Watchdog bares its teeth at ‘coasting’ schools

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron
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MORE than 300 coasting Yorkshire primaries and secondaries could find themselves in the firing line unless they improve as Ofsted launches a crackdown on schools which consistently fail to deliver a good education.

New figures show there are 331 schools across the region which have had two consecutive “satisfactory” inspection reports – a rating which is no longer considered good enough by the education watchdog.

Ofsted has warned today that almost 300,000 pupils are attending what it describes as “poor performing” schools in the region.

The statistics obtained by the Yorkshire Post also reveal pockets of wealthy areas in this region where thousands of children are being served by coasting schools.

Of the 331 stubbornly satisfactory schools across Yorkshire 38 are serving communities which are among the top 20 per cent most affluent areas in the country.

Coasting schools are at the centre of a new crackdown which has been launched to raise standards.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister David Cameron held a meeting at Downing Street to address the issue. A number of experienced heads with a history of addressing educational underperformance were in attendance alongside Education Secretary Michael Gove. The Prime Minister has previously described the issue as a “hidden crisis”.

In the past inspectors could rate schools in one of four categories: outstanding, good, satisfactory or inadequate with only those in the bottom group being targeted for intervention – either being placed in special measures or given a formal notice to improve.

However, Ofsted now expects all schools to be rated at least good and has replaced the satisfactory category with “requires improvement”.

Schools will not be allowed to remain in this category for more than three years without being placed in special measures.

An Ofsted spokeswoman said: “All parents want to send their children to good schools. And it is thanks to the hard work of teachers and school leaders around the country that many of them do.

“However, around a third of schools failed to meet this level at their last inspection.

“There are too many coasting schools not providing an acceptable standard of education. Of particular concern are the 3,000 schools educating a million children that have been “satisfactory” two inspections in a row. This is not good enough.

“That is why Ofsted scrapped the ‘satisfactory’ grade replacing with the new grade ‘requires improvement’. Satisfactory should never have been more than a staging post on a school’s journey towards providing a good or outstanding education for all children.

“This move will tackle the number of coasting schools that have remained stubbornly ‘satisfactory’ over a number of inspections.

“From now on all schools inspected by Ofsted must, at a minimum, be judged as ‘good’ to be good enough for our children.”

Ofsted says it expects schools to improve within four years to a good standard, but it will also be more proactive in supporting and challenging schools to secure the necessary improvements.

Inspectors will be assigned to schools that require improvement to ensure that they progress to a good standard.

The new figures show there are stubbornly satisfactory schools in all 15 education authority areas in the Yorkshire region.

The 331 comprises 15 in Barnsley; 31 in Bradford; 14 in Calderdale; 20 in Doncaster; 22 in the East Riding; 13 in Hull; 24 in Kirklees; 47 in Leeds; nine in North East Lincolnshire, 11 in North Lincolnshire; 44 in North Yorkshire; 20 in Rotherham; 28 in Sheffield; 23 in Wakefield and 10 in York.

Ofsted has also warned that no school should fail to deliver a good education regardless of its circumstances.

Nationally there are 300 schools across England – including 38 in Yorkshire – which have been rated as satisfactory for at least two inspections in a row which serve communities in the 20 per cent most affluent areas in the country.

The figures obtained by the Yorkshire Post show there are 18 schools in affluent parts of North Yorkshire including Richmond and Harrogate, another eight in the East Riding and four more in Leeds which have been rated as satisfactory for two inspections in a row.

Ofsted’s annual report published last month revealed Yorkshire has the highest level of pupils in the country who do not have access a good education.

Of the 761,737 pupils and young people at schools, nurseries and pupil referral units in Yorkshire 40 per cent are not good or outstanding providers. More than quarter of a million are educated in schools rated as satisfactory. This represent 35 per cent of pupils – 266,607 and compares with a national average figure of 28 per cent.

Next month Ofsted will appoint Nick Hudson as the new regional director for Yorkshire and the North East responsible for driving up standards. It said his core mission would be to support underperforming schools and colleges to improve more quickly.