Briefing on OFSTED annual report

Please find below our summary of some key points for schools from the OFSTED annual report (published today). The full report can be found here: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/annualreport1213

The key findings include:

  • 78% of schools and academies are now judged to be good or outstanding (the highest percentage since OFSTED began).
  • There has been a large increase in the number of good and outstanding schools in the primary sector ( 485,000 more primary school pupils and 188,000 more secondary school pupils attend a good or better school compared with a year ago).
  • The improving profile of inspection grades represents better teaching and more effective leadership, particularly at senior and middle leadership level.
  • In less effective schools, there remain weaknesses in teaching and leadership. In these schools, OFSTED highlight a particular trend of weakness in the teaching of maths and English, and also the prevalence of low-level misbehaviour.
  • The ‘Requires Improvement” judgment is said to have provided a catalyst for improvement in those schools receiving this judgment. Through its inspections and follow-up inspections, OSFTED concludes that “over 90% of all schools requiring improvement were found to be making satisfactory progress in remedying weaknesses.”
  • Nearly a quarter of a million pupils still attend 583 inadequate schools in England. Although many schools have moved out of category, others continue to take their place.
  • Three  key challenges remain to raising standards further:

–  mediocre teaching and weak leadership in a minority of schools

– pockets of weak educational provision in parts of the country

–  significant underachievement of children from low-income families, particularly White children.

Teaching

  • OSFTED has judged teaching overall to be good or outstanding in 65 per cent of schools (compared to 62% last year).
  • More English and mathematics lessons were judged as being less than good than in many other parts of the curriculum
  • Much of the weakest teaching in schools was concentrated in the lower attaining sets and in the younger age groups, in both primary and secondary schools
  • Sir Michael Wilshaw has called on the government to consider a return to “more formal external testing of children at the end of Key Stage 1 to make sure every child at this formative age is making the necessary progress.”
  • Poorer quality teaching is more likely to be found in areas of greater deprivation.
  • The report includes a key steer on some key misconceptions about what constitutes good teaching (p.15): “Inspectors  do not expect to see a particular teaching style, but senior and middle leaders in schools too often mistake a ‘busy’ lesson for a good one, or adopt an approach to planning, teaching or observing lessons that is overly bureaucratic.”

Leadership (including leadership of teaching)

  • The most successful leaders created a  culture for improvement “that fostered open and constructive challenge” with teachers encouraged “to be honest about the areas they needed to improve”. These leaders “sought views on their own performance, modelling the behaviour they wanted to see”.
  • Their teachers were “motivated to improve because pay, other rewards and promotion were linked to the quality of teaching….(and)      staff had access to relevant and high quality continuing professional development.”
  • High performing leaders:

–  Were visible in classrooms.

–  Were themselves a source of advice and inspiration for others and ensured a high degree of consistency in teaching

–  Fostered a shared focus on behaviour, “with everyone in the school…. trained to have the same high standards and to challenge pupils to do better.”

–  Had effective administration systems in place in order to manage the day to day administration and free themselves up to focus on the leadership of teaching.

–  Had governors who supported them to focus “on teaching, and on the progress made by pupils, rather than on the day-to-day”

Academies

  • Sponsor-led academies are showing strong initial evidence of achieving significant improvements at above the national average.
  • Some ‘Multi-Academy Trusts’ now oversee more schools than some local authorities. The most effective trusts are achieving comprehensive improvements in previously underperforming schools and academies, however some MATs are performing less strongly.
  • From January 2014, OSFTED will coordinate the inspection of the constituent schools in some weaker multi-academy trusts and report in detail on their findings.
  •  “Too few” new converter academies are using their status to raise standards further
  • OFSTED will undertake to assess the impact of conversion to academy status on school performance within the next year.

Tackling Underperformance

  • Poor White Children have: have the lowest attainment compared with poor children from any other ethnic group. In too many schools, poverty of expectation for these children is leading to stubbornly low outcomes that show little sign of improvement. But economic disadvantage does not have to lead to low attainment. Poor children from other ethnic minority groups do better than poor children from White low-income backgrounds; in some  cases they do better than the national level for all children.
  • Schools that are narrowing the gap are making the most of pupil premium funding. In these cases it is “is tailored to the specific needs of individual pupils, usually through one-to-one support or by enabling pupils to participate in a wider range of enrichment and      external activities.” Stronger schools are also much more likely to be evaluating the impact of these interventions on pupil outcomes.
  • Too few SEN pupils make sufficient gains in progress once provided with additional support. “Inconsistencies in the moderation of teacher assessment of pupils’ work, discontinuity between P levels and National Curriculum levels, and scarcity of information for      many of these pupils at the end of Key Stage 4, mean that many schools struggle to set appropriately challenging academic targets or check on pupil progress.”
  • Ofsted will take a number of actions in 2013/14 to strengthen the inspection of special schools including: “

–  introduce new quality assurance visits to ensure the rigour of special school inspections

–  work with our inspection service providers to deliver further training, aimed at improving the rigour of inspection

–  review how Ofsted holds local authorities to account for their duties in relation to special educational needs

–  work with the Department for Education to develop appropriate arrangements for the lowest attaining pupils, as part of the national developments in assessment and accountability measures.”

Leading Improvement across the system

  • Concerns have been raised about whether “there is sufficient monitoring of or intervention in, declining schools across the system.” Where intervention has taken place, in many cases it has been deficient.
  • HMI report the following characteristics in failing schools:

–    “governing bodies failed to challenge a well-established incumbent headteacher until it was too late

–  low aspirations arising from a lack of understanding of how good other schools were, and a failure to understand that ‘the world had moved on’

–   headteachers who failed, for various reasons, to develop their middle and senior leaders

schools that were unable to handle the transition to new leadership, either because governors had no plan or because there was too little depth in leadership.”

  • Although numbers of National and Local Leaders of Education are increasing, their distribution and quality are uneven, with some large counties only three or four designated leaders. The supply of Teaching Schools does not also seem to meet demand in places. “the strategy of setting up teaching schools on the basis of individual applications may be limiting its national or local impact.”

 

  • Sir Michael Wilshaw has said that “the new National College for Teaching and Leadership must ensure that teachers and leaders were provided with the necessary incentives to move to the parts of the country with the greatest need for high quality staff.”

 

Please Note: Forum Education Limited updates are intended to help colleagues keep up to date with national developments. Information is correct at time of writing and is offered in good faith. No liability is accepted for decisions made on the basis of the information given. Briefings are not intended to be exhaustive and some developments will not be included. Whilst we take due care to ensure weblinks are to reputable sites, we cannot be responsible for the content of external websites.

 

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