INSPECTORS have found a North-East council’s efforts to improve local schools to be “ineffective.”

A third of pupils, and more than half of secondary-aged children, attend a school in Middlesbrough that is less than good, says Ofsted in a letter published today.

Ofsted carried out an inspection of Middlesbrough council’s arrangements for school improvement between January 27 and 31 this year.

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This was in response to concerns about the achievement and progress of pupils in primary and secondary schools and the quality of education for young in people in training aged 16 to 18.

In Middlesbrough, attainment at each key stage remains well below national averages and progress slows as pupils get older. The proportion of school leavers not in education, employment or training is almost twice the national average.

Inspectors found that the local authority does not know the schools in the area well and has not established effective partnerships with schools.

It has failed to balance schools’ greater autonomy with maintaining an oversight on their performance.

The leadership from elected members is “weak” and they are not well placed to hold officers and schools to account or to champion young people’s rights to a high quality education.

While the authority has been working more closely with a range of agencies to tackle social, economic and educational barriers to success, this was found not to have had significant impact on the performance of pupils.

Nick Hudson, Ofsted’s regional director for the North East, Yorkshire and Humber said: “The poor performance of the authority to ensure all young people receive a good quality education is very concerning.

"Urgent action must be taken so that pupils are given the opportunities they need to succeed and to improve their life chances.”

Councillor Brenda Thompson, Middlesbrough Council’s executive member for children’s services, said the Ofsted report was “disappointing”, but stressed that action was already being taken to improve local schools.

“In recent years, schools in Middlesbrough have achieved a steady increase in standards of attainment,” she added.