Inadequate schools shame of Cabinet Ministers’ seats

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One in four schools in the constituencies of the Cabinet are not good enough.

Some 301 primaries and secondaries in the areas represented by 27 ministers were judged either satisfactory or inadequate at their last Ofsted inspection, according to an analysis of Ofsted data.

Among the Shadow Cabinet, just over a third (35 per cent) of state schools fell into the two lower categories – a total of 294 primaries and secondaries out of 818.

In Prime Minister David Cameron’s constituency, Witney in Oxfordshire, three primaries have been judged as failing.

In Labour leader Ed Miliband’s Doncaster North constituency, two primaries and one secondary school were declared inadequate at their last inspection.

The findings are taken from the inspectorate’s new Dataview website, which shows, as of the end of August, the performance of primary and secondary schools in each constituency in England.

Overall, in the constituencies represented by 27 ministers who are part of the Cabinet, or attend Cabinet, 27 per cent – 301 schools – of the 1,113 primaries and secondaries are rated as either satisfactory or inadequate.

In those of the 24 members of the Shadow Cabinet, 35.9 per cent – 294 schools out of 818 – were given one of the two ratings.

In the Cabinet, a total of 12 ministers have constituencies containing primary schools deemed to be inadequate, while secondary schools were given the rating in five MPs’ constituencies.

Foreign Secretary William Hague’s Richmond seat was the worst offender for primary schools, with four deemed inadequate. Other Cabinet ministers with inadequate primaries included Chancellor George Osborne, Home Secretary Theresa May and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Education Secretary Michael Gove’s Surrey Heath constituency escaped unscathed, with no primaries or secondaries deemed inadequate.

Of the 24 Shadow Cabinet Members, 14 had primaries that were gauged inadequate, while four had inadequate secondaries in their constituencies.

The worst was Jon Trickett, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, whose West Yorkshire constituency of Hemsworth had three inadequate primary schools and one inadequate secondary school.

Other Shadow Ministers with failing schools included Shadow Deputy Prime Minister Harriet Harman, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, Shadow Communities Secretary Hilary Benn and Labour Party deputy chair Tom Watson.

These figures only include ministers or shadow ministers with constituencies in England.

New rules on inspections came into force in September, which saw the “satisfactory” rating used by inspectors scrapped and replaced with “requires improvement”.

Schools judged to require improvement at two consecutive inspections and which are still not providing a good education at the third are likely to be placed in special measures.

Those schools considered satisfactory at the end of August this year will be given a clean slate and reinspected by the end of the 2013/14 academic year.

But those already rated “inadequate” and given a notice to improve will be considered to have “serious weaknesses”.

The move has caused upset among headteachers’ unions as it is likely to leave more schools in special measures.

Ofsted insists that the changes will raise the bar on school standards.

In October, Education Secretary Michael Gove announced he would write to MPs in areas of “concentrated educational under-performance” asking if they are “open to reform, to opportunity, to improvement”.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the NAHT, said: “Comparisons of large groups of schools by area are clumsy, because every area has strengths and weaknesses.

“There is a real danger in careless rhetoric tarring every school with the same brush. Each school should be assessed on its own merits.

“This is one reason why Mr Gove’s letters to MPs in areas he claimed were failing were less than helpful - each of those areas has many good and outstanding schools who felt unfairly penalised.”