Schoolzone blog: Ofsted: accentuate the positive (please)

Ofsted: accentuate the positive (please)
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11 Dec 2014

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If you work in a secondary school in one of these areas, the chances are that your school is less than good, according to Ofsted.

East Riding of Yorkshire
St. Helens
Isle of Wight

In these areas, less than 50% of secondary schools are good or outstanding.

Here's the list of areas where less than 50% of primary schools are below good:


Yes, it's blank. Primary schools are impoving more quickly than secondaries and now, it seems, the differences are becoming very obvious.

This appears to be related, in part at least, to the difficulties in recruiting good secondary heads: 23% of secondary schools have weak leadership compared with 16% of primary schools, according to Ofsted's annual report, out today. However, it also highlights the fact that these low-performing areas "often also serve disproportionately high numbers of pupils from poorer backgrounds". Yet more evidence that Pupil Premium funding is not having the desired effect. it goes on: "the achievement gap between economically disadvantaged children and their peers is not closing quickly enough in secondary schools."

The report seems largely to be a treatise on how much better primaries are doing than secondaries, often praising the success of the former at the expense of the latter, for example: "successful primary headteachers ...blah blah .... In contrast, less successful secondary schools are struggling ... etc.

While it's good news for primaries and not for secondaries, it seems churlish and irrelevant to compare the two because they are very different.

Scan your eye down the eight key points in the report summaries and you'll get a very negative picture of school improvement. Six of the eight focus on where things are poor. So here are the two more positive ones:

  • The best schools focus on high-quality teaching.
  • The right school culture is critical for improvement

Not negative, but rather bland.

Yesterday we speculated about whether Ofsted was inspecting the right things and wondered whether schools had moved on, while Ofsted hasn't. But we might also ask whether Ofsted needs to adopt a more supportive stance in its reporting. Could we have more of what makes good quality teaching and what creates the right school culture, please?




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