Baseball Positions Are Starting To Lose Their Meaning

This means that individual defensive efforts are becoming less and less involved in the outcome of games. For example, the combined assists and putouts of shortstops have declined by 13 percent since 2007, from 21,495 in 2007 to a projected mark of around 19,000 this season. Second basemen saw 23,704 combined chances in 2007 compared with 21,057 last season. Center fielders caught 12,829 fly balls in 2007. They grabbed 11,437 last season.If there are fewer defensive chances available, teams can make the argument that it’s more valuable to chase runs, particularly in an era of launch angle, juiced balls and smaller stadiums.This season, 68 players have made “primary” position changes, playing the majority of their innings at a different position than they played last season. Thirty of those players graduated to more difficult defensive positions — both of those marks are five-year highs. Players who moved up the defensive spectrum include Manny Machado, who moved from third base to shortstop in Baltimore earlier this season and stayed at short when he was traded to Los Angeles last month. The Cubs at times dispatched Kris Bryant to center field in 2015, ’16 and ’17. The Reds experimented with moving their top prospect, Nick Senzel, from third to shortstop this spring. The Indians, whose pitchers set a record for strikeouts last season, played second baseman Jason Kipnis in center field at the end of the regular season and in the American League Division Series against the Yankees — Kipnis hadn’t played center regularly since he played at Arizona State.The Indians have also sent Lonnie Chisenhall and Brandon Guyer to center field over the past two years. “There are always trade-offs between offense and defense,” Bloom said. “When there are trade-offs, you try to take note of all those factors, including the environment, and make the best assessment you can.”The decline of balls being put in play is not the only leaguewide trend testing the traditional value and labels of defense. This era of specialization has required the erosion of primary positions.Individual pitchers are absorbing fewer innings. Roles are changing. They Rays introduced “the opener” earlier this season, a new label attached to a relief pitcher who starts a game but only appears for an inning or two. For several seasons, the Rays have rarely let their starting pitchers work through an opposing lineup three or more times. Only 15 pitchers reached 200 innings last season, which tied 2016 for the all-time low mark. More roster spots are being occupied by bullpen arms to absorb innings and seek favorable in-game matchups. Position-player roster spots are further stretched by the popularity of platoons.“You see teams using more platoons, defensive replacements late in games,” Kipnis said this spring. “You put in the offensive guy early, you get the lead … and he comes out for a better defensive player. It’s kind of the reverse of having a pinch-hitter come in late, basically.”The Cubs’ Ben Zobrist is the 21st-century poster child of defensive versatility. He wasn’t just a glove-first utility player asked to fill in around the diamond earlier in his career in Tampa Bay; he was a star-level bat who could play about anywhere on the field.“I think one of the things that made Ben so successful here was his willingness and selflessness to go do it and be an upper-echelon player,” Bloom said. “It set an example for a lot of guys in the league.”This season has seen a record number of Zobrists. Six players have appeared in at least one game this season at every position other than pitcher and catcher: Marwin Gonzalez, Enrique Hernandez, Yadiel Rivera, Sean Rodriguez, Andrew Romine and Hernan Perez.Last year, 25 players played at least 10 games in left, right and center field, an MLB record. The number of players to play at least 10 games at second, third and shortstop in a given season is on the rise, too, with a record 20 players doing so in 2016. The top 12 such seasons have all occurred since 2000. A record 27 players played at least 10 games at third and shortstop in 2016, and the 24 players to do so in 2017 tied for second all-time.Oakland infielder Jed Lowrie has played every infield position in his career and both second and third this season. “You are still going to want your elite defenders in the middle of the field,” he told FiveThirtyEight. “That’s where the majority of the action happens. But versatility allows a team to match up in more favorable ways.”Also warping the traditional idea of positions and labels is alignment.Defensive shifts have become a common part of the game and changed the meaning of what it is to play second base or shortstop. This trend began when the Brewers and Rays ushered regular infield shifts into the game in the early 2010s. When shortstops are routinely playing on the right side of second base and second basemen are sometimes playing shallow right field, they cease to become traditional shortstops and second basemen. And alignment has only become more extreme, creative and aggressive. In April, Seattle second baseman Robinson Cano began a pitch 221 feet away from home plate against Texas slugger Joey Gallo, which was the farthest back an infielder had aligned in the Statcast era, according to Daren Willman of Baseball Savant.2The average second baseman stands 151 feet from home plate.In 2015, MLB teams played four-man outfields on 17 occasions, according to Statcast data. There were nine instances of four-man outfields in 2016 and seven last season. This year? The number has jumped to 194. The Rockies, Cubs, Twins, Dodgers, Orioles, Mariners and Astros have all experimented with this tactic.There are limits to versatility and stretching labels. Russell Carleton found for Baseball Prospects earlier this month that the defensive spectrum might need rethinking, arguing that positions are skill-specific and that the penalty of moving some players to more challenging positions is greater. “Each position is its own box and the boxes are a lot less similar to each other than we might have thought,” Carleton wrote. Carleton found that over a 162-game season, sliding an “emergency” shortstop up the spectrum cost a club about 26 runs — more severe than the generally accepted penalty of 20 runs surrendered between position leaps on the spectrum.Certain positions require certain skills and physical traits. Second baseman and shortstops require quick and capable hands to turn double-plays and react to line drives and grounders hit in excess of 110 mph off the bat. To competently man the position, shortstops should be able to make a throw to first from the deep hole between shortstop and third. Still, given the right strikeout and ballpark environment, and with enough offensive production, moving certain players up the spectrum can add value.“I don’t think we’ll get to the point where those elite skill sets and athleticism won’t be prized,” Bloom said. “It think that’s always going to be something teams look for.”But where those players play, and what we label them, will likely continue to evolve. The game is changing more quickly than ever, and so are positions as teams attempt to adapt. Just as the Brewers brought defensive shifts to the NL earlier in the decade, they now have the game thinking about the nature of positions, labels and trade-offs once again.Check out our latest MLB predictions. On Aug. 3, shortly after being acquired by Milwaukee in a deadline deal from Baltimore, Jonathan Schoop found himself in an unusual position on the Miller Park infield. For just the third time in his six-year career, he was starting at shortstop. He wasn’t alone that day. His middle-infield teammate, Travis Shaw, was starting just his fourth game at second base — a position he had never played as a professional before this season.The Brewers had a surplus of corner bats entering the year, and they added even more at the trade deadline, bringing aboard third baseman Mike Moustakas from Kansas City. At this point, they have more starting-caliber infielders than positions available. This is all part of a grand Brewers experiment as they chase a playoff spot: Trade defense for offense and cram as much power into their infield as possible.In other major sports, positional labels have become less and less important, so why not baseball? In the NBA, centers and power forwards now routinely shoot threes, in part to increase their offensive efficiency. Defensive versatility, the ability to switch, is more and more valued. In the NFL, teams like the Patriots have valued positional versatility. And position labels are increasingly becoming irrelevant in professional baseball.“I do think you are seeing a greater willingness by teams to expand the definition of what’s possible and not be as bound by the way things have always been,” Chaim Bloom, the vice president of player development for the Tampa Bay Rays, told FiveThirtyEight.This is more feasible now in part because of the current baseball landscape. Strikeouts continue to climb: 22.1 percent of plate appearances this season have ended in a K, which would set a new record. Strikeouts are up half a percentage point over last season — equivalent to more than 800 balls taken out of play. Moreover, a record number of home runs were hit last season, and while while home run rates are down, 5,000-plus balls will be hit out of ballparks by the end of this year.Strikeouts and home runs are putting a considerable damper on the number of batted balls put in play, which were down 14.5 percent last season compared with 1980.1Adjusted for the number of teams in the majors. Since 1998, when the game expanded to 30 teams, there’s been an 8.8 percent decline, and the decline was 7.8 percent since 2008. The trend is expected to continue again this season. read more

Mens volleyball Ohio State rolls over Saint Francis in straight sets

Then-junior setter Christy Blough (5) sets the ball during a match against Ball State on Feb. 6, 2016.Credit: Courtesy of OSU AthleticsThe momentum kept rolling Friday night as the No. 1 Ohio State men’s volleyball team added another win to its current 29-game streak, this time at Saint Francis University. The Buckeyes won in straight sets 25-23, 25-18, 25-18.The win puts OSU at 6-0 on the season while Saint Francis falls to an even 3-3. The game marks the 30th win for the Buckeyes over the Red Flash in the teams’ 31-game history.OSU has now won 87 of the last 105 sets with a sweep over Saint Francis. The Buckeyes are within striking distance of matching the school record 32-game win streak that was set during OSU’s 24-0 run to end the 1969 season and the first eight games of the 1970 season.Senior opposite Miles Johnson led the Buckeyes in kills with 11, while junior outside hitter Maxime Hervoir had eight kills on 12 errorless attempts, notching a .667 hitting percentage.Senior opposite Jeff Hogan was the Red Flash’s team leader in kills with 13, but had 6 attacking on the night. Redshirt junior outside hitter Stephen Braswell followed Hogan in kills with seven of his own.Neith team in the first set accumulated much of a lead with a total of 15 ties. Eventually, OSU pulled away with kills from redshirt sophomore middle blocker Blake Lesson and junior outside hitter Nicolas Szerszen, as well as a combined block by Hervoir and Lesson, to seal the deal for the Buckeyes to win 25-23.The Buckeyes thoroughly dominated the second set with a couple timely runs. Five straight points put OSU up 10-5, then a six-point run built the lead to 24-15. Lesson’s kill closed the set at 25-18.After a seven-all start, OSU went on another six-point streak in the third set. The Buckeyes were nearly perfect in their attacking with only one hitting error, swinging at .560 percent. OSU’s offensive efforts were complimented by senior libero Gabriel Domecus’ match high six digs to help the Buckeyes win 25-18.Ohio State plays again Tuesday night in St. John Arena in a Big Ten clash against No. 15 Penn State at 7 p.m. read more

In case you missed it

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James earned his second-consecutive league MVP award Sunday, one night after his 35 points led the Cavs to a 101-93 victory over the Boston Celtics in the first game of their Eastern Conference semifinals series. James, who has a bone bruise and strain in his right elbow, took home 116 of the 123 possible first-place votes.Tiger Woods missed the cut at the Quail Hollow Championship, just the sixth time in his PGA Tour career that he failed to reach weekend play. Woods shot a 7-over 79 during the second round on Friday after firing a 74 in Thursday’s opening round. The 79 marked Woods’ second-worst round as a professional, as he missed the cut by eight strokes.Floyd Mayweather topped “Sugar” Shane Mosley in a unanimous 12-round decision Saturday night. Each of the three ringside judges had Mayweather winning every round after the second, when Mosley nearly knocked Mayweather to the ground. Two of the judges scored the fight 119-109 in favor of Mayweather, who remained undefeated in 41 fights. The third judge scored it 118-110. read more

What OSU football must do to win against Illinois on Saturday

Ohio State flirted with defeating a ranked opponent against Nebraska, but came up empty-handed after a late-game meltdown. Saturday, the Buckeyes will look to upset No. 16-ranked Illinois. Offense I was hesitant to jump on the Braxton Miller bandwagon, but consider my bags packed. Under Miller, the Buckeyes held a 27-6 lead in the third quarter. Offensive coordinator Jim Bollman was dialing up misdirections, play-action passes and seemed to get rid of the “run on first and second down, pass on third, punt and repeat” philosophy. When Miller’s injury forced Joe Bauserman back into the game, the offense ceased to exist. OSU needs a healthy Miller behind center to keep the defense honest. When defenses are preoccupied with Miller’s legs, passing plays and running lanes open. Daniel “Boom” Herron is back this week and Bollman would be wise to feed him the ball. The Buckeyes are 18-1 in games in which Herron has at least 55 yards rushing and 20-3 in games in which he scores a touchdown. Fickell said that Herron will likely be seen on special teams, but he needs to factor in the offense too. Defense The Buckeyes defense picked up where it left off against Michigan State – but only for two quarters. They held the No. 1-ranked rushing offense to just 37 yards and six points in the first half. But in the second half, when the team needed the defense the most, they fell apart allowing 195 rushing yards and 28 points. The defense needs to force turnovers as they did in crucial situations against Michigan State. The Buckeyes forced just one Nebraska turnover, an interception, and that came in the first half. Being on the road again, the Buckeyes will have to fight momentum and the crowd. The easiest way to stop momentum is with a turnover from the defense. Senior defensive end Nate Williams is out for the year, so someone on the defense must step up as a permanent pass-rushing threat. In the disastrous second half against Nebraska, the Buckeyes again went without a quarterback sack. Special teams Fittingly, junior punter Ben Buchanan continues to be the Buckeyes’ best player. He downed a punt inside Nebraska’s 10-yard line as well as pinning the Cornhuskers inside their own 20-yard line twice, including a 55-yard boot. They will need him to help control the field position battle. Drew Basil has been reliable this season, hitting 7-of-9 field goal attempts and leading the Buckeyes in scoring. If OSU has a chance to put three points on the board, they would be wise to take them. If special teams are where Herron makes his appearances Saturday, he needs to make the most of them and provide the team with a spark. As senior offensive tackle Mike Adams showed against Nebraska, this team feeds off of a confident senior player. Coaching The coaches must come up with an offensive gameplan that is operational with or without Miller. As effective as Miller was against Nebraska, the offense cannot depend solely on him. A freshman scrambler is going to get beat around, and if he has to come off the field, the offense must continue to attack. And, if Miller goes down again, the coaches should take a good hard look at third-string sophomore quarterback Kenny Guiton. The Bauserman experiment has been tried, and it has failed – miserably. The offense couldn’t be any less effective under Bauserman. read more

Ohio State mens volleyball takes weekend sweep in State College Pa

The No. 9-ranked Ohio State men’s volleyball team took home two wins this weekend after defeating California Baptist, 3-1, and Mount Olive, 3-0, in the Penn State Invitational, improving to 8-4 on the season. Some OSU players saw more action than normal in Saturday’s match against the Mount Olive Trojans. The team’s leading offensive players, senior opposite Shawn Sangrey, senior outside hitter Mik Berzins and junior outside hitter Chen Levitan, didn’t even enter the match. Junior outside hitter Nick Gibson recorded a match-high 14 kills, while redshirt freshman setter Peter Heinen tallied 23 assists for the Buckeyes. Redshirt junior middle blocker John Tholen had six blocks. This is the second time in two years that OSU has swept Mt. Olive, according to the athletic department’s team guide. OSU rode Friday’s momentum into the first set, and at 17-15, went on an eight-point drive. Four Trojan errors and kills by reshirt freshman middle blocker Shawn Herron and Tholen added to the victory, 25-16. Similarly, at 16-13 in the second set, the Buckeyes put up six straight points while holding the Trojans at 13. OSU took the set, 25-17. The third set was close with 12 tied scores. The Buckeyes maintained the lead for most of the set, but the score tied late in the match, 24-24, on an attack error by freshman outside hitter Michael Henchy. Tholen’s kill put his team at match point, and an error in their favor ended the weekend of play for OSU, 26-24. In Friday night’s performance, the Cal-Baptist Lancers came out strong and took the first set, 23-25. OSU gave up a six-point lead in the second set and the score tied at 24. Berzins and Levitan, delivered kills to end the set, 27-25. Levitan would seal the third set for OSU, 25-20, with two more kills and two Lancer errors. At 16-14 in the fourth and final set, OSU went on a four-point drive with a Sangrey kill, two blocks from Herron and a Lancer error. The Buckeyes ended the match on an attack by Levitan, who had 16 on the weekend. Sangrey posted a match-high 23 kills and Heinen led the team in assists with 55. The Buckeyes will travel to Fort Wayne, Ind., to take on the Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne Mastodons at 7 p.m. Friday. OSU returns home the following Friday to play Ball State at 7 p.m. The OSU men’s volleyball team, which is 65-33 against IPFW, could not be immediately reached for comment. read more

Opinion Exclusion of Landon Donovan puts Jurgen Klinsmann on the hot seat

US men’s soccer coach Jurgen Klinsmann waves to the fans after a game against Mexico Sept. 10 at Crew Stadium. The US won, 2-0.Credit: Shelby Lum / Photo editorThe United States Men’s National Team’s all-time leading scorer won’t be playing at the 2014 FIFA World Cup, but the story isn’t about Landon Donovan.The story is about USMNT coach Jurgen Klinsmann after he decided to leave the 32-year-old forward off his 23-man roster for Rio de Janeiro.By leaving him at home, Klinsmann has placed himself firmly on the hot seat – especially in the eyes of American fans.Donovan is not the player he used to be, nobody can argue with that, but he is still more than just a shell of his former self. While he may not have the same pace and goal scoring ability as he had in the past, Donovan has played in three World Cups and could bring much needed leadership and poise to a young squad.The facts are simple; Donovan wasn’t one of the best 23 in Klinsmann’s eyes, and the coach better hope he’s right. The U.S. is set to take on a tough group that many are dubbing the “group of death.” Germany is a talented and deep team, Portugal boasts Cristiano Ronaldo among other stars and Ghana has always had the USMNT’s number.Before releasing his roster, nobody would have blamed Klinsmann if his team didn’t make it out of the group stage. Now, after making the most polarizing decision possible – save cutting captain Clint Dempsey or Everton goalie Tim Howard – the former Germany boss has increased the pressure on himself to astronomic levels.Even though Donovan was not going to be a starter for every game, there is nobody who would have been upset to see him on the team. With Donovan at home, fans have a reason to hate Klinsmann for the first time since he took over the squad in 2011.Overall Klinsmann has been wildly successful as the U.S. coach. He led the team to a 12-game winning streak – an all-time best for the USMNT. The U.S. qualified for the World Cup in spectacular fashion and boasts possibly its most talented roster of all time.Yet nobody will be talking about young stars such as Bayern Munich’s Julian Green or AZ Alkmaar striker Aron Jóhannsson. The chatter won’t even be about Dempsey, Howard or Sunderland’s Jozy Altidore. By excluding Donovan, Klinsmann took all the spotlight away from the players who will be in Brazil and put it firmly on the one who won’t.This is a make-or-break tournament for the U.S. If the team can make it out of the group stage, the talent is validated. If they don’t – especially without Donovan – it will be a failure, no matter how unfair that may be considering the draw.Regardless of Klinsmann’s contract extension that is set to keep him with the team until 2018, if this 23-man squad doesn’t deliver, he will be in a pile of trouble with the fans and, quite possibly, his bosses.Donovan’s exclusion is now an excuse to band together against the coach, while his inclusion would have had absolutely no negative implications.Klinsmann claims the players he chose are just ahead of Donovan’s current ability, but I can’t imagine 31-year-old forward Chris Wondolowski – he of just 19 international appearances – will do any better than Donovan could.I certainly hope the coach ends up looking like a genius by making it out of the group, and he should be hoping the same.By ditching Donovan, Klinsmann has placed the target firmly on his own back. read more

Ohio State womens hockey coaches Nate Handrahan Keith Maurice resign

Former OSU women’s hockey coach Nate Handrahan.Credit: Lantern TVAfter just four seasons, Ohio State women’s hockey coach Nate Handrahan and one of his assistants has resigned.An OSU spokesman confirmed the resignation in an email to The Lantern Wednesday afternoon, as well as the resignation of Keith Maurice, who joined the program in May 2013.The spokesman did not provide a reason for the resignations.The OSU women’s hockey team went 67-64-15 in four seasons under Handrahan, including a 17-16-3 mark this season.In the 2012-2013 season, the Buckeyes posted a 19-win season, the second most in team history.Handrahan was just the second head coach in the 15-year history of the program. read more

Mens basketball Ohio Crossroads Classic still a few years away but progress

Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann addresses the media prior to leading a team practice on Oct. 4, 2017 at the Schottenstein Center. Credit: Jacob Myers | Managing Editor for ContentOhio State men’s basketball head coach Chris Holtmann has not been a coach in the state of Ohio for even six months and he’s already trying to make plans for the state’s future in college basketball.Holtmann has twice previously broached the subject of introducing a Crossroads Classic-type event to the state of Ohio.Three years before Holtmann was promoted to head coach at Butler, former Purdue athletic director Morgan Burke helped create the Crossroads Classic, an event in Indianapolis between four of the state’s basketball powerhouses: Butler, Purdue, Indiana and Notre Dame.While Holtmann said the event is still “at best case scenario … a few years away from being the reality,” he said he’s made progress talking with the three other schools — Cincinnati, Xavier and Dayton — about the possibility.“I think the first thing is someone takes the idea and runs with it, and then kind of spearheads it and kind of pushes it,” Holtmann said Wednesday in a sit-down interview with The Lantern. “But there’s a lot that has to be done. You have to have obviously four schools that feel like it’s in their best interest and have an interest in doing it and we’re trying to broach that subject with them, but we’re just in the very early stages of those kind of conversations.”LANTERN EXCLUSIVE: OSU men’s basketball head coach @ChrisHoltmann speaks about the potential for a Crossroads Classic event for Ohio. pic.twitter.com/xIZTmN5oU7— Lantern TV (@LanternTV) October 26, 2017In Holtmann’s first year as head coach at Butler, his Bulldogs were ranked No. 23 when they were upset by Indiana on Dec. 20, 2014. Holtmann said that victory by the Hoosiers proved to be a signature win on the Hoosiers’ resume and that it helped propel them to an NCAA tournament berth. The following two seasons, his team was the underdog to No. 9 Purdue in 2015 when the Bulldogs were No. 17, and then again in 2016 to No. 9 Indiana when Butler was No. 18. They won both matches.Even as a ranked team, Butler was always considered an underdog against the other Power Five teams that were in the event.Now at Ohio State, the script would be flipped. The Buckeyes are the flagship school in Ohio, and would be considered the program to beat.Holtmann said whether favorite or underdog, powerhouse or up-and-comer, an all-Ohio event will provide value to any team that comes away with a win. “I think the reality is you have other programs in the state that have been really high-achieving programs,” Holtmann said. “I get why we haven’t played some of those schools in the past, but I also recognize that, I think perhaps if those programs were really struggling programs that wouldn’t be as beneficial for us. I don’t think that’d be in Ohio State’s best interest, but they’re programs that have had success and makes it mutually beneficial.”But before the idea behind the event can become a reality, there are several remaining obstacles left to hurdle for Holtmann.Big Ten teams currently have 18 conference games in their schedule, but a recent change in scheduling will now force teams to have 20 games against Big Ten opponents, leaving only 11 vacancies in the schedule for out-of-conference opponents. There is also the matter of clearing the notion with the other schools involved and figuring out who will play whom.“I think maybe in some ways a fan base may think, ‘Hey, just you can get it together, it’s great for everybody,’” Holtmann said. “But it’s a little more involved than that in the dates, and now we have an increased Big Ten schedule, which is a challenge in terms of finding nonconference games.”There will be plenty of incentive for all teams to get something like this scheduled.The Crossroads Classic drew plenty of excitement among the four programs’ fan bases. Over the past two seasons, Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis was filled beyond its listed capacity of 17,923 with 18,684 fans in 2016 and 19,156 in 2015. Last year, the event featured four ranked teams for the first time in Crossroads Classic history.Holtmann believes if the four aforementioned Ohio teams are able to work out a similar event, the same success will happen in the Buckeye state. “It’s great for the fans. It’s exciting for the fans,” Holtmann said. “It engages them in a way that that time of year when you’re thinking maybe about other things, you have NFL and you have college football, which are great, but it engages them on a Saturday that’s different than obviously conference play.” read more

More than half of declining schools kept or improved their Ofsted rating

first_imgMore than half of schools retained or improved their Ofsted rating despite declining academic performance, a new report has revealed.According to analysis of pupil progress figures, 1,221 primary schools and 228 secondary schools had “deteriorating substantially” since their last inspection by the schools’ watchdog.  But despite this decline, 962 primaries and 152 secondaries received the same Ofsted rating or higher upon re-inspection.Furthermore, 47 per cent of declining primaries and 33 per cent of declining secondaries actually improved their Ofsted ratings, in spite of the decline in academic progress made by pupils.The research, by the Education Policy Institute (EPI), looked at the value added between key stages 1 and 2 (ages seven and 11) for primary schools and between key stages 2 and 4 (ages 11 and 16) for secondary schools.Schools were identified as “deteriorating substantially” if they declined by at least 15 percentiles per year. The EPI identified 64 ‘outstanding’ primary schools and 47 ‘good’ secondary schools which had declined since their last inspection. Of those schools, a third of primaries retained their outstanding rating, while half of the secondaries were not downgraded.The report raises concerns over the reliability of the schools’ inspectorate and whether ratings are fairly given for all schools, particularly those with challenging intakes.Schools with more poor pupils less likely to be judged ‘outstanding’Figures highlighted by the EPI suggest that schools with more disadvantaged pupils are less likely to be judged ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ than schools in affluent areas.Only 14 per cent of schools with the most disadvantaged students – schools with at least 23 per cent of pupils on free school meals – are ‘outstanding’, compared with 48 per cent of schools with 5 per cent of pupils on free school meals.David Laws, executive chairman of the EPI  and former Lib Dem schools minister said the report raised “important questions” over improvements to the system. Report author Jo Hutchinson, said: “Our research suggests that the Ofsted inspection system may not be fully fair and equitable to schools with challenging intakes.”While there are potential explanations for lower overall rating of some schools with challenging intakes, including higher rates of teacher turnover and fewer experienced teachers, when we benchmark the distribution of Ofsted judgments against the value-added progress of pupils, some of the outcomes we observe are not explained by levels of academic performance in the lead-up to the inspection.”In particular, our analysis suggests there may be too many ‘outstanding’ judgments for schools with very low levels of deprivation and for schools with very few pupils with low prior attainment.”‘Ofsted inspectors look beyond raw attainment’Commenting on the report, a spokesperson from Ofsted said inspectors looked beyond raw attainment when making judgments.”All children deserve access to the highest standards of education. We should never make excuses for schools that are underperforming, even in challenging circumstances.””Inspectors do look beyond raw attainment when making their judgements. Indeed, under Sir Michael Wilshaw we have increasingly focused on the progress children make from their different starting points.”As a result, inspectors do mark down coasting schools in leafy suburbs where we see pupils not making as much progress as they should. “Ofsted judgements do not always seem to pick up sharp declines in a school’s academic performance,” he said, “we need to understand why this is, and whether some schools are being rated fairly or not.”Secondly, there is a very strong link between Ofsted’s ratings and how many disadvantaged pupils are attending the school. Schools with low numbers of children on free school meals are much more likely to get an outstanding rating from Ofsted. But when we look at the school value-added data, this pattern of rating results simply does not look to be justified.”He continued: “We need to ensure that the Ofsted rating fully reflects the work that school leaders and teachers are doing – otherwise we may deter the best teachers and leaders from teaching in our most challenging schools.”  Ofsted judgements do not always seem to pick up sharp declines in a school’s academic performanceDavid Laws ‘Schools with low numbers of children on free school meals are more likely to get an outstanding rating from Ofsted’Credit:PA children in class  “Inspectors use their professional judgement to look at performance over time, the progress being made by pupils currently in a school and the effectiveness of leadership and management.  That means we would not automatically mark down a school for a “sudden decline” in a single performance measure in a single year, as this report seems to suggest we should, if other evidence shows a school remains good or outstanding overall.    “It is also important to note that our inspection methodology, including the frequency of inspection, has changed significantly over the 10 year period covered by this report.”However, teaching unions called the report “deeply worrying”.Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) called on Ofsted to “address its apparent failure to spot the decline in academic performance in schools that have previously been rated good or outstanding.””There is no excuse not to treat schools fairly,” she said. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings. Inspectors do mark down coasting schools in leafy suburbs where we see pupils not making as much progress as they shouldOfsted spokespersonlast_img read more

Emma Bridgewater Pottery tycoon says UK skills crisis fuelled by university courses

first_imgHer colourful crockery has become a staple in households across middle England and she has been been dubbed “the first lady of British homeware”.As one of the biggest ceramics manufacturers to be based entirely in the UK, Emma Bridgewater has become a champion for British industry and an advocate for the need to inspire future generations of leaders in manufacturing.But the pottery tycoon has warned that the country’s skills crisis is being fuelled by universities designing courses geared towards attracting overseas students, while vocational courses are drying up. Pottery worker Lisa Cooke demonstrates sponge decoration to British Prime Minister Theresa May and Stoke Central by-election candidate Jack Brereton, as they escorted by Emma Bridgewater (R) during a tour of the Emma Bridgewater pottery factory in Hanley “What I’ve heard my children’s contemporaries talk about is that courses are not really being tailored for them, they are increasingly tailored to foreign students. I think we are responding to foreign students queuing up to get a British education.” Pottery worker Lisa Cooke demonstrates sponge decoration to British Prime Minister Theresa May and Stoke Central by-election candidate Jack Brereton, as they escorted by Emma Bridgewater during a tour of the Emma Bridgewater pottery factory in HanleyCredit:Reuters Trainee Jenna Barcroft, at the Emma Bridgewater pottery factory, Stoke-on-Trent  The Duchess of Cambridge speaks to ceramics manufacturer Emma Bridgewater Mrs Bridgewater, 51, said she is “not interested in protectionism”, adding:  “It is an amazing signal that people are flocking to train here, to learn here.But alongside it what are we doing for our own future? What is our plan for our own manufacturing sector? How are we going to get the innovation and energy we need?”She warned that the Government has not thought about the consequences of “turning its back” on the manufacturing sector, adding: “I think there is a massive snobbery and a group forgetting about where we have come from.” This week the Chancellor unveiled his plans for the biggest overhaul of post-16 education in 70 years with a multibillion pound drive to improve vocational training.Philip Hammond announced that the Government will put technical education on an equal footing with academic studies with the introduction of “T-levels”,  the technical version of A-levels, funded by more than £500 million a year. But Mrs Bridgewater, who has been held up by the Prime Minister as an example of how British business will thrive in a post-Brexit world, said that enthusing young people about manufacturing must start much earlier than when they are 16.She warned that as a country, we are “signally failing” to education children about the importance of factories and industry.center_img The Duchess of Cambridge speaks to ceramics manufacturer Emma Bridgewater Rather than developing courses that train up the next generation of leaders in manufacturing, universities and colleges are focused on attracting foreign students who are “queuing up to get a British education”, she said. “A lot of vocational courses around manufacturing are evaporating – we are not training to future captains of industry,” she told The Telegraph.“There’s a very significant lack of the right courses being devised. “I think that education is responding enormously for appetite among foreign students to come here. Foreign students outnumber [British students], particularly at arts schools in London. Trainee Jenna Barcroft, at the Emma Bridgewater pottery factory, Stoke-on-Trent Credit:Martin Pope “We need a generation of children interested in engineering and manufacturing,” she said. “It feels to me that children, as part of their education, should all get to look at what a manufacturing, recycling, landfill site looks like.”Mrs Bridgewater, whose factory in Stoke-on-Trent regularly welcomes children for tours, said that more teachers should take their classes on school trips to local factories.“A factory is one of the most positive things and hugely inspiring. You instinctively think of a factory as a dark, dirty oppressive place,” she said.“Not so! It’s a collective process. Everyone of all ages is struck by the good nature, the collaboration. Children come out smiling and asking question. We need children to be enthused about engineering and we are signally failing in that.”She said that in schools and universities there is an “absolute blankness and a sense that what I’m doing is so irrelevant. We need to sort out what we do about practical education. We’ve lost track of how to envisage and project practical careers.” Mrs Bridgewater,  who is also the president of the Campaign to Protect Rural England, set up her ceramics manufacturing business with her husband 1985 after she failed to find a suitable birthday present for her mother. Her cheerful designs are thought to be a personal favourite of Theresa May, who gave out her mugs to Cabinet ministers for Christmas presents.This week it emerged that design and technology GCSE has disappeared from nearly half of schools, according to a survey of head teachers.A poll found that hundreds of schools across the country have axed the subject from the curriculum in the past year alone. “As an employer, all you long for is for people to have a broad education, the idea that they haven’t done some making, some crafts, as well as the academic subjects is sad and it does reduce their usefulness in many ways,” MrsBridgewater said.  Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.last_img read more