More pupils at ‘inadequate’ schools


Published: Wednesday 10th December 2014 by The News Editor

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Tens of thousands more teenagers are now attending failing state secondary schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw is warning, raising concerns that standards are stagnating.

The proportion of secondaries rated as inadequate has risen in the last 12 months, with over 50 more schools now in special measures than there were a year ago, according to the Ofsted boss.

In his third annual report, published today, Sir Michael says while primary schools in England continue to forge ahead, the rate of improvement in secondary education is grinding to a halt, with the overall proportion rated good or outstanding remaining the same as last year.

In total, there are now around 170,000 pupils at secondary schools rated inadequate – the lowest Ofsted rating available. This is up by 70,000 children compared to two years ago.

The report also reveals wide differences across the country in pupils’ chances of attending a decent secondary school.

In about a third of local authority areas, less than 70% of state secondary schools are considered to be good or better, while in 13 areas, children have a less than 50% chance of being educated at a good or outstanding secondary.

Speaking at an event to mark the launch of the report, Sir Michael is expected to say that primaries continue to improve because school leaders are focusing on the basics, such as the quality of teaching, behaviour and communicating with parents and the local community.

Schools that are failing often do so because they have not got the “essentials” right, the chief inspector suggests, and suffer from issues such as “indifferent” teaching and poor behaviour.

Sir Michael will also use his speech to suggest that the debate over the structures of schools – such as whether they should be under local authority control or not, is “yesterday’s argument” and that almost all schools now have more freedom over how they are run.

“Where schools are failing, it is not because they are local authority schools or academies, or because they are part of a multi academy trust or because they stand alone,” he says.

“They are failing because they haven’t got the essentials right: governance and oversight is weak, leadership is poor, misbehaviour goes unchallenged and teaching is indifferent.

“If our education system is to continue to progress we need to concentrate on the basics of why schools and colleges fail and why they succeed.”

Figures published by Ofsted earlier this month showed that 29% of state secondaries were rated as less than good as of the end of August, compared to 18% of primaries.

A total of 147 secondary schools were in special measures at the end of August, compared to 91 at the start of the last full academic year in September 2013.

There have been major overhauls of Ofsted inspections in recent years, with more focus on schools rated as “requires improvement” or “inadequate”.

In a recent speech to headteachers in Norfolk, Sir Michael said that in his last annual report, he had been able to point to “unmistakeable” signs that England’s education system was improving, with more schools getting to “good” at a faster rate than at any other time in Ofsted’s history.

But he added: “Since then, we have seen primary schools continue on their impressive upward trajectory, although there are some worrying signs that overall standards in our secondary schools are stagnating – in terms of both inspection judgments and, it would seem, examination results.”

Published: Wednesday 10th December 2014 by The News Editor

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