Schools with deprived pupils 'still less likely to be judged good', admits Ofsted

Schools with more pupils from deprived backgrounds are still less likely to be judged ‘good’ under the new inspection framework than those with more affluent pupils, Ofsted has admitted.

The acknowledgement comes almost exactly a year after chief inspector Amanda Spielman insisted the new framework – which was introduced in September – would “reward schools in challenging circumstances”.

Last month, Schools Week published analysis of the first 36 inspections under the new framework which suggested schools with more challenging intakes were still at a disadvantage, with those with the highest prior attainment intakes twice as likely to be rated ‘good’ than those with the lowest.

In a blog post published today, Sean Harford (pictured), Ofsted’s national director for education, admitted schools with more deprived intakes are still less likely to be rated ‘good’.

“Some will be disappointed to see that, so far, schools with more pupils from deprived backgrounds are still less likely to be judged ‘good’ than those from more affluent backgrounds under the EIF [education inspection framework], just as they were under the last framework,” he said.

Harford insisted inspectors do “take context into account when making judgements” and acknowledged that schools “in the poorest areas of the country face a steeper path to providing a good quality of education for their pupils”.

It’s unrealistic to think that a new inspection framework is suddenly going to result in a huge leap upwards in inspection grades for schools in disadvantaged areas

“It’s unrealistic to think that a new inspection framework is suddenly going to result in a huge leap upwards in inspection grades for schools in disadvantaged areas…. Some of these children are unfortunately not getting the education they deserve. Ofsted has to draw attention to that.”

In December last year, before the new framework was published, Spielman admitted that the old framework made it “harder to get a good or outstanding grade if your test scores are low” as a result of a “challenging or deprived intake”, and insisted the changes would “reward schools in challenging circumstances that are raising standards through strong curricula.”

In his blog, Harford insisted the inspectorate’s shift in focus away from exam results and towards curriculum means it is “easier for us to recognise the great things that schools – including those in areas of high disadvantage – are doing for pupils.”

He also said that, of the schools with pupils from the most deprived quintile inspected so far under the new framework, 64 per cent have been rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

However, although the proportion of all schools that have been judged ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ has remained at 86 per cent under the new framework, there has been a dip in the proportion of schools receiving the top two grades for overall effectiveness, from 80 per cent last year to 77 per cent this year to date.