Yorkshire has lowest level of good schools in the country

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PARENTS in Yorkshire are less likely to be able to send their child to a good school than those anywhere else in the country, according to damning new figures.

Tables from the watchdog Ofsted show that more than a quarter of schools in the region have been judged to be in the bottom two inspection categories.

The figures show 26 per cent of schools in the region are less than good. This is five per cent higher than the national average and more than ten per cent higher than in London.

Ofsted can place schools in one of four categories: outstanding, good, requires improvement or inadequate. Before September 2012 the third category was satisfactory but Ofsted have changed this to “requires improvement” amid fears that the satisfactory judgement had led to coasting schools and underperformance. Now all schools are expected to be rated at least good.

Chris McGovern of the Campaign for Real Education said: “These figures show a serious problem. There is no reason for Yorkshire to be lagging behind the rest of the country - especially when you consider that the country is lagging behind much of Europe and Europe is lagging behind parts of East Asia.”

Although the figures show Yorkshire has fewer good schools than the rest of the country they also show the situation is improving. At the start of the 2012/13 academic year there were around a third of schools rated less than good in Yorkshire - 34 per cent. More than 550 schools in Yorkshire were in the bottom two Ofsted categories at the end of last year according to the new figures.

This was just over a quarter of all schools in the region.

There were 67 schools - three per cent of the total - judged to be inadequate and another 491 in the category above - which Ofsted now classes as schools “requiring improvement.”

The figures show 1,264 schools in Yorkshire - 58 per cent - were rated as good and 347 - 16 per cent - were given the top grade of outstanding.

The data from the inspection watchdog show the ratings of all 2,169 schools in Yorkshire as of December 31 last year.

It shows major variations in parents chances of sending their child to a good school across Yorkshire and even in the same authority areas.

Barnsley is said to have both the highest level of outstanding schools - 27 per cent - and the highest level of inadequate ones - eight per cent.

Of the 15 education authorities in the region only two, Calderdale and Leeds, have more schools that are good or better than the national average.

Nationally the proportion of schools judged “good” or “outstanding” by Ofsted has risen to a record high, with 79 per cent of inspections resulting in the top two grades - five per cent higher than in Yorkshire. They cover the latest Ofsted verdicts on all 21,944 state schools in England.

London is the highest performing area with 86 per cent of schools judged good or better,

The figures make grim reading for parts of South Yorkshire. Barnsley has the region’s highest number of failing schools at eight per cent followed by Rotherham where the figure is seven per cent.

Parents in Doncaster are least likely to be able to send their child to a good school with 39 per cent in the bottom two categories.

Four per cent of schools in the town were rated as inadequate and another 35 per cent were in the category above.

Calderdale and the East Riding were the only two areas where no schools were rated as inadequate at the end of 2013. However this has now changed with a school in the East Riding, Goole High School Academy of Excellence placed in special measures last month. The school warned at the time that it was the latest victim of a “brutal inspection regime.”

New figures have also come out showing Ofsted received more than 1,400 complaints about its inspections and visits last year.

But one headteachers’ union said the number of schools unhappy with the inspectorate’s work is likely to be much higher, as many are afraid to complain for fear of the consequences.

Russell Hobby, the general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers said there were concerns about the “variable” quality of inspections.

Headteachers believe that if they complain, they will be reinspected under a harsher regime,” he said. “There’s a lot of concern about that.”

Mr Hobby also claimed that school leaders did not have confidence in the complaints process as those firms responsible for conducting the inspections are often responsible for the first stage of complaints.

“The start of the complaint process is not independent, those that conducted the inspection conduct the complaint,” he said.

An independent complaints process would be the first step in improving the system, Mr Hobby suggested, as well as improving the quality of inspection teams

An Ofsted spokesman said: “Our inspections are tough and challenging but also fair. The proportion of complaints Ofsted has received from schools has stayed broadly the same in recent years, despite the fact that we have set the bar higher for them.

“We take every complaint seriously and undertake thorough investigations. We have no evidence to support the view that schools are reluctant to complain to Ofsted in case it affects their rating. We meet regularly with the NAHT where they have the opportunity to raise any concern with us on behalf of their members who have undergone inspection.

“Through Ofsted’s regional structure and dedicated training programmes, we are focusing more than ever before on making sure our inspections are well-led and the judgements are secure. More than half of all school inspections now have a serving leader on the team and a growing number are being led by National Leaders of Education.”

Hundreds of schools rated as not good enough