Thursday, February 26, 2009
ELSTOW LOWER SCHOOL IS OUTSTANDING... AGAIN!
Elstow Lower School, where I am Vice Chair of Governors, was the 1st Lower School in Bedfordshire rated Outstanding by Ofsted in 2005/6. The Ofsted Inspection regime is now more rigorous and inspections are conducted at 2 days' notice to give a more genuine impression of school performance to Inspectors.
The school was inspected during the recent freezing cold, snowy weather in early February. All the staff, governors and children braved the weather when most of the Bedfordshire schools were closed and passed the inspection with flying colours. Once again Elstow Lower has been rated Outstanding and even the governors were rated outstanding! This is an exceptional school led by a dedicated Head Teacher Jenny Winder, enthusiastic staff and governors which draws its children not only from Elstow village but also from socially deprived families in South Bedford and many of our children do not speak English as their first language.
On Wednesday we had the final meeting of the County Council Children's Services Committee, of which I am Vice Chairman. Since my election as a County Councillor in 2005 a lot of effort has been put into improving Children's Services, which were in 'Special Measures' in 2004. The School Improvement Programme has produced much improved GCSE examination results and performance improvement in most of the Bedford Borough Upper Schools and we now have a number of Outstanding or Good Schools.
Remembering the horror of the recent Baby P case, it is reassuring for you to know that Bedfordshire's Child Protection Service is now one of only 17 rated Outstanding in England, its Youth Offending Service is rated No.1 in England, and our Fostering and Adoption Service is also rated Outstanding. When Bedfordshire County Council finally 'shuts up shop' on 31 March 2009 Children's Services will be handed over to the new Bedford Unitary Council in excellent order.
Tonight I was one of 100 school governors from the 79 schools in Bedford Borough invited to meet Chris Hilliard, the new Director of Children's Services in Bedford Unitary Council. Chris will have 5 Assistant Directors including 2 senior County Council Officers, John Goldsmith and Katie Theodore. Hopefully this team will continue to build on the County Council's success and provide a high class service for the people of Bedford Borough from 1 April 2009 onwards.