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

curriculum subjects Harford


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.



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8 Comments

  1. Spent 14 years working in such a school, complete waste of my time always told not good enough and denied pay rises. Strange that the same people who started this accountability push are now saying that student and schools serving disadvantage areas have a harder time to gain Good and Outstanding. Just how many careers and teachers poor mental health did it cost for you to realize this. Or maybe it is the retention issues that have made to smell the salts?

  2. James Mook

    How can the proportion of schools judged ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ remain at 86 per cent and there be a dip in the proportion of schools receiving the top two grades for overall effectiveness? I must be misinterpreting something here.

    • Mark Watson

      Agreed, that seems nonsensical. If anyone can make sense of this it would be helpful!

      Also, suggesting such a trend based on only 36 inspections seems a little presumptuous. Given the number of inspections Ofsted carry out surely it would have made sense to wait until there were a decent number of data sets to review …

      • Mark – the 36 inspections referred to the earlier analysis done by Schools Week. As you say, it’s too small a dataset to come to a reliable conclusion.
        Sean Harford wrote that the analysis was ‘based on just 840 full inspections and section 8 inspections of previously good and outstanding non-exempt schools’ and warned about reading ‘too much into that’.

    • James – I think it might mean that 86% of all schools are good or better at their most recent inspection (which might be years ago) but the proportion receiving these top grades among schools inspected under the new framework are less likely to be judged good or better.

  3. Diane Simpson

    The ‘education is not good enough’ …. possibly because the pupil needs are such that they cannot learn, they need breakfast or shoes to walk to school. Schools with a higher percenatge of deprived children are facing many problems enabling pupils to be ready to learn. They do not fit into categories, the pupils have individual needs. This is not measured other than the number of PP children. Even with the extra funding there are just not enough adults to help children when they are faced with their emotional homelives, school is the haven. Having some understanding of this and no pre-conceived ideas of the area is needed.

  4. David Fountain

    Just have a look at the Kent secondary schools with their Grammar system…guess which half of that system has the most ‘outstanding’ and which the most ‘Requires Improvement’?