Press release

Ofsted scraps ‘satisfactory’ judgement to help improve education

Removing satisfactory judgement will help tackle coasting schools that have remained satisfactory over a number of inspections.

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Ahead of a government summit on ‘coasting schools’ to be held at Downing Street later today, Ofsted’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, has confirmed his intention to scrap the ‘satisfactory’ judgment for school inspections.

The move is designed to tackle the number of coasting schools that have remained stubbornly ‘satisfactory’ over a number of inspections, as highlighted in Ofsted’s Annual Reports over recent years. The proposals, which will be subject to consultation, would mean that any school that does not provide a good standard of education will be given a new “requires improvement’ grade.

No schools will be allowed to remain in the category of “requires improvement” for more than three years. Under the proposals, schools judged in this new category would be subject to earlier re-inspection, within 12-18 months, rather than up to three years as at the moment. Schools will be given up to two inspections within that three year period to demonstrate improvement. Any school failing to do so will then require special measures.

Speaking in advance of the meeting at No 10, Sir Michael Wilshaw HMCI, said:

We all know that parents want to send their child to a good school and fortunately, thanks to the hard work of teachers and school leaders around the country, many of them do. However, around a third of schools failed to meet this level at their last inspection.

There are too many coasting schools not providing an acceptable standard of education. Of particular concern are the 3,000 schools educating a million children that have been “satisfactory” two inspections in a row. This is not good enough. That is why I am determined to look again at the judgements we award, not only so we are accurately reporting what we see, but so that those schools that most need help are identified and can properly begin the process of improvement.

I make no apology for making even greater demands of an education system which has to respond with greater urgency to increasingly difficult and competitive economic circumstances. We will consult properly about the changes that we make but I am clear about our mission. It’s the same one I have been pursuing for many years as a head teacher: to help ensure our young people get an education that is really good or outstanding, whatever their background.

Sir Michael will draw on Ofsted’s evidence and his own experience to show that it is possible for all schools to be good or better. There are nearly 700 schools in England serving the most deprived 20% of students that were satisfactory at their previous inspection but are now good or outstanding. This is not simply a problem of deprivation. Some 300 stubbornly satisfactory schools currently serve the most affluent 20% of society.

Later this month Sir Michael will outline his full set of proposals for changes to school inspection including the details of the consultation process that will accompany those plans.

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Published 16 January 2012