A REPORT looking into the way primary education is delivered in Thurrock has shown schools are “more optimistic” with the leadership of Thurrock Council than in the past despite a number of areas that still need improvement.

Education watchdog Ofsted today published its findings following its visit to the borough in February where seven schools were inspected, six of which were primaries.

The Gateway Free School in Tilbury and Arthur Bugler in Stanford-le-Hope were both rated as “good”.

It was the Gateway’s first inspection since opening in 2012, whilst Arthur Bugler was up on its previous inspection.

However Stifford Clays, East Tilbury and Holy Cross and Somers Heath in South Ockendon were all rated as “require improvement”.

Ockendon Academy was the only secondary school inspected. It was downgraded from an “outstanding” to a “good” school.

Nine other schools were also surveyed over the phone as part of the report.

The report said it was “encouraging” seeing two schools improve, but “disappointing” that two had declined.

It added that the three other schools were providing an education that “is not yet good enough”.

The aim of the blitz from Ofsted was to see how well the council understood the strengths and weaknesses of the schools and what measures are in place to support and challenge them.

Ofsted’s concerns came about after Thurrock was ranked in the bottom three nationally for the second year in a row when it comes to being able to offer pupils a “good” or “outstanding” education.

Strengths highlighted by the report showed that most head teachers and governing bodies are more optimistic about the leadership from the council than in the past and that data on school achievement, its evaluation and reports are of a high quality.

It also said that the strategies used to appoint senior leaders is effective and that the council is generally successful in maintaining productive partnerships with academies and free schools.

However, it said there were a number of areas that still need improvement.

It said past weaknesses by the council, including vision and communication, remain a cause for dissatisfaction for some schools.

Also highlighted were opportunities for support being missed by schools because the council aren’t making them aware of it, and that personnel changes at the council leaves schools unsure who to when they need help.

Council leader and portfolio holder for education John Kent was pleased with the report and was even more confident now of Thurrock’s educational future.

He said: “When you read the letter you see how Ofsted have recognised how far we have come in the last year.

“I am now even more confident about our future relationship with schools and where education in Thurrock is going. The ‘history’ is behind us and we are now all working and looking forward towards the same aim.

“We know we’re not there yet, but we are heading in the right direction and it’s pleasing to know that Ofsted agree with that.”