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Dozens of schools sign up for new Suffolk Performance Challenge

PUBLISHED: 07:30 23 October 2018

The Suffolk Performance Challenge brings headteachers together to share best practice at their schools File picture: RACHEL EDGE

The Suffolk Performance Challenge brings headteachers together to share best practice at their schools File picture: RACHEL EDGE

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Scores of Suffolk schools have signed up for a fresh project to boost attainment – but education chiefs have confirmed no extra cash has been pumped into it.

Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for childrens services, education and skills said around 90 schools were already signed up Picture: SIMON LEE PHOTOGRAPHY/SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCILGordon Jones, Suffolk County Council cabinet member for childrens services, education and skills said around 90 schools were already signed up Picture: SIMON LEE PHOTOGRAPHY/SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Papers published ahead of a recent Suffolk County Council meeting revealed a new Suffolk Performance Challenge had been established to boost progress at schools on specific areas as part of the county’s wider Raising the Bar scheme.

Gordon Jones, Conservative cabinet member for education, said: “There is not additional funding but it’s actually doing what businesses should be doing – using best practice and challenging each other.”

Now, Mr Jones has revealed more details of how the challenge works, with 90 schools having so far signed up.

The challenge connects headteachers together who work in trios to review each other’s progress and share examples of good practice.

Labour education spokesman Jack Abbott questioned how the scheme was being funded Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCILLabour education spokesman Jack Abbott questioned how the scheme was being funded Picture: SUFFOLK COUNTY COUNCIL

Groups meet twice a year, and include both primary and secondary level education academies, local authority schools and free schools.

It was launched at the start of the autumn term, although it is not yet clear how long it will run for.

Mr Jones said funding from the scheme was around £300,000 and had come from inside the Raising the Bar pot, not from fresh funding.

“Suffolk County Council is very much the enabler and facilitator for this initiative, reflecting the new role for the council in the changing national educational landscape,” he said.

However, Labour spokesman for education Jack Abbott has questioned the funding.

He said: “At a council meeting just last week, I asked Councillor Jones about the council’s financial backing for this new scheme and in his reply he made it clear there would be ‘no additional funding’.

“However, less than a week later, he has announced a budget of £300k of reallocated money from Raising the Bar, a project that now looks to be coming to an end.

“Either he has already u-turned on his previous ‘no funding’ position or the cabinet member for education did not know the detail of his own initiative.

“This new plan may have some merit, but it will only be successful if there is a real desire and commitment from the Conservatives.”

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