to have high expectations of themselves and each other.
There are many stereotypes about rural children having low aspirations, and part of our mission is to challenge that perception. Our job is to help young people recognise they all have hopes, dreams and desires, and that they can achieve them. Furthermore, it is about making use of the world-class industries and sectors operating in Norfolk to show them just what is possible and the levels they can reach.
Being part of Norfolk education can be a springboard for your career. Those who bring their skills to Norfolk will be given opportunities to develop even further and to progress to wherever they want to be: whether that is to hone expertise in teaching through research, to support other schools in getting to where they need to be, or to progress into leadership of a school or a group of schools.