Ofsted annual report highlights social care failings

22 Nov 2011

 Although the judgements on schools and teaching quality will probably capture most of the headlines, perhaps the most shocking finding in the Ofsted annual report relates to the role of local authorities in relation to vulnerable young people.

Children in care

According to Ofsted, the 'stark' finding is that  almost one in five of the local authorities which had a safeguarding inspection this year were found to be inadequate. According to Ofsted this meant that 'children were at risk'. Of those inspected this year, not one service for 'looked after' children was outstanding.

Early Years

There was a better picture elsewhere. Amongst early years and nursery provision, 12% of those inspected were found to be outstanding, with 62% good, 23% satisfactory and 3% inadequate. This was an improvement on the last year.

Schools

The overall picture for schools shows that 20% are outstanding, with 50% good, 28% satisfactory, and 2%  inadequate.  This is a similar to picture to last year. 

However, there was an improved picture for the number of schools that are either judged inadequate or have been put in special measures. There were 451 such schools at the end of August 2011 compared to 533 in the previous year.  

Of the 75 academies inspected this year, 40 were outstanding or good, 30 satisfactory, and 5 were inadequate. 

 The Chief Inspector, Miriam Rosen, also highlighted the number of 'coasting' schools: identifying 800 (14%)  that had been found to be only satisfactory in at least their past two inspections. The fact that Ofsted had focused on coasting schools (and also on phonics teaching) led one headteachers' union  - the ASCL - to accuse the inspectorate of 'putting undue emphasis on government priorities'.

Its General-secretary, Brian Lightman, said “It is interesting that the report specifically addresses ‘coasting’ schools, phonics and academy successes, all government priorities. One of the great strengths of Ofsted is its autonomy from the DfE and its ability to objectively assess not only individual institutions but the state of the education system as a whole. I sincerely hope that the incoming chief inspector will make it a priority to safeguard and promote Ofsted’s independence.”

Teacher training

The picture for teacher training is very good and - as such - undermines the government's determination to move training away from university departments and into schools. The inspectorate's findings suggest the current system is, in fact, already working well with 'the very large majority' of initial teacher education inspected by Ofsted over the last three years being judged to be good or outstanding. The actual figures are: 31% outstanding, 58% good, 10% satisfactory and just 1% (or 2 providers) judged inadequate.

Ofsted is squeezed

The Chief Inspector also drew attention to the fact that Ofsted's budget is being cut by 30% in real terms between now and 2014. She warned that this would mean being 'more selective' about what Ofsted inspects and that could mean losing the 'reassurance' that users of services expect from regular inspection.

The full report is here: www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/annualreport1011

User Comments

andrew fielder - 23 Nov 2011

Developing Ofsted's capacity to focus on the most needy.

Ofsted has had its uses but if things in education keep evolving at the pace they are I feel that Ofsted's days are numbered and its value even now questionable.

Ofsted's reputation has swung from untrained pitbull to pussycat over the years. It completely wiped out the careers of many of my colleagues, raised serious issues about some schools, has struggled to prove what value it has added, or has abjectly failed as it did at Haringey. Its remit has become vast, its resources dramatically reduced making a challenging role impossible.

Far too much expectation and emphasis is placed on Ofsted's 'objective' judgements on our schools. Invariably inspections tell us nothing more than parents, staff, and children already know. These judgements can at times depend entirely on the lead inspector lottery, if you are fortunate you will get a prefessional, compassionate, and reasonable lead inspector, unfortunately many colleagues will tell you that is not always the case..

In this day and age, with reducing budgets, more focus on school led improvement, with practitioners driving the whole improvement agenda across all sectors, school to school partnerships, isn't it time we broke away from the old model of inspection? Its time to craft a genuine partnership between Ofsted and school sponsors (expert head teachers responsible for raising standards in other schools). Let sponsors commission Ofsted to inspect their schools in a far more focussed and effecient way. This would then enable Ofsted to develop more capacity to focus on LA services linked to children in care, looked after children and care homes.

Ursula - 23 Nov 2011

inspections

Not sure about the 'reassurance' - maybe instead it would be good to get on with the actual business of teaching! And that doesn't meaning teaching teaching either!

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