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A Straightforward Lie

Feb 5

(updated Feb 23 to correct data)

Suffolk County Council's propaganda leaflet "The Myths - The Facts", printed at taxpayers' expense, appears to contain a straightforward lie, a new analysis by the National Middle Schools Foundation shows.

The Council's leaflet states:

FACT: Between 1992 and 2000, five local authorities changed significant numbers of schools from three-tier to two-tier (Doncaster, Sheffield, Buckinghamshire, Hampshire and Warwickshire). These authorities are making better improvements and more quickly than Suffolk at Key Stage 2 and GSCE level.

Well, no, actually. This isn't true. They are doing worse than Suffolk, and they are doing worse than the national average.

Here is the NMSF's table showing the performance of those education authorities since 1997, the year in which Southhampton (not Hampshire as a whole) became a unitary authority and switched to two-tier education. The table compares these five authorities with the three authorities which have retained substantial numbers of three-tier schools: Suffolk, Northumberland and Bedfordshire.

Pupils gaining five or more A*-C grades at GCSE

Two-tier switch 1997 2006 Change
Doncaster 33.8% 51.9% 18.1
Sheffield 38.3% 48.5% 10.2
Buckinghamshire 59.7% 68.8% 9.1
Warwickshire 44.5% 58.5% 14.0
Southampton 40.9% 48.4% 7.5
    Average 11.78
Kept three-tier      
Suffolk 47.4% 59.2% 11.8
Northumberland 43.2% 61.7% 18.5
Bedfordshire 44.3% 56.1% 11.8
    Average 14.0
National averages 45.1% 58.5% 13.4

Three of the five councils which switched have made less progress than Suffolk over the past decade. Writes NMSF's executive officer Nigel Wyatt:

" Overall the three tier authorities have made greater progress than those that reorganised. The authorities that have retained their three tier systems have made greater progress than all school nationally. The authorities that reorganised have made less progress than all schools nationally.

Suffolk County Council are simply wrong to state that reorganisation has led to improved standards at GCSE in these five authorities."

Parents against Change urges you to write to your County Councillor and MP, asking for an explanation.