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

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