North education chief criticises Ofsted
A NORTH East education leader has criticised a report which reveals almost half the schools in the country inspected this academic year have been rated “satisfactory” or “inadequate”.
Last night, Dr John Dunford, a former head at Durham Johnston School in Durham City, described the changes made to the Ofsted inspection regime in September as unhelpful.
Yesterday, Ofsted published outcomes of inspections carried out during the autumn 2009 and spring 2010 terms.
At the start of the academic year, the official schools’ watchdog made the inspection criteria tougher and Dr Dunford warned then that schools would fall down the rankings.
Yesterday, schools minister Lord Hill said: “With almost half of schools inspected since September judged as only satisfactory or inadequate, it’s clear there is urgent need for real reform.”
But Dr Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), believes the findings are misleading and fears schools could suffer as a result.
“It must be made clear we are not comparing like with like when looking at inspection grades from this year and previous years,” he said.
“Ofsted has made no secret that it has raised the bar for schools being inspected under the new framework. It especially makes it more difficult for challenging schools to be graded well, even when the pupils are making good progress.
“The fact there are 3% fewer schools rated as outstanding does not mean school standards have fallen, but rather that Ofsted is using different criteria to judge those schools.
“Some schools will not be able to achieve an outstanding grade, regardless of how good they are, purely because of the criteria imposed.
“Schools now have to do even more to be rated outstanding. A school that was graded good in the previous framework could well be downgraded to satisfactory under the new one, even though it is offering a better quality of education.”
He added: “Of course we want schools to keep striving for higher standards, but it is not helpful to parents or schools when the basis for the grading system changes every four years.”
According to the data, nearly one in 10 schools nationally were declared inadequate in the autumn and spring terms and 47% of schools were judged to be either inadequate or satisfactory.