70% of schools in England are good or better according to Ofsted

Janet Downs's picture
Every year when Ofsted publishes its annual report there is much interest in the ‘state of the nation’s schools’. In 2010/11*, for the first time, Ofsted looked at the most recent inspection judgements for ALL schools open in England on 31 August 2011 to provide a more comprehensive picture about standards of English education.

Ofsted recognised that all schools would not have been judged on the same criteria because these have changed over years (and have since changed again). However, Ofsted said that all schools had been judged on the same four-point scale so it was possible to use these judgements to provide a representative picture.

Ofsted found that 70% of English schools were judged to be delivering a good or better standard of education. The breakdown of figures is:

1 20% of all schools were outstanding.

2 A further 50% were good.

3 28% per cent were satisfactory

4 2% were inadequate.

What about inspections which took place in 2010/11? Didn’t they show that standards in English schools are declining? No, is the short answer. Most of the schools inspected were those previously judged satisfactory of inadequate. Since September 2010 Ofsted only inspects previously outstanding schools if concerns are identified through the risk assessment process and inspects good schools once in a five-year cycle unless concerns are raised. This is what Ofsted found:

1 6% of schools inspected in 2010/11 were inadequate – down from 8% in 2009/10.

2 46% were satisfactory.

3 48% were good or better (remember, these were mainly schools which had previously been judged satisfactory or inadequate).

4 Schools are more likely to improve than decline between inspections (but, remember, most of them started from a lower base). 20% of previously inadequate schools had substantially improved and were good or outstanding.

5 20% of inspected schools declined. This included 40% of the few outstanding schools which were inspected – three previously outstanding schools plummeted to inadequate.

6 Teaching was good or outstanding in 60% of the inspected schools – a slight increase from 2009/10.

7 Only 3% of teaching was judged inadequate. 54% of teaching in secondary schools and 57% in primary schools was good or better.

8 76% of secondary schools and 64% of primary schools were good or better when judged on the extent to which the curriculum met the needs of the pupils. The curriculum was only judged inadequate in 1% of secondary and 2% of primary schools.

9 94% of parents who responded to questionnaires said they “strongly agreed” or “agreed” with the statement, “Overall, I am happy with my child’s experience at this school.”

This picture contradicts the relentless barrage of criticism aimed at English schools. Ofsted found that 70% of schools are good or better when it looked at all the latest inspection reports. That’s seven out of ten. One in five is outstanding.

And an overwhelming majority of parents in schools inspected in 2010/11 were happy with their child’s school.

*downloadable here

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Ricky-Tarr's picture
Thu, 24/05/2012 - 09:47

Some way to go then, with 30% of schools needing improvement just to qualify as 'good', which is the least people are entitled to expect.

This picture contradicts the relentless barrage of criticism aimed at English schools.

No, it explains it.

eJD8owE1's picture
Thu, 24/05/2012 - 11:33

This is playing semantics. "Good" and "Satisfactory" mean different things to different people, but there is no reason to assume --- other than it being the third point in a four point scale --- that there is anything unsatisfactory about being satisfactory. The problem is that it's unclear if satisfactory is being used as a euphemism (one notch above bad, that can't be OK) or literally (this is satisfactory, so it isn't unsatisfactory, so it's OK), and Ofsted themselves seem to move the goalposts every Wednesday.

Of course, all schools should aspire to excellence, and of course there should be a culture which does not make excuses for failure, but rather that tries to improve matters. And, in general, there is. Arguing the toss about labels doesn't help anyone.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Thu, 24/05/2012 - 14:22

In the rest of inspection and regulation there are only two categories:
Unsatisfactory - which means that a specific issue which needs to be address has been clearly identified.
and Not Unsatisfactory.

Hampton determined that categorising the quality of service substantially reduces the quality of those services and the quality of the inspection because:
1. Healthy diversity and innovation is stifled as organisations seek to tick the boxes of the pre-defined categories.
2. Inspectors are unable to perform their duty to report to the government regarding the state of the industry they regulate as organisations do not show them what they actually do - they show them what fits the pre-defined categories.

It would be considered unsatisfactory for an organisation not to be involved in continuous cycles of quality assurance, quality improvement and communication.

High quality provision is demonstrated through quality assurance marks.

This is how Ofsted would have to behave if they were obligated to the same laws as all our other regulators.

And the reason they don't behave in this way is?......
1. The directors aren't up to it.
2. They don't want to be accountable as that's a bit troublesome to them.
3. Politicians want to be able to use Ofsted to bash state schools in inappropriate directions for their own purposes.

Andrew Old's picture
Sat, 26/05/2012 - 05:45

The trouble is that plenty of "good", and even a few "outstanding", schools are terrible. The only real test is: would the inspectors send their own kids here?

If the answer's "no" (and it usually is) then it shouldn't be good enough for anybody's kids.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 27/05/2012 - 07:25

The trouble is that plenty of “good”, and even a few “outstanding”, schools are terrible.

A crucial criterion for the judgement seems to be the way the staff rate the head in the forms they have to fill in. Staff may all rate the head to be outstanding because they truly and the school is great but more and more they are all rating the head as being outstanding because either:
1. the head is an extreme bully and none of them would say boo to a goose
2. they don't fancy two years of brutalisation - watching the collapses and the suicides and the heart attacks, having to teach every single lesson to a fixed plan and so on.

So you've now got a lot of schools with extreme bully heads being very highly rated and they are not great schools at all. They just appear to be so to Ofsted.

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 27/05/2012 - 07:54

Whatever one's private feelings about Ofsted, the fact is that the Government uses Ofsted to judge schools. While the Government continues to use Ofsted's judgements, then it's important to remind the Government of what Ofsted actually says. Ofsted's own analysis of inspection reports for ALL Englishschools shows that 70% are good or outstanding, 28% satisfy the criteria and only 2% are judged inadequate.

Ofsted also identified the features found in improving schools. Ofsted found, like PWC before them, that improving schools use the same strategies irrespective of academy status. See thread below for more details.


Perhaps the most important opinion is that of parents - 94% of parents who responded to Ofsted questionnaires were satisfied with their child's school.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 27/05/2012 - 08:12

And conversely the schools where the teachers are still honestly describing reality and so give honest descriptions of the strengths and weaknesses of their leadership teams come as such a shock to inspectors that they are immediately dumped into a category of failure.

Special measures follows and continues until they are brutalised and broken into lying about the quality of the leadership which arrives which may well be far worse than what they had before.

Are you suggesting that these are private feelings and not reality Janet? If so why?

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 27/05/2012 - 08:14

Perhaps you haven't been at two union meetings this week and spent time chatting to very experienced staff who are going through the process of special measures?

But please contradict me if I'm wrong.

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 27/05/2012 - 08:43

Rebecca - as I said above, while the Government uses Ofsted as a measure to show English state education (except that colonised by academies and free schools) is failing, then it is important to remind the Government of what their preferred measure actually says. This includes reminding the Government and the new head of Ofsted that satisfactory as defined by Ofsted is "A satisfactory school is providing adequately for its pupils."

Only 2% of schools in England are inadequate and not providing an acceptable level of education according to the Government's preferred measure. The Government, then, should be praising schools in England and reassuring parents that 98% of schools provide an adequate or better standard of education. Instead, the Government and its supporters in the media constantly rubbish English state education.

Rebecca Hanson's picture
Sun, 27/05/2012 - 20:09

“A satisfactory school is providing adequately for its pupils.”
Is that a "good school" which is now classed as satisfactory? Of course a school which gives no cause for concern is now categorised as being unsatisfactory as satisfactory is the new unsatisfactory.

Of course if Ofsted were obliged to the same law as all other regulators and inspectors (as they are with public and private schools) all this behaviour would be absolutely illegal and their judgements would be restricted to categorising things as being unsatisfactory (cases for protection) if a specific pre-defined issue was identified and actions taken would have to be linked to and proportional to the issue identified. If this were the case then Ofsted judgements would actually be meaningful.

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 27/05/2012 - 08:58

Neither my personal feelings nor my personal experience are relevant here. If the Government uses Ofsted as a weapon then use the same weapon to fight back. At the same time, however, if Ofsted inspections are found wanting then schools should complain. In the case of Downhills school, for example, the school is resisting enforced academy conversion which the Government says is backed up by a hurriedly-arranged Ofsted inspection which suspiciously overturned a judgement made by Ofsted less than a term before.

Another example is the recent inspection of Caistor Yarborough School which is highlighted by Ofsted Watch. The school's management and governors are unhappy with Ofsted's conclusions and are filing complaints.


The NAHT is encouraging its members to complete a questionnaire, School View, to comment on the conduct of Ofsted inspections. Perhaps a similar survey could be mounted by unions representing classroom teachers so that they, too, can give their opinions.


Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 27/05/2012 - 09:02

Ofsted's annual report, as stated above, showed a high level of parental satisfaction with schools. Ofsted asks parents to complete a paper questionnaire during inspections and the results of these have been published in inspection reports. However, this summary is no longer required. A cynic might say that this retrograde step is to avoid the embarrassment of parents' views contradicting those of the inspectors.

Richard's picture
Sun, 21/10/2012 - 17:44

Ricky Tarr, go troll somewhere else

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