Ofsted strips three in four top-rated schools of 'outstanding' status
Ofsted strips three in four top-rated schools of ‘outstanding’ status in first round of inspections after exemption was removed by government last year
- Majority of ‘outstanding’ schools downgraded in first part of inspection shake-up
- Almost three-quarters stripped of top grading amid overhaul of Ofsted’s visits
- Sites not inspected for combined 235 years with top schools previously excused
- Initial findings give a glimpse into Ofsted’s crackdown on ‘outstanding’ schools
Ofsted has downgraded the majority of ‘outstanding’ schools in the first round of an inspection shake-up, a new analysis shows.
Almost three-quarters have been stripped of their top grading amid an overhaul of the education watchdog’s visits.
The sites had not been inspected for a combined 235 years as top schools were previously excused from regular checks.
Although a small sample of re-inspection reports have been published so far, the initial findings give a glimpse into Ofsted’s crackdown on ‘outstanding’ schools.
And it will raise fears that many schools may have been coasting for years on outdated gradings.
Ofsted has downgraded ‘outstanding’ schools in the first round of an inspection shake-up (file)
Top-rated schools are being routinely inspected this term for the first time since the government introduced exemptions in 2012, designed to allow Ofsted to focus on more frequent inspections at lower-performing schools.
All ‘outstanding’ schools last visited before 2015 will receive a full inspection, while those primaries and secondaries awarded the top grade since then will get short visits.
Schools Week analysed 23 Ofsted reports published on Thursday relating to previously ‘outstanding’ schools.
Of these, 19 were graded, section 5 full inspections. Four were shorter, section 8 inspections.
Seventeen schools (74 per cent) lost their ‘outstanding’ status, 12 fell to ‘good’ and five were rated ‘requires improvement’, according to Schools Week.
Ash Church of England Primary School in Martock, Somerset, was judged ‘requires improvement’ across the board. Its last full inspection was 15 years ago.
Ash Church of England Primary School in Martock, Somerset, was judged ‘requires improvement’ across the board. Its last full inspection was 15 years ago
Inspectors said that ‘to some extent, leaders’ plans for improvement have slowed because of the pandemic’. However, ‘lack of professional development for curriculum leaders has contributed to a weak curriculum’.
Some lessons are ‘not well organised’ and ‘do not build on what pupils already know’. Teachers’ expectations of what pupils can achieve ‘are too low’.
At Cove Infant School, Farnborough, Hampshire, which was last inspected in 2015, Ofsted criticised ‘weaknesses in the reading curriculum’ which ‘stifled’ pupils’ progress.
Inspectors said ‘too many pupils cannot read as well as they should’. The school was downgraded to ‘requires improvement’ after receiving the judgement in three categories, including ‘quality of education’.
Headteacher, Natasha Vass, told Schools Week the judgement was ‘disappointing’ but it has a robust school improvement plan to ‘turn around the outcome of the inspection relatively swiftly’.
At Cove Infant School, Farnborough, Hampshire, which was last inspected in 2015, Ofsted criticised ‘weaknesses in the reading curriculum’ which ‘stifled’ pupils’ progress
Meanwhile, of the four schools with a shorter visit, three kept their ‘outstanding’ grade.
But Ofsted found ‘the inspection grade might not be as high if a full inspection were carried out now’ at Hiltingbury Infant School in Eastleigh, Hampshire. It faces another check on standards by inspectors.
A further three re-inspection reports were published on Friday – two schools kept their ‘outstanding’ ratings while the third slipped to ‘good’.
Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector of education, recently said she expects the number of ‘outstanding’ schools to fall from 4,133 to roughly 2,000 following the new inspection regime.
Currently, around one in five English schools are rated ‘outstanding’, but Ms Spielman told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme that one in ten schools ‘might be a more realistic starting point for the system’.
Geoff Barton, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), yesterday insisted schools may see their ratings fall from outstanding to good ‘without there necessarily having been any decline in standards’.
Geoff Barton, of the Association of School and College Leaders, said schools may see ratings fall from outstanding to good ‘without there necessarily having been any decline in standards’
He said this ‘is not much comfort to the school inspected, and it is not an easy message to get across to parents and communities’.
But Professor Alan Smithers, director of the Centre for Education and Employment Research at Buckingham University, said: ‘Outstanding schools weren’t inspected previously to save money.
‘The recent re-inspections have shown that many have become complacent. Regular inspections are important to keep schools up to the mark.’
Schools rated ‘outstanding’ were previously let off re-inspections unless their results showed a serious dip or parents had complained.
In 2019, the National Audit Office found that 1,620 schools, mostly outstanding, had not been inspected for six years or more. Almost 300 had gone without an inspection for more than a decade.
Ash CofE and Cove Infant School have been contacted for comment.
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