Why are independent schools never judged as “requires improvement”?

Janet Downs's picture
 0
3% of English schools were judged “inadequate” at their last Ofsted inspection*. But the sleight of hand which redefined “satisfactory” as “requires improvement” pushed schools which had previously satisfied the criteria into the allegedly “failing” category.

But this redefinition of “satisfactory” doesn’t seem to apply to independent schools inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI). A factsheet (dated 2013) says schools will be judged as follows: Excellent, good, sound, and unsatisfactory.

So, a grade 3 independent school is “sound”; but a grade 3 state school “requires improvement”.

In the Early Years Foundation setting, however, "satisfactory" is the judgement given to Grade 3 independent schools.  The same fact sheet says:

“ISI is required to use the same terminology for grades as in Ofsted reports: outstanding, good, satisfactory and inadequate.”

But “satisfactory” as an Ofsted grade no longer exists - unless, of course, independent schools are treated more favourably.

It appears this is the case. ”Satisfactory” as a category remains for those independent schools inspected by Ofsted.

So, to recap:

1 Grade 3 independent schools inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate are Sound.

2 Grade 3 independent schools inspected by Ofsted are Satisfactory.

3 Grade 3 state schools Require Improvement.

This reminds me of the classic Two Ronnies sketch with John Cleese: “I look down on him…” Perhaps it should be rewritten.

Cleese: (Tailored woollen blazer with discrete badge) I look down on him (Indicates Barker) because I am Sound.

Barker:  (Braded blazer, carries book bag/sports bag/musical instrument all stamped with school logo) I look up to him (Cleese) because he is Sound; but I look down on him (Corbett) because he Requires Improvement. I am Satisfactory.

Corbett: (Polyester blazer, shirt hanging outside trousers, trainers) I know my place. I look up to them both. But I don't look up to him (Barker) as much as I look up to him (Cleese), because he is Sound.

Cleese: I look down on them both because I am Sound.

Barker: I still look up to him (Cleese) because he is Sound and I am only Satisfactory. But I am not as Unsatisfactory as him (Corbett) so I still look down on him (Corbett).

Corbett: I know my place. I look up to them both because I am not Sound and I am not Satisfactory. I Require Improvement .

Barker:  We all know our place, but what do we get out of it?

Cleese: I get a feeling of superiority over them. We are all Grade 3 but some Grade 3s are better than others.

Barker: I get a feeling of inferiority from him, (Cleese), but a feeling of superiority over him (Corbett).

Corbett:  I get a pain in the back of my neck.

 

*Disclaimer. Citing Ofsted judgements doesn’t imply agreement.

 

 
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