Fewer visits but more schools requiring improvement: Sophie Scott looks into this year’s spring term inspections


Overall grade distribution

Continuing a trend for the 2015-16 academic year, the number of inspections fell significantly compared with last year, with roughly half the number taking place in the same period.

The picture looks slightly less positive than last year; more than 40 per cent of schools visited by Ofsted since January 1 have been rated as inadequate or requires improvement – an increase of 10 percentage points.

The increase is largely in the requires improvement category, with 31 per cent falling into that category this term.

Just over half the schools increased by one Ofsted grade, though none managed the leap from inadequate to outstanding.

Three schools – all primaries – have been downgraded from outstanding to inadequate, including one that converted to an academy.

CASE STUDY: St Aldhelm’s Academy: The school that got better with walls

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Primaries v Secondaries

Primary schools still outperform secondaries, with 64 per cent gaining the top two grades, compared with 47 per cent of secondary schools.

But primary schools are not doing as well as last year, with a drop of 7 percentage points in the proportion of schools told they are outstanding or good.

Primary schools had the largest decrease in the number of inspections, down from 804 last year to 469 since January 1.

Almost the same number of secondary schools were inspected in the same period and their overall picture remains similar to this time last year.

Special and alternative provision (AP) schools had the most marked difference in outcomes.

Proportionally, almost three times as many AP schools were told they were inadequate or requires improvement (from 23 per cent last spring to 64 per cent this term), and twice the proportion of special schools received the bottom two grades (up to 33 per cent from 17 per cent).

No AP school inspected last term was rated as outstanding.

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Different school types

As detailed in the Department for Education’s white paper last month, all schools are expected to become academies by 2022 following government claims that academies can improve performance.

Ofsted outcomes this term do not appear to back this up. The overall performance of maintained schools in comparison with converter academies is almost identical – 61 per cent of LA-maintained schools are good or outstanding, compared with 58 per cent of converter academies. However, 20 per cent of converter academies are outstanding – 10 percentage points more than LA-maintained schools.

Sponsored academies – schools typically turned into academies after being told they are inadequate or requires improvement – have much poorer outcomes.

But when both sponsored and converter academies inspection outcomes are measured together, LA-maintained schools come out on top. Fifty per cent of academies were outstanding or good, compared with 61 per cent of
LA-maintained schools.

Very few free schools were inspected over the past three months. None was outstanding, three were good and one – a special school – inadequate.

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