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Ofsted annual report 2011: schools minister Nick Gibb responds

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Schools Minister Nick Gibb welcomed the Ofsted report 2010 to 2011 and said the government's education reforms would address areas of concern.

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Schools Minister Nick Gibb today welcomed the broad findings of Raising Ambition and Tackling Failure - The Annual Report of Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills 2010/11.

However, he warned that it highlighted significant areas of concern in the school system and said the Government’s reform programme, white paper and Education Act 2011 would address them.

Commenting on the main education findings:

On academies

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:

Ofsted is clear that the best academies are transforming education standards with strong leadership, teaching and ethos. There is growing evidence that academies are successfully weakening the link between poor education and deprivation. That is why we continue to target the academy programme at underperforming and failing schools, with the Pupil Premium providing extra money for schools with children from the poorest homes.

Our long-term ambition is for academies to be the norm in the school system. Teachers and heads should control schools and have more power over how they are run day-to-day. academies succeed because they have the freedom and power to set their own direction.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and other international evidence is clear that school autonomy is the key driver of higher education standards. Academies’ GCSE results are rising consistently far faster than the rest of the school system, often from a low starting point and in challenging circumstances.

On coasting / underperforming / declining schools

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:

There are still far too many underperforming schools making painfully slow improvements. It is worrying that Ofsted finds that 800 schools are stuck steadfastly at a satisfactory rating in inspection after inspection. It’s a real concern that some schools with very able intakes are merely coasting instead of making sure students achieve their full potential. And outstanding or good schools cannot afford to take their foot off the pedal simply because they have had a strong inspection result.

Our reforms are designed to raise standards across the board - by freeing up teachers to get on with the day-to-day job in the classroom but making sure there is stronger, clearer accountability to the public.

No school can ever afford to rest on its laurels or be complacent. Pupils’ time at school is short so they suffer if heads don’t strive to drive up standards year after year. We will not let mediocre performance continue unchecked and we are clear that there will be no hiding place for schools that are not making the progress they should. The Prime Minister has been clear in recent weeks that we will shine a light on schools which are content to muddle through.

We’re bringing in a tough new inspection regime from January targeted at the weakest performing schools; those that are making slow or no progress; and those at risk of falling back, while taking a lighter touch for high performing schools. We’ve overhauling league tables and bringing in fairer, tougher new standards - so schools are not just measured on raw results but also on the progress pupils of different ability levels make. The Education Act gives ministers clear new powers to step in where schools are merely treading water.

On behaviour

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:

Behaviour is still not good enough nationally, particularly in secondary schools and in the most deprived areas. We’re bringing in new powers to restore the authority of teachers; transforming the quality of alternative provision for the worst behaved pupils; and strengthening up sanctions to deal with persistent absentees. We know that poor discipline is forcing good staff out of the profession - an issue our reforms will get a grip on the issue.

Ofsted is right to draw a critical link between weak teaching and poor behaviour. It’s common sense that where teaching doesn’t engage pupils - they can lose attention and disrupt the class. That is why we are raising teaching standards and making sure the new inspection regime focuses explicitly on schools where children switch off because classes are not good enough.

On teaching quality

Schools Minister Nick Gibb said:

Effective teaching is central to determining whether or not a pupil succeeds at school. The new streamlined inspection regime will focus far more time on classroom observation and assessing teaching quality, instead of inspectors having to look at too wide range of issues.

We have set out clear plans to raise teaching quality across the board. We’re recruiting the brightest and best into the profession with bursaries up to £20,000 to attract top-class science, maths and languages graduates. We’ve strengthened entry requirements - only funding training places for graduates with a 2:2 or better and are stopping unlimited re-sits of basic numeracy and literacy tests. We’ve set up the first 100 Teaching Schools to drive up quality of initial teacher training and their ongoing career development. We’ve overhauled teacher standards so now there is a sharper focus on the key elements of teaching, including subject knowledge. We’ve set up a £2 million scholarship programme for existing teachers, backed up by stronger continuous professional development.

 Background

On 13 September 2011 Education Secretary Michael Gove said in his speech to the National College:

It is a worry to me that so many schools that are still judged as ‘outstanding’ overall when they have not achieved an outstanding in ‘teaching and learning.’ I intend to ask the new Chief Inspector to look at this issue and report back to me with recommendations.

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Published 22 November 2011