Primary schools continue to forge ahead, says Ofsted
Ofsted Annual Report says that primary schools continue to progress but secondary school improvement has stalled.
The gap in performance between primary schools and secondary schools in England is widening, the Chief Inspector of Ofsted said on December 10. Launching his third Annual Report, Sir Michael Wilshaw said that primary school standards are continuing on an impressive upward trajectory – with more than eight in ten schools now rated at least good.
The overall rate of improvement in secondary schools, however, has stalled. A similar number of secondary schools inspected over the last 12 months improved as declined – while over 50 more secondaries are now in special measures than was the case a year ago. During the same period, teaching in the further education sector has improved but too many college courses are still not equipping learners with the skills that employers want and the economy needs.
Today’s Annual Report is underpinned by the findings of more than 7,000 inspections carried out during 2013/14 of schools, colleges and further education and skills providers. Separate reports dedicated to the children’s social care and early years sectors will be published in the coming months.
The report finds that 82% of primary schools are now good or outstanding (up from 78% a year ago) while the overall proportion of good or outstanding secondary schools remains unchanged from last year at 71%.
There are now 700,000 more pupils attending a good or outstanding primary school than in 2012. A higher proportion of secondary schools than primary schools are outstanding, 113 schools achieving Ofsted’s highest grade in the last year alone.
On the other hand, more than 170,000 pupils are now in secondary schools rated inadequate, an increase of around 70,000 from two years ago. And there are 13 local authority areas of the country where children have a less than 50% chance of attending a good or outstanding secondary school.
Sir Michael said more primary schools are improving because they attend to the basics, including:
- improving the quality of leadership
- effective governance
- teaching focused on getting the basics right, including phonics
- good attendance and behaviour
- enabling the more able pupils to reach their potential
- narrowing the gap between those on free school meals and other pupils
In secondary schools where improvement has stalled, or standards have declined, inspectors identified the following common characteristics:
- teaching at Key Stage 3 (11 to 14) failing to build on prior learning
- poor and inconsistent leadership
- ineffective middle management
- too much low-level disruption
- the most able not being challenged
- a failure to narrow the gap for disadvantaged pupils
- weak governance and oversight.
The proportion of further education and skills providers that are good or outstanding has increased to 81% from 72% in 2013.
However, the report says that in order to improve the quality and status of vocational training in England, a number of issues need to be addressed, including:
- poor careers guidance
- young people not having the right skills and attitudes
- weak teaching in the FE and skills sector in English and mathematics
- a lack of employer involvement