Ofsted’s widespread downgrading of British schools


Hundreds of schools previously rated as “outstanding” have been downgraded by Ofsted following their first inspections in many years.

The general downgrading proves that leaving a school to its own devices does not make it better, according to Ofsted, but anger is growing among teachers over the “brutal” inspections.

Why were schools revisited?

During the last academic year, more than 500 schools were visited after a clause that made them exempt from frequent reinspection was lifted. Introduced by Michael Gove in 2012, the clause meant outstanding schools didn’t need regular visits unless there were specific concerns.

However, the exemption was lifted in 2020 after Ofsted warned that over a thousand schools had not been inspected in at least ten years, said Schools Week.

Amanda Spielman, Ofsted’s chief inspector, said it was “concerning that quite a significant number have been marked as needing improvement”, said the BBC. Of the 370 schools it inspected in 2021-22, 17% had gone from “outstanding” to “requires improvement”. The majority (62%) became “good”, while 4% are now rated “inadequate”. So only 17% of schools retained their outstanding rating.

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The exemption was “founded on the hope that high standards, once achieved, would never drop”, said Spielman and that “freedom from inspection might drive them even higher”. However, she added, the latest results “show that removing a school from scrutiny does not make it better”.

Why were so many downgraded?

In the first flurry of inspection reports last November, 74% of schools lost their outstanding status. At one primary school, inspectors noted that “leaders’ plans for improvement have slowed because of the pandemic” while an infant school was marked down due to weaknesses in the reading curriculum” which “stifled” pupils’ progress.

However, reported Schools Week, unions felt a “lack of understanding” from the watchdog has led to suspicions that primaries are dealt with “particularly harshly”. Smaller staff numbers in primaries and limited access to subject specialists create “disadvantages”, said leaders.

Some head teachers said Ofsted marked their schools down because their pupils were not making progress, “largely because the schools were so good to begin with”, said The Telegraph, while others have been re-designated for not having proper “safeguarding” policies.

What does this mean for Ofsted?

The news comes amid growing criticism of Ofsted. In April, Frank …read more

Source:: The Week – All news


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