Another “basic error” – Gove names-and-shames grade 4 primaries but not all of them judged inadequate

Janet Downs's picture
“The hon. Member for Stoke-on-Trent Central mentioned one particular free school, the Al-Madinah free school, and there were certainly grievous problems there. However…a number of local authority schools, unfortunately, also have the same ranking from Ofsted and have been graded as 4—inadequate—in every conceivable area. …He has not mentioned Hawthorn primary school, Oakhill primary school, Newtown primary school, Doncaster Road primary school, St John’s primary school, Stanhope primary school, Long Cross primary school, Wellfield, Roydon, Rosebrook or a number of others.”

Michael Gove, House of Commons, 30 October 2013

But how accurate is Gove’s list? There are a couple of hundred primary schools with St John in their name – they can’t all be inadequate “in every conceivable area”, can they? I found eight primary schools named Hawthorn(e) inspected by Ofsted in the years 2012 or 2013 – one was indeed inadequate in all four areas but one was outstanding, four were good and two required improvement.  There were two schools named Wellfield - one was good and the other was inadequate but not in all four areas.

A similar picture emerged with primary schools called Stanhope.  One was Outstanding, two were judged satisfactory/requires improvement**, and one was was judged inadequate in all four areas in May 2012.  A monitoring visit in June 2013 found the school was making" reasonable progress towards the removal of special measures".  Ofsted said the LA had brokered external support and was continuing to monitor the school's work "closely".  A good example, therefore, of how LAs can support struggling schools.

I couldn’t find* any primary schools with Newton in their name inspected by Ofsted in 2012 or 2013 and judged inadequate. I discovered seven which were good and three which were satisfactory/requires improvement**. But not one was inadequate, let alone “in every conceivable area”. (NOTE: 12.37  Gove wasn't referring to Newton but Newtown - my error.  See Correction below.)

Gove was trying to deflect criticism about lax oversight of Al-Madinah free school by saying some local authority (LA) schools were just as bad. But although some of the schools he named were judged inadequate in all four areas not one of their reports contained the words “dysfunctional”, “in chaos” or “collapsing”.

But Al-Madinah is a secondary as well as a primary school. It’s quite easy to find local authority (LA) schools judged inadequate when most primary schools are LA schools. A less selective comparison would also look at secondary schools.

Apart from Al-Madinah, I could find*** no other secondary school judged inadequate in all four areas in September or October 2013. I found eight secondary schools which had received Ofsted monitoring visits during this time which had been judged inadequate in all four areas in the years 2012 or 2013. Four were LA schools but the other four were sponsored academies.

None of these Ofsted reports used the words “dysfunctional”, “in chaos” or “collapsing”.

So, if Gove is going to name-and-shame schools he shouldn’t make basic errors which could lead parents to think their child's school had been judged inadequate but they hadn't been told. Neither should he be selective and choose only one group of schools, primaries, to “prove” LA schools were as bad as Al-Madinah free school.

CORRECTION   Mea Culpa I, too, have made a basic error.  I misread Newtown as Newton.  I didn’t even twig when Brian pointed it out (see comments below).  I’ve now checked (thanks Al Wilson) and found six primary schools called Newtown were inspected in 2012 or 2013.  One was good, four were satisfactory/requires improvement and one was inadequate on all four counts.  Its report didn't contain the words "chaos", "dysfunctional" or "collapsing".  The monitoring report on the latter (June 2013) says the school is ”making reasonable progress towards the removal of special measures”. Ofsted said, “The headteacher is successfully transforming the school into a positive and stimulating learning environment” and praised the “good support the school has received from the local authority has been a significant contributory factor in enabling the school to accelerate the rate of improvement.”


*It may be that there is an Ofsted report waiting publication, or my searches missed the inadequate Newton primary. I should be grateful if anyone finds it – I will then correct this post (post corrected 12.37.  Thanks Brian and Al Wilson)

**The Inspection regime for state schools changed during 2012. “Satisfactory” was replaced by “Requires Improvement”. If these were independent schools inspected by Ofsted they would still be graded “Satisfactory”. If they were independent schools inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate they would be classified as “Sound” (see sidebar).

***Again, I may have missed a secondary school judged inadequate in all four areas. If someone discovers more than eight please let me know.

NOTE: Citing Ofsted judgements does not imply agreement.

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