Press release

Wakefield council's school improvement arrangements 'ineffective'

Ofsted has published the outcome letter of its inspection of Wakefield council’s support for school improvement and finds it ineffective.

The inspection of Wakefield council was conducted by Her Majesty’s Inspectors on 18 to 22 November 2013. The inspection was carried out because of concerns about the achievement and progress of pupils in primary and secondary schools and the quality of education and training for young people aged 16 to 18 years. In addition, the proportion of schools in the district judged to be good or better at their last inspection is well-below the national averages and not improving rapidly enough, especially for primary schools.

Ofsted found despite the relatively high number of school improvement officers in Wakefield, arrangements to support improvement lack coherence and partnerships with a range of providers lack effective coordination. As a result, Wakefield and its partners cannot demonstrate how much improvement has been achieved, or whether the considerable investment has provided value for money.

The local authority school improvement framework, which took effect in June 2013, enables Ofsted for the first time to inspect the school improvement functions of any local authority where there are concerns that the statutory duty to improve school standards is not being met. This may include areas where the performance of schools has declined.

Nick Hudson, Ofsted’s Regional Director for the North East and Yorkshire and Humber said:

Wakefield and its partners have some clear areas of strength, including examples of effective school-to-school support and reducing the proportion of young people who are not in education, employment or training.

However, the achievement of children at primary and secondary school is well below the national average – and the gap is widening as performance is not improving rapidly enough.

The achievement gap between children from poor backgrounds and their peers in the district is also a concern as it remains too great, particularly for children at the Early Years Foundation Stage and at the end of primary school.

We will be closely monitoring the council’s support work for schools to ensure that improvements are made quickly so that all children will receive a good education.

Local authorities inspected under the local authority school improvement framework will be required to respond with a written statement setting out what action it proposes to take in light of the report of inspectors’ findings and setting out a timetable for those actions. The local authority must publish the letter report and action plan.

Where there is evidence that the local authority is not exercising its functions effectively, or does not have adequate capacity to support schools and other providers to improve, the inspection findings will be reported this to the Secretary of State and Ofsted may arrange for a further inspection.

The report is on Wakefield’s page on Ofsted’s reports website.

Notes to editors

  1. Nick Hudson, Regional Director for North East and Yorkshire and Humber will be available for interviews on Monday 6 January 2014. Please call Ofsted’s Press Office for interview requests.

  2. The framework for the inspection of local authority arrangements for supporting school improvement is online.

Inspections under the new local authority school improvement framework will not be universal and Ofsted will inspect only where there are concerns about performance or where requested to do so by the Secretary of State. Local authorities will receive up to five days’ notice of an inspection.

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