Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Three satisfactories = special measures: Ofsted rings more changes

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the head of Ofsted, has proposed that the both the ‘Satisfactory’ and ‘notice to improve’ categories should be abolished and replaced with one new category ‘requires improvement’. 

In particular, he highlighted the fact that too many schools have been judged ‘satisfactory’ in successive inspections. His view is that if after two inspection cycles schools have not improved then more drastic measures are needed. His proposal is that if a school judged satisfactory/‘requiring improvement’ in each of its last two inspections has not improved sufficiently to be classed as good in its next inspection, then in future it would automatically be placed in special measures. The maximum gap between inspections would also be reduced to between 12-18 months. Sir Michael noted that 3,000 schools have been judged satisfactory in their last two inspections and of these 300 are in relatively affluent areas. A list of these schools along with a list of 700 schools in the most deprived areas which have improved from satisfactory to good or outstanding can be found via the link to Sir Michael’s statement below. Any changes will be the subject of consultation.
The Prime Minister, David Cameron, voiced his support for the proposals by saying “I don't want the word 'satisfactory' to exist in our education system. Just good enough' is frankly not good enough. Every teacher, every head and every school should be aiming for excellence – no lower."
Christine Blower, the General Secretary of the National Union of Teachers, responded to the proposal by stating that labelling schools as coasting and underperforming was “derogatory and insulting to pupils, teachers, school leaders and governors.” The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) announced qualified support for the proposals, but expressed concern about the fact that the changes had been announced without warning when a new framework had only just been implemented.