Don’t be fooled by Ofsted outstanding schools report

Picture presented "plays fast and loose" with the facts, notes Kevin Courtney.

sutton grammar school children

The Department of Education’s recent report on “good” and “outstanding” schools is a sign that once again, the government is playing fast and loose with statistics.

These figures have no statistical significance, as I believe may have already been noted by the UK Statistical Authority.

As the government’s own report, the July 2019 Analysis of OfSTED Good and Outstanding Schools Ad-hoc Notice, notes, “the increase in the number of pupils in good or outstanding schools (including academies) has happened at the same time as pupil numbers have increased.

“Over the period January 2010 to January 2019 there was an increase of over 700,000 in the number of children in state schools in England”.

Furthermore, the wild claims made by secretary of state Damian Hinds that 80,000 “more” children are studying in “good” or “outstanding” sponsored academies since December 2017 simply don’t stack up as the official data does not compare like with like.

The analysis released today includes almost 250 more sponsored academies than in 2017, so it is no surprise that the number of pupils in sponsored academies rated “good” or “outstanding” has risen.

The number of pupils in sponsored academies rated “inadequate” or “requires improvement” has also risen.

Recent research in May for the Local Government Association has shown that schools that remain within the local authority are more likely to retain a good or outstanding rating from Ofsted than those that become academies.

This research found that 90% of the schools that stayed with their council, which means some 9,400, kept their “good” or “outstanding” grade, compared with the 2,275, or 81%, which became academies.

While, in addition, “good” schools that converted to academies were more likely to lose their strong Ofsted grade.

Only 59% or 723 of the schools which were judged as “requires improvement” or “inadequate” in 2014 and which converted to academies were “good” or better by 2019.

That’s compared with the 88% of schools, comprising some 2,048 schools, with the same grades but that remained with their local authority.

Kevin Courtney is joint general secretary of the National Education Union.

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6 Responses to “Don’t be fooled by Ofsted outstanding schools report”

  1. Alison

    Ofsted inspections are pointless

  2. Patrick Newman

    A recent Times report noted that outstanding schools easily lose their status when re-inspected as this is often several years after receiving the original high rating. Basing statistics on outstanding ratings can be very misleading. However that is not the point about academies – they are stage one of the privatisation of state secondary education. Stage two is fee-charging and a profit and loss account and it is just around the corner!

  3. Dave Roberts

    I’m not disagreeing with you I just wondered what your reasons are for making the statement.

  4. Richard Thompson

    Academies are absolutely nothing to do with privatisation, they are charities – it’s a large sector, get to know it. Meanwhile Kevin Courtney wants to return all schools to the dead hand of often incompetent and often capricious council control – this is NOT Labour Party policy.

  5. Tom Sacold

    I always considered Academies to be one of the more successful reforms of the Labour Government under Blair. They devolved responsibility down to those who have to deliver education and away from Local Authority bureaucrats and their dreadful ‘bog standard’ Comps.

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