'Serious concerns' over Cumbrian secondary schools

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Schools inspectors say they have "serious concerns" about the quality of secondary education in Cumbria.

Ofsted has published its findings following inspections of 17 schools across the county.

Performance in coastal and urban areas is "of particular concern" along with the low achievement of students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Cumbria County Council said it was "working hard to improve performance across schools".

Inspectors found GCSE results for children at the age of 16 have been significantly below the national average in the past two years - with the gap widening.

Michael Cladingbowl, Ofsted's regional director for the North West, said: "These findings raise serious concerns about the quality of secondary education in Cumbria where too few secondary schools are good.

"And the picture is not improving.

"There is too little evidence to suggest that the council is providing an effective and shared strategy to improve the quality of education across the county.

"This needs to be urgently addressed."

'Much to do'

The inspections were carried out in November and December following concerns about the poor performance of secondary schools.

Ofsted said five were put in special measures - the lowest ranking.

These are Stainburn School, West Cumbria Learning Centre and Southfield Technology College in Workington, Walney School in Barrow and Richard Rose Morton Academy in Carlisle.

Another five were found to require improvement and one had serious weaknesses.

None was judged to be outstanding.

Councillor Anne Burns, cabinet member for children's services, said: "We accept Ofsted's analysis of the current situation and know there is much more to do to ensure all Cumbrian secondary schools are providing the quality of education that parents and pupils have a right to expect.

"But it's also right to point out that 65% of Cumbria secondary school pupils attend a school that is 'good' or 'outstanding'."

Correction 11 February 2014: This story was changed to reflect the fact that Samuel King's School in Alston was not put in special measures by Ofsted, but was one of the five schools found to require improvement

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