Ofsted chief says region’s schools will close gap on rest of country

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OFSTED’s director for Yorkshire believes that the performance of its primary and secondary schools - which currently lag behind the rest of the country - will have improved in this year’s tests and exams.

Yorkshire has the lowest level of secondary school pupils achieving the benchmark of five good GCSEs, including English and maths, and the worst performance in primary school tests.

It also has the country’s lowest proportion of schools rated good or outstanding by Ofsted.

However Nick Hudson, Ofsted’s regional director, said he was “cautiously optimistic” that things were getting better but admitted there were still some challenges to overcome.

He told The Yorkshire Post that he expected to see signs of improvement later this year when the results from GCSEs and key stage two standard assessment tests sat by 11-year-old pupils announced.

After last summer’s GCSEs Yorkshire was confirmed to have returned to the bottom of a league table for the percentage of pupils achieving at least five good grades, including English and maths.

In 2013 it had improved with better results than the North East and the East Midlands as 59.2 per cent of pupils achieving the benchmark. However last summer saw results dip to 53 per cent making the grade meaning Yorkshire was once again the worst performing of any of the Government regions of England.

Ofsted’s own regional report in December last year into Yorkshire also warned that the it had fewer schools it considered to be good than anywhere else in the country.

And the most recent figures published last month confirm this is still the case.

Almost a quarter of Yorkshire and North East schools were rated less than good by the end of March this year. Nationally there were 18 per cent of schools rated less than good or outstanding. In Yorkshire and the North East - which Ofsted classes as one region - this figure was 23 per cent.

Of the 2,151 schools inspected (356) were found to be outstanding, 60 per cent (1,300) were rated as good, 20 per cent (437) were found to require improvement and three per cent (58) were rated as inadequate.

Last year’s exam slump was partly blamed on exam reforms which saw only pupils first attempt at a GCSE count towards league tables.

Mr Hudson said: “I am cautiously optimistic that we will see results get better when GCSE results and primary school tests are announced later this year.

“That is not to say that there are not still serious challenges to overcome.”

Mr Hudson and Ofsted inspectors have been working closely with councils across Yorkshire on a school improvement programme. The Pathfinder initiative has seen groups of more than 20 schools rated as requiring improvement working together in order to improve.

A second wave of schools is now taking part in the scheme which has been organised by the 15 education authorities in the region working together.

Mr Hudson said; “We have been working closely with this project and are encouraging them to continue but this on its own will not be enough to provide the step change needed by schools in Yorkshire because the numbers taking part are too small.”