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Interactive map displays Ofsted’s lowest-rated primary schools in England

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This year, Ofsted has produced about five primary school inspection reports, of which nearly one has been rated as poor or requiring improvement.

Approximately 725 primary schools have received an Ofsted report thus far in 2024. The majority have fallen into the Outstanding (16.7%) or Good (66%).

Ninety-five schools still need to improve, while 29 have already been deemed insufficient within the first six weeks of the year.

The data is held on the Ofsted website and is updated on a daily basis.

New school inspections were paused at the start of the year following an inquest into tragic teacher Ruth Perry who took her own life following an Ofsted report.

So far in 2024, 29 schools have been branded as Inadequate – the lowest rating on the scale.

Among the establishments on the failing list are independent schools which charge parents up to £50,000 a year to educate their children.

How far do you live from a failing primary school?
More than 1,500 primary schools across England have failed their most recent Ofsted inspection having been rated as either Inadequate or Requires Improvement.

A further 95 require improvement to secure a Good rating under the controversial system.

The regulator is continuing to use its single word inspection reviews despite the tragic suicide into the death of primary school teacher Ruth Perry.

Her inquest in December 2023 concluded that an Ofsted inspection on November 15-16, 2022 ‘likely contributed’ to her death.

The hearing heard from Ms Perry’s husband Jonathan Perry who said his wife feared the school’s performance could adversely affect house prices in the local area.

Since the inquest, the watchdog has made some changes and it has published a policy on how school inspections can be paused in exceptional circumstances – including where the headteacher requires support.

In one school, Farnborough Grange Nursery & Infant School, Ofsted has been regularly in contact with management having placed the school in Special Measures in September 2022.

In a report published last month, His Majesty’s Inspector Chris Ellison wrote: ‘There are some areas where necessary improvements have not been identified or acted on with sufficient urgency. There is a lack of capacity in the school to make further progress in these areas without additional support from the trust.’

The report also identified with pupil behaviour: ‘Staff are not adequately supported by leadership and systems in the school when managing challenging behaviour during lesson times.’

In Nields Junior Infant and Nursery School in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, inspectors said the quality of education, leadership and management and early years provision were all inadequate.

Behaviours and attitudes and personal development all require improvement.

A previous inspection at the school had graded it Good.

According to the report: ‘Since the last inspection, there has been significant turbulence in leadership at this school. The quality of education that pupils receive has declined. The school has begun to take steps to address this. Leaders have started to develop a more ambitious curriculum. However, this is in the earliest stages of development.’

The House of Commons Education Committee has urged Ofsted to change the way it evaluates schools following Ms Perry’s tragic death.

The report recommended the Department for Education (DfE) and Ofsted – headed by new chief inspector Sir Martyn Oliver – develop an alternative to the single-word judgements ‘as a priority’ and called on the two bodies to review the support mechanisms available to school leaders during and after an inspection.

The contents of the report were welcomed by Mrs Perry’s family.

Mrs Perry took her own life after an Ofsted report downgraded her Caversham Primary School in Reading from its highest rating to its lowest over safeguarding concerns.

Since the inquest, the watchdog has made some changes and it has published a policy on how school inspections can be paused in exceptional circumstances – including where the headteacher requires support.

Referring to the Education Committee’s report, Professor Julia Waters, Mrs Perry’s sister, said: ‘My family and I can only hope that this report and its recommendations will help to bring about the change needed to prevent other tragedies from occurring in the future.’

She called on Gillian Keegan to act, saying: ‘The Education Secretary has been keen in the past to ask people to congratulate her on what a great job she has done, while others have sat down and done nothing. It’s time she got to her feet now to end single-word judgements.’

The committee will seek regular updates in the year ahead from Ofsted on how it is responding to the areas of concern set out in the coroner’s report regarding the death of Mrs Perry.

Chair of the committee, Conservative MP Robin Walker, said: ‘The bulk of the evidence we received expressed widespread and deep concern about how the system works.

‘We repeatedly heard that Ofsted has lost the trust of a significant chunk of the teaching profession, and leaders.’

He added: ‘Changes to inspection practice announced by Ofsted last year were welcome, but more action is required – particularly regarding the areas of concern highlighted by the inquest into Ruth Perry’s death.

‘Ofsted must ensure it continues to listen and reform through 2024.’

Aside from reforming the single-word judgement and improving support for school leaders, the Education Committee also made recommendations on ‘inadequate’ judgements based on safeguarding, workload pressures placed on school staff, inspectors’ expertise, Ofsted’s complaints procedures and academisation of schools.

Current policy makes it ‘likely’ that an overall ‘inadequate’ judgement will follow if problems are found in a school’s safeguarding practices, even in cases where issues can be fixed within the two-month window before an inspection report is published.

The report concluded Ofsted should review this policy and ensure schools only receive ‘inadequate’ judgements where they are fundamentally failing to keep children safe.

The committee heard evidence from school staff that the workload required to prepare for inspections can feel ‘crushing’ and ‘relentless’.

It recommended Ofsted undertake a programme of research to understand the causes of inspection-related workload pressure and see what reforms could be made to reduce this.

The report went on to recommend that Ofsted ensure a lead inspector has expertise in the type of school they are inspecting after Lord Knight told the committee the inspection process could resemble ‘a sort of sausage machine’.

The committee heard strong criticism of Ofsted’s complaints procedures, including suggestions that the inspectorate was ‘marking its own homework’.

It was told attempts to appeal against judgements were limited by Ofsted’s policy of not sharing the evidence base it collects during an inspection.

The cross-party group also heard criticism of the Independent Complaints Adjudication Service for Ofsted for only being able to look at how the inspectorate has handled a complaint, instead of managing the complaint itself.

The report recommended Ofsted conduct an in-depth review of the complaints process and explore setting up an independent body to investigate judgements, as well as allow schools access to evidence.

The committee also called for the DfE to assess its policy of council-run schools being required to become academies after two ‘requires improvement’ judgements.

It also recommended inspections should be more in-depth and take longer in order to give an accurate picture of a school’s performance.

The National Association of Head Teachers welcomed the Education Committee’s calls for major changes to Ofsted.

General secretary Paul Whiteman said: ‘While the new chief inspector has demonstrated his willingness to listen and openness to change, it’s vital this is now followed by tangible action and far-reaching reform if Ofsted is to regain the trust of schools.’

But the National Education Union claimed the report ‘does not grasp the true scale of the problem’.

Daniel Kebede, the union’s general secretary, said: ‘Schools are complex, and single-word judgements are not a sustainable means of assessing them.

‘Replacing them with a more considered statement is important, but, as the work of the Beyond Ofsted commission has shown, dialogue between schools and ‘improvement partners’ is much more likely to yield genuine change.

‘We need Ofsted to be replaced altogether by a system of inspection which is supportive, effective and fair. The inspectorate in its current form is none of these things.’

A DfE spokesperson said: ‘We have worked closely with Ofsted to make significant changes to ensure inspections help to keep children safe, whilst also prioritising the wellbeing of school leaders, including by recently expanding our wellbeing support for teachers.

‘Ofsted’s overall judgement succinctly summarises inspection findings which gives parents the confidence in choosing the right school for their child and provides a clear basis for taking action to improve underperforming schools.’

They added that the department will give ‘careful consideration’ to the recommendations.

An Ofsted spokeswoman said: ‘We welcome the select committee’s report and its findings. We look forward to responding in full to the recommendations.

‘We have started making changes to the way we work, but we know more must be done to address the pressures faced by school leaders and staff. It is important that all changes we make are done in the best interest of children and their parents and carers, that is why we will launch a Big Listen in the coming weeks. We intend to hear from staff working in education and social care, as well as the parents, carers, children, young people and learners we serve.’

Responding to the recommendation to review single-word judgments, shadow education secretary Bridget Phillipson said: ‘Labour has long argued for the reform and strengthening of Ofsted so that its inspections give better information for parents and work with teachers to drive improvement in our schools.

‘Rebuilding the fractured relationship between schools, families and government will be a key priority for an incoming Labour government as part of our mission to break down barriers to opportunity.’

Mzaad
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Dulal Ahmed Chowdhury is the Editor of The Daily Dazzling Dawn. Previously, he has been serving in important positions in all the famous national dailies of the Bangladesh since the nineties. He has played a commendable role in journalism by participating in various events at the national and international levels. United Nations Conference, World Climate Conference, SAARC Summit are notable among them.

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