Too many schools in Blackpool are inadequate and attempts by the council to improve standards have been insufficient, Ofsted has found.
Following a local authority school improvement inspection in December 2014, Ofsted has written to the council to advise it of the findings.
The school improvement inspection took place between 8 and 12 December 2014. During the inspection, discussions were held with senior and operational officers, elected members, headteachers, principals, governors, strategic partners and other stakeholders. Inspectors scrutinised the local authority’s arrangements for school improvement and took account of the feedback from school and academy leaders.
As it currently stands, only half of the secondary schools in Blackpool that have been inspected by Ofsted are good or better. This has created a situation where more than 2,500 secondary age students in the town are attending inadequate provision.
Pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds are also the ones most likely to lose out from these low standards. Less than three in ten disadvantaged pupils obtain five GCSEs, including English and mathematics, at grade C or above, putting Blackpool in the bottom three local authorities in England for attainment.
However, some positive attributes were found during the inspection, particularly in primary schools. Ofsted found pupils are developing well and that schools were helping them to reach the levels expected of their age.
New leadership has also led a renewed determination to improve the performance of the local authority. Although still in its early stages, the approach is helping to ensure standards improve in the town’s schools.
Commenting on the report, Ofsted’s Director for the North West, Jo Morgan, said:
It is extremely concerning that, despite being judged ‘ineffective’ in November 2013, so little progress has been made by the local authority to support school improvement.
A situation now exists in Blackpool where more than 2,500 secondary school students are being educated in provision that is not good enough. This has had a serious knock-on effect; too many students finish Year 11 without gaining five good GCSE qualifications, including English and mathematics.
Our evidence shows that the local authority’s school improvement strategy is not fit for purpose, with officers failing to quickly identify and tackle underperformance in the town’s schools. There has been a systematic failure to promote school-to-school support and senior leaders have not been held sufficiently to account.
Despite this, there are reasons to be optimistic for the future. New leadership acknowledges that things need to change. They are taking the first steps towards achieving better outcomes. Primary schools are continuing to prepare pupils well for their next steps. It is now vital that the council work with secondary schools to ensure that the good start these pupils receive does not go to waste.
Ofsted will continue to monitor Blackpool’s arrangements for school improvement in order to encourage greater progress in raising standards in the town’s schools.
Notes to editors
- Read the letter for Blackpool Borough Council online.
- The Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children’s social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.
- Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 03000 130 415 or via Ofsted’s enquiry line 0300 123 1231 between 8.30am and 6.00pm, Monday and Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057 359.