Category Archives: Education

More disappointing education results released

Labour’s Education Spokesperson on Suffolk County Council has called for an urgent review of education in Suffolk after another disappointing set of statistics were released.

Cllr Jack Abbott has made the intervention after the latest round of education statistics revealed that pupils in Suffolk continue to lag behind the national average in terms of their attainment levels.

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‘Disappointing’ Key Stage 1 results released

Following the release of the Key Stage 1 phonics test results by the Department of Education Labour Councillors are calling for Suffolk County Council to do more as once again the phonics test results show Suffolk children are behind the national average in all subjects of reading, writing, mathematics and science.

The figures released today show that there has been no relative increase in the standard of Suffolk pupils at Key Stage 1 despite the administration spending large amounts of money on Raising the Bar and school improvement generally. There was no Key Stage 1 phonics subject in which Suffolk reached the national average in either category of ‘reaching the expected standard’ or ‘working at greater depth’.

Labour Spokesperson for Children’s Services Cllr Helen Armitage; “These results are very disappointing for everyone concerned, it shows that despite the best efforts of the administration Suffolk still lags behind the national average in all four areas of reading writing, maths and science.

“I would like to see more done to ensure that our children are given the support they need to increase their skills in these basics so that less intervention is needed as they move through their school years. All the evidence shows that the better a child’s skills in these core subjects early in life the better their long-term life chances”.



Notes to Editors

The tables can be found at

It’s time to stand up for Suffolk schools

Shrugging your shoulders is not good enough; it’s time to stand up for Suffolk schools

Labour Councillors are calling for tougher action from the Suffolk County Council administration after it was announced that under changes to the Government’s school funding system, Suffolk faces a real-term cut in pupil spending from 2018. Labour are deeply concerned that this significant cut will lead to a drop in educational outcomes for the children of Suffolk.

Under the National Funding Formula (NFF) update, pupil spending in Suffolk schools will be hundreds of pounds below the national average and much lower than in 2010 when the Conservatives came to power. This cut means Suffolk will remain in the bottom 50 authorities for both primary and secondary funding.

According to analysis of Department of Education (DfE) data, pupil spending will fall to £4,347, down from £4,470 in 2010 and well below the funding received in both Essex and Norfolk. For primary school funding, Suffolk will receive £273 less per pupil than the national average; this figure increases to £415 less per pupil in secondary schools.

On nearly every single key performance metric, including Reading, Writing and Mathematics, Suffolk falls behind the national average in Key Stages 1 and 2. Fewer pupils achieve a C grade in GCSE Maths and English in Suffolk than they do nationwide. The difference in attainment between non-disadvantaged and disadvantaged pupils is narrowing but still stands at -5 when compared nationally.[1] Labour are deeply concerned that this issue will be compounded by the proposed cut.

Labour Spokesperson for Education, Skills and ICT Cllr Jack Abbott said; “I make no apology for demanding that our schools are funded properly, to ensure that all young people in Suffolk have an equal opportunity to access high quality education, to protect and support the hardworking staff in our schools.

He added; “It’s about time this Tory County Council made the education of Suffolk’s children a priority and fight for the funding our schools so desperately need.

In response to the cut in pupil funding Gordon Jones, Cabinet Member for Education, was reported to simply saying: “We will continue to work through this revised formula.”[2]

This is simply not good enough.

Cllr Abbott has laid down a challenge to the administration saying; “So, to Gordon Jones, Colin Noble and the rest of your Conservatives colleagues I say this; stop simply shrugging your shoulders and start standing up for Suffolk schools. You’ve awarded yourself an 11% pay rise so stop abdicating responsibility and start earning your keep. Get yourself down to London, bang on Justine Greening’s door and demand that our schools in Suffolk are properly funded.

“An injection of investment into our schools is urgently needed, with the impact of underfunding on pupil performance in Suffolk there for all to see”.

Under inflationary pressures, Suffolk schools have already seen costs rise with staff and courses being cut, and parents increasingly being asked to make up the shortfall for school equipment and school trips. This is a financial situation that has already been described as ‘desperate’ and ‘painfully tight’[3] by headteachers in Suffolk.

Labour Back’s Library Campaigners to Support Suffolk Libraries

Labour’s pledge to support campaigners and reverse unnecessary cuts to Suffolk Libraries in bid to keep all Libraries in the County open.

Despite warnings from Suffolk Libraries – who offered the ruling Conservative Group a compromise that would see funds reduced gradually over time, while new funding sources were found and secured, ensuring that all Libraries remain open – the administration at Suffolk County Council last week voted through an extra £200,000 of cuts to the Library service. The Labour Group’s amendment, which was voted down by Conservative and UKIP Councillors in a debate at Full Council on the 9th February, proposed to reverse these cuts and continue negotiation with Suffolk Libraries over their long-term financial sustainability.

In an official statement after the vote, the Chair of Suffolk Libraries, Tony Brown, said “Negotiations and discussions between Suffolk County Council and Suffolk Libraries have been continuing over the past year. Though less than originally proposed, we have reluctantly agreed to accept the £200,000 reduction for 2017/18. In our discussions with the council we have made it clear that we have reached a point at which we cannot make further efficiency savings so a reduction of this level is going to be challenging.”

A spokesperson from Rosehill Campaign Group said, “We are shocked at the Council vote. The County Council is squirrelling away money into its reserves instead of spending it on public services. Yes, we need some financial reserves but not to this level; it cannot be justified. This decision means that essential public services will continue to suffer. This includes our much-loved library service.”

“A few years ago thousands of people signed petitions in Suffolk to keep our libraries open. We are deeply concerned that continued cuts will undermine the viability of our library service. People rely on libraries for a wide range of services. We need to keep our libraries open, keep them healthy and build on their success. The cut-backs suggest that the County Council is completely out of touch with its residents. We have the County Council elections coming up in May – so watch out Suffolk County Council as it will then be our turn to vote…”

Library campaigner, Jennifer Greatrex, said “Just how are the libraries’ board objectives to “protect and improve the service” going to be achieved when £200,000 is cut from their budget? I feel very sorry for all the staff and the volunteers in friends’ groups across the county who have worked so hard to try to ensure that the service evolves to meet the needs of local communities. In times of economic hardship, the libraries are even more important. The ruling group on SCC seems to be obsessed with cuts for cuts sake.”

Labour Spokesperson for Communities, Mandy Gaylard, who was also an active Libraries campaigner in 2011, said “When I became a Councillor in 2013, I promised myself that I would continue the fight to keep Libraries open. Every year, the Conservatives have cut the Library service and refused responsibility for any of the consequences. Every year, Suffolk Libraries have struggled as a result. This cut goes too far and only underlines how little they actually care about the County’s Libraries or listen to the people they claim to represent.”

Cllr Gaylard continued, “What strikes me most is the callous hypocrisy of the administration’s position: they claim to listen, to negotiate with Suffolk Libraries. Yet, when the Library service says that they cannot cope with this cut and go to extraordinary lengths to offer them a viable alternative, they ignore them.”

Cllr Gaylard concluded, “It is heartening to know that important campaigners and activists, who have fought so hard to make our Libraries the excellent resource that they are, support the Labour position. As we head to elections in May, we pledge to immediately reverse these cuts and continue negotiation with Suffolk Libraries if we form an administration after May.”

Notes for Editor

Full Statement from Suffolk Libraries available here:


Ofsted criticise Council School Improvement Service again

Labour Councillors are once again demanding that the Conservative administration on Suffolk County Council do more to ensure children in Suffolk schools are not left behind after another damning report from Ofsted highlighted that a third of pupils in Suffolk do not attend a good school.
Continue reading Ofsted criticise Council School Improvement Service again

Letter to Lowestoft Journal – Carlton Colville road safety

The following is a letter published in today’s Lowestoft Journal.

Dear Sir,

I have noticed in a recent publication of this paper that there has been a misleading account of who has brought about the planned works to resolve road safety at Carlton Primary School.

It has taken a long time to get where we are now, and much pressure has been brought to bear by local Labour Councillor Sonia Barker on Suffolk County Council to firstly acknowledge the problem they left the school with after School Organisation Review, and secondly that they would need to propose new and improved footways and crossing points, encouraging walking and cycling to stop the gridlock outside the school from parked cars.
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Special Education Support Centres – Victory for Parent Power!

Labour County councillors welcome the announcement from the Conservative Cabinet Member for Education to all councillors today to confirm the halt to the consultation into closure of Suffolk’s Specialist Support Centres.
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Cllr Sandy Martin Budget amendment speech

This budget is about the money that this Council has to spend and the ways in which it decides to spend it or not spend it. But the important issue is not the money itself but the effect that it has on people’s lives. We are not bringing this amendment because we have a pathological hatred of financial reserves, but because we have a deep-seated hatred of ill health, and poor education, and unsafe situations for children, and freezing homes for elderly people, and the despair that goes with a life where everything seems to be getting worse. And we resent seeing the Council sit on the financial means to deal with those issues, but do less and less each year.
Continue reading Cllr Sandy Martin Budget amendment speech

Cllr Armitage’s response to Suffolk GCSE results

Dear Sir

Cllr Lisa Chambers, the Conservative County Councillor responsible for education, has seen fit to announce the achievement that Suffolk schools have made in GCSE attainment in 2014, believing that moving from 14th from the bottom to 26th from the bottom of 150 Local Authorities is a great success story for Suffolk. It is true that some schools in Suffolk have improved greatly over the past few years, and it would be remarkable if some schools didn’t in a county the size of Suffolk, however this is little consolation for those children who attend the many schools in Suffolk which aren’t meeting the national targets and especially those that have actually seen a decrease in achievement over the last few years.
Continue reading Cllr Armitage’s response to Suffolk GCSE results

Suffolk schools failing those who need it most

Labour Councillors are demanding that the Conservative administration on Suffolk County Council do more to ensure children from the most vulnerable groups are not ignored after figures released by the Department for Education show that disadvantaged children are being left behind in Suffolk’s schools.
Continue reading Suffolk schools failing those who need it most