Press release

Doncaster Council's support for its schools is ineffective

Ofsted finds that the local authority's systems for collecting and analysing school data are not fit for purpose.

There is a pressing need to improve Doncaster Council’s support for schools, Ofsted said today.

Ofsted inspected the local authority’s arrangements for supporting primary and secondary schools because more than half of pupils in the borough attend a school that is inadequate or requires improvement. The area is in the bottom fifth of local authorities across England in terms of exam results.It was as a consequence of these problems that Ofsted went in to see how the local authority was supporting the 124 schools in the area.

Ofsted inspectors met councillors, senior local authority officials, governors and school leaders. They looked at the local authority’s plans to improve education and analysed pupils’ exam results.

Having considered these carefully Ofsted finds that Doncaster Council’s systems for collecting and analysing schools’ performance data are not fit for purpose. Ofsted also finds that the local authority school improvement service does not keep formal records of how well governors are managing and supporting schools. Moreover, it does not use its powers to intervene in failing schools in a consistent way. It is for these reasons and others that Ofsted today finds that the local authority’s school improvement support is ineffective.

More positively, Ofsted finds that the local authority has worked well to reduce pupil exclusions, while some headteachers said that there had been an improvement in the way good and outstanding schools help those that are not giving their pupils a good or better education.

Nick Hudson, Ofsted Director for North-East, Yorkshire and Humber, said:

We have undertaken a thorough inspection of Doncaster Council’s arrangements for supporting schools and found that they are ineffective.

A local authority needs to have a grip on data about how its pupils are doing. That Doncaster’s systems for analysing school data are not fit for purpose is a matter for concern.

Pupils in Doncaster do not get a good deal compared to other children and young people elsewhere in the region or in England. More than half of pupils in Doncaster are in schools that are either inadequate or require improvement. They and their parents deserve better.

To solve any problem you must identify it first. So I believe that this report is a significant step towards better education for pupils in Doncaster. We have set forward a clear way by which Doncaster Council can do better for its young people, and give them a better start in life.

I know there are some good schools in Doncaster and many people are working hard to rectify the problems. But pupils have yet to benefit from their intentions. Before next summer we will check on what progress has been made.

Ofsted says that the local authority must:

  • intervene early when schools show signs of failing their pupils by, for example, replacing senior staff and governors
  • improve the way it collects data about pupils’ exam results, and use that data properly
  • encourage schools to work together to share how best to improve teaching quality in the area
  • tell the Department for Education promptly if academies are failing

Inspectors will go back in within a year.

The report is on Doncaster’s page.

Notes to Editors:

  1. Of the 124 schools in Doncaster, 92 are maintained (local authority-run) and 32 are academies.

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