News story

More academies than ever rated as outstanding

The Ofsted annual report shows a record number of academies rated 'outstanding' while 'inadequate' ratings across the schools sector doubled.

The 2010 Ofsted annual report published today shows that while generally across the schools sector the number of inspections this year resulting in an inadequate rating has doubled, academies have bucked the trend using their freedoms to raise standards across the board with more than ever being rated as outstanding.

Commenting on the report, Education Secretary Michael Gove, said:

This report shows us the real picture of our schools revealed by the new, more rigorous inspection regime. A worrying 576 schools, up from 360 last year, are either in special measures or have been given a notice to improve, with the number rated as inadequate in the last year twice as high as the year before. Even taking into account the new inspection system, this is simply unacceptable. No parent wants to send their child to a failing school and they shouldn’t have to.

There are also concerns in safeguarding, children’s homes and fostering. Whilst the vast majority of professionals in this area do an incredible job in very difficult circumstances delivering high-quality care, there are some areas that can be improved. The Munro review will look at child protection to help professionals get the support they need so that they are able to spend more time with children and families and less time on paperwork.

The report shows that solid leadership, high-quality teaching, freedoms over the curriculum and strong governance all add up to high standards and rapid improvements. Academy schools which have these freedoms have bucked the national trend and have seen an increase in the numbers getting the top Ofsted rating despite the new tougher inspections. That’s why our White Paper this week will outline further plans to make these freedoms a reality in as many schools as possible.

There has been a marked improvement in children’s services inspected and the best foster homes, children’s centres and social workers are turning around the life chances of some of society’s most disadvantaged and vulnerable people. There is a lot we can learn from and I’m determined that we will free up both the education and the children’s sectors so that professionals can learn from the best, adapting delivery to their local needs rather than having to follow a set system dictated from Whitehall.

Key points on academies in the report include:

  • Academies are bucking the trend with 26 per cent being rated outstanding compared to 13 per cent of secondary schools nationally.
  • The percentage of academies judged outstanding has increased since last year and the percentage judged inadequate has decreased despite the more demanding inspection framework. This is the opposite trend when compared with all schools.
  • Academies are continuing to achieve big year-on-year above-national-average increases in their GCSEs, including English and mathematics results, which highlights the excellent progress they are making.

Commenting on the quality of teaching, Michael Gove said:

The biggest factor in raising standards in schools is the quality of its teachers. The best education systems in the world consistently draw their teachers from the top tier of graduates by academic ability and select them carefully to ensure they are taking only those people who combine the right personal and intellectual qualities.

There is consensus amongst the highest performing countries that the most important thing we can do for teachers is train them well and then throughout their professional career. Too much teacher training involves either teachers being told how to comply with government criteria, or what John Bangs called quite rightly ‘death by PowerPoint’.

Teachers need to learn from other teachers. I have been impressed by arguments that the way to ensure we have good continual professional development is by getting teachers to observe superb practitioners of the craft and to learn from them. Today’s Ofsted report is a ringing endorsement of this, highlighting how schools with outstanding teaching frequently have senior school staff monitoring lessons which allows others to learn from the best teachers. That’s why our White Paper tomorrow will outline plans to give schools more flexibility to do this by removing restrictions on the time heads and other senior staff are allowed to monitor lessons.

But this has to start right from the outset with initial teacher training, and the Ofsted report is also clear that teachers need more practical classroom training to back up their theoretical training. Our White Paper will also outline plans to ensure trainee teachers spend more time in hands-on learning in the classroom.

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