The focused inspections are part of a concerted programme of action by Ofsted to establish why children in some parts of the country have a much lower chance of attending a good or better school than their peers in other similar areas.
17 schools were inspected during the focused inspection period 14 – 24 October. The schools were all due for inspection by the end of this academic year and selected to encompass a range of school.
During the inspections, Ofsted also gathered information on the use, quality and impact of local authority support for school improvement by asking three additional key questions of headteachers and governors.
On 17 January 2013, Ofsted announced the first wave of focused school inspections across local authority areas, where children are being denied the standard of education they deserve. The press release is available online.
Local authority areas were selected for the focused school inspection programme on the basis of the relative proportion of children attending good or better primary schools, as set out in the last Ofsted Annual Report, and Ofsted data on the proportion of children attending good or better secondary schools, as well as any relevant inspection evidence gathered during the autumn 2012 term. These are standard section 5 inspections, which were scheduled to take place this academic year and include all types of schools – although the majority will be primary schools.
In 2012, only 61% of children on FSM in Northumberland achieved Level 4 in English and maths at Key Stage 2, compared to 82% of their non-FSM peers in the authority. Nationally and within the North East region, 66% of children on FSM achieve this grade.Ofsted’s latest data from 31 August 2013 shows that 37% of secondary schools in Northumberland - which include middle deemed secondary - were judged less than good at their last inspection, compared with 27% across England. This means over 8, 000 children in the county are going to a secondary school that is not yet good.