Press release

The importance of leadership in the education and skills system

Strong leadership at every level is critical if England wants to have a world class education and skills system.

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Launching his first Annual Report, Sir Michael Wilshaw said that leadership in schools, in colleges and in local authorities was key to driving up standards and ensuring all young people get the good education they deserve.

Today’s (27 November 2012) report is underpinned by the findings of nearly 25,000 inspections carried out during 2011/12 of early years and childcare, schools, colleges and adult learning and skills – providing a unique evidence base for the key conclusions.

The main conclusions in this year’s Annual Report are:

  • schools in England are getting better – although there is still a long way to go before the nation catches up with the best in the world
  • there are wide variations in the performance of schools across different local authority areas, leading to serious inequities for children in some parts of the country
  • Ofsted has identified major concerns with the quality of provision in the post-16 Learning and Skills sector, especially in colleges, which are not adequately preparing young people for the world of work

Alongside the Annual Report, Ofsted has today launched a new service called Data View, an online tool which allows open access to, and the comparison of, inspection findings about the performance of providers at national, regional, local authority and constituency level over time.

This year’s Annual Report comprises a main commentary by HM Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, supported by 3 remit reports giving more details on the early years, schools and learning and skills sectors. The social care annual report will be published in summer 2013 to tie into the inspection cycle in that sector.

The key findings underpinning the headline conclusions for schools are:

  • the proportion of schools rated as good or better is going up year on year. Three years ago 66% of all schools were judged to be good or better; that figure is now 70%. This means there are now nearly half a million more pupils in good or better schools
  • there are nearly 1,000 more outstanding schools than there were 3 years ago; there are nearly 1,000 fewer inadequate and satisfactory schools than 3 years ago
  • there are now 2,500 good and outstanding schools serving some of England’s most deprived communities

Sir Michael said that the upward trend in the performance of the schools system could be put down to better leadership and a slow improvement in the quality of teaching.

He said:

Heads are now in the driving seat in a way I could only have dreamed of 20 years ago. They now have more autonomy and more control over their resources than ever before.

A growing number of heads are also committed to improving schools beyond their own through cluster and federation arrangements.

Academies are also making a difference. Most of the sponsored academies that we have inspected are better than the poor quality schools they replaced.

Examples of the inequality of access to good or outstanding schools across different local authorities highlighted in the Annual Report include:

  • a child living in Derby or Doncaster has only half the chance of attending a good or better primary or secondary school compared with a child living in Wigan or Darlington
  • a parent in Coventry has only a 42% chance of sending their child to a good or better maintained primary school in the local authority area compared with a 92% chance for a parent living in the London Borough of Camden

Sir Michael said:

The inequities for local children are stark. This is completely unacceptable.

That’s why I intend, from January, to use Ofsted’s new regional structure to inquire further into areas that are performing badly. We need to find out what is happening, and inspect where necessary. We will also work with local areas to support them and help them link up with best practice.

The key findings underpinning the headline conclusions for learning and skills are:

  • while the overall effectiveness of all Learning and Skills providers has improved very slightly over the past 3 years, the proportion of colleges judged inadequate or satisfactory is the highest it has been in that period
  • 35% of colleges are now less than good compared to 30% at the end of 2010
  • Ofsted this year judged 13 colleges (serving over 82,000 leaners) to be inadequate compared with four colleges last year
  • for the second year running, Ofsted did not judge a single college to be outstanding for teaching and learning

Sir Michael said:

The further education sector is a real concern for me at a time when the nation needs skilled and qualified people entering the workforce more than ever before. It is vital that the sector responds with high quality provision designed to tackle the urgent issue of youth unemployment.

The government now needs to shine as much of a spotlight on this sector as it has done on schools. Schools have seen their increased freedoms balanced by a strong accountability system and action on failure. The same should be true for colleges.

The Annual Report also covers the provision of early years education. Ofsted’s National Director for Early Years, Susan Gregory, will be delivering a major lecture next week on these findings and will set out views on improving the sector.

The main findings in the early years report include:

  • 74% of provision is good or better compared with 65% three years ago
  • more than a third (34%) of children are not working securely in communication, language and literacy by the end of the Early Years Foundation Stage (below five years old)
  • overall, pre-schools and nurseries are better than child-minders at preparing children for the next stage
  • provision is weakest in areas of highest deprivation, particularly in the case of child-minders
  • the quality of early years provision would benefit from stronger links between strong and weak providers, including good schools and good children’s centres

Notes to editors

  1. The Annual Report 2011/12 is available online. You can also go to Data View. Today’s Annual Report 2011/12 includes Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Commentary, Schools report, Learning and skills report and Early years report. The sector report on social care will be published in summer 2013. This is because the inspection year for most social care provision, prescribed by regulations, runs from April to March. At the beginning of this year, Ofsted introduced a number of radical framework changes covering much of social care inspection activity. By publishing at a later date, Ofsted will be able to report on a full year’s inspection outcomes.
  2. 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 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.

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Published 27 November 2012