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Authorities seeing stars in ratings.

Local education authorities around the North-East are today celebrating good performances in the annual star ratings.

North Tyneside recorded the region's best score, improving on its performance last year to join Durham on the top rating of three stars.

Gateshead remained at the upper second level, while Newcastle, Northumberland and Sunderland all remained at the lower second level.

But there was bad news for South Tyneside, which slipped from upper to lower second after a rise in the number of schools causing concern and a drop in the number of 16 and 17-year-olds staying in education.

Schools bosses in South Tyneside said the drop in rating was in part down to out- of-date information, and that the area was improving in most areas.

North Tyneside's education director Gill Alexander said: "We're absolutely delighted about it, very proud to have achieved a three-star rating.

"We know that we have an excellent education service in North Tyneside and it's nice to have external recognition for that. The thing that marks North Tyneside out from the other places I've worked is the real teamwork between schools and the LEA.

"Everyone is pulling together in delivering the best for the children and that's being seen in exam results."

Keith Mitchell, education director in County Durham, said: "Naturally we're delighted to retain our three-star rating and even more pleased because it's a stronger rating than last year.

"Part of our success is due to a continuing improvement in exam results, but a lot is to do with the excellent working relationship and spirit of partnership that exists between the county council and its schools."

South Tyneside's executive director of education Barbara Hughes said: "We are confident that our rating would be a lot better if it was based on up-to-date information.

"However, 10 of the 22 scores that make up our rating are, in fact, based on the findings of our most recent Ofsted inspection in 2002. Unfortunately, they do not take into account the vast improvements we have made since then. Of the remaining 12 scores, four improved, three stayed the same and only five have gone down ( one of which related to Schools Causing Concern.

"At the time the scores were compiled, one of our 10 secondary schools was in special measures. This statistic has had a detrimental affect on our overall rating but it is no longer accurate.

"I am delighted to say that the school in question, King George V Comprehensive, has been withdrawn from special measures ahead of schedule and has enjoyed a rapid rise up the Government's league tables."

School Standards Minister and South Shields MP David Miliband said: "These results show that education star ratings are continuing to encourage LEAs to drive up performance.

"I am pleased to see that more authorities than ever before are achieving the best possible rating and applaud those who are working so hard in schools and local authorities to ensure that all of our young people have the opportunity to do their very best."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:Dec 16, 2004
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