84% of outstanding schools inspected since September have been downgraded

Janet Downs's picture

Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman has again called for the outstanding school exemption to be lifted.   This follows the release of data which shows that 84% of outstanding schools inspected between September 2018 and 31 March were downgraded.

The inspections had been prompted by a fall in each school’s performance.  It was not surprising, then, that so many had failed, Ofsted said.

Losing the top grade does not mean schools became less than good.  54% of the downgraded schools dropped just one grade.  25% were rated to require improvement and 5% slumped to inadequate.

Primary schools were more likely to lose the top grade than secondary schools.

Although the figures aren’t ‘particularly surprising’, Spielman said ‘they should still set alarm bells ringing’.  Exemption from inspection leaves ‘real gaps in our knowledge about the quality of education and safeguarding’.   This was especially true when exempt schools hadn’t been inspected for over a decade: when inspectors return, ‘they sometimes find standards have significantly declined’.

If the outstanding judgement was to remain ‘a genuine beacon of excellence, the exemption should be lifted,’ Spielman said before calling for Ofsted to be ‘resourced to routinely inspect these schools.’

Slight drop in overall proportion of schools judged good or better

Today’s figures show the downward trend in the proportion of schools judged good or better at their most recent inspection is continuing.   The figure has dropped from 87% in August 2017 to 85% by the end of March 2019.   Primary schools, where 67% of schools remain in the stewardship of local authorities, are more likely to be good or better (87%) than the heavily academized secondary sector where 75% are good or outstanding.

Fewer ‘stuck’ schools

The number of ‘stuck’ schools, those which had never been good or better since September 2005, has fallen from 490 to 430. 

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