- Children, Schools and Families Committee Contents

Further supplementary memorandum submitted by Ofsted to Graham Stuart MP

  I was grateful for the opportunity to give evidence to the Select Committee on Wednesday 6 May, as part of your inquiry into School Accountability. During the session, you asked me about the proportion of secondary schools judged as satisfactory, and I said that I would provide figures to outline the general trend of improvement over the last three years.

In order to gain an understanding of the improvement of the sector, it is important to look at the proportion of schools that is satisfactory or better. Over the last three years (up to autumn 2008), the proportion of inadequate schools has declined and therefore, the proportion that are satisfactory or better has increased from 87% to 94%. Indeed, the proportion of outstanding schools in the autumn term 2008 was double that in the autumn term 2005.

  Although I am cautious about making general statements based on only one term's data, you will see that the chart below shows a general trend of improvement since 2005.

  It is also the case that, as Ofsted has worked to "raise the bar" with each new inspection framework, what was judged as satisfactory four years ago would not necessarily be judged as satisfactory now. For example, we have added additional inspection requirements since 2005, such as the duty to promote community cohesion and the use of challenging targets to raise standards. As a consequence, what we now require for a school to be judged satisfactory is more demanding than was the case in 2005-06, when the current inspection framework was introduced. Similar proportions should, therefore, be seen as evidence of continued improvement.

  You will recall that I also mentioned that we are planning to increase the number of monitoring visits we make to schools that have been judged as satisfactory. This new series of visits was introduced in 2007 and we currently make a return visit to around 5% of schools that have been judged to be satisfactory. The success of these visits, welcomed by schools, means they will be increased from September 2009. Although final plans are yet to be agreed, I anticipate that around 40% of all satisfactory schools will receive such a visit. In this way, Ofsted will be able to ensure that schools which were judged as satisfactory overall continue to be monitored, and to improve.

  As I said at the time, I consider the inquiry into School Accountability to be a very important and well-timed opportunity to scrutinise the wider framework of accountability for schools. If there are any aspects of this inquiry on which you would like anything further from Ofsted, please be in touch.

Christine Gilbert

Her Majesty's Chief Inspector

May 2009

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