Muddled data sets throw doubt on government data re Outstanding academies

Janet Downs's picture

It should be straightforward to find inspection reports.  Type in a school’s name on Ofsted’s search page and the school’s record appears.

But if the school has converted to an academy, then only an Academy Conversion Letter is shown unless the school’s been inspected since conversion.  

The predecessor school’s report might still be available by clicking ‘All Providers’ on Ofsted’s search results page.  But reports for predecessor schools are wiped after five years, Schools Week found.   

Academies are technically ‘new’ schools formed the day after the predecessor school ‘closed’.  As new schools, they technically have no Ofsted judgement until inspected after conversion.

But this doesn’t apply to converter academies judged Outstanding before conversion.   They maintain their prior status even if judgements are years old. 

Ofsted is planning to look at ‘unusually long gaps’ but until it does so these out-of-date reports will be presented as reliable.   

The labyrinthine nature of government data sets recording inspection judgements is demonstrated by searching for the report of one academy converter, Bourne Grammar School in Lincolnshire.

The first data set is Ofsted.  The Search Result says Bourne Grammar’s last report was on 18 February 2012.     But clicking on the school’s name shows just an Academy Conversion Letter dated 18 February 2012.

An Academy Conversion Letter is not an inspection report.

Ofsted’s Search Result page has a tab called ‘All Providers’. Clicking on this reveals the same information as before: last report 18 February 2012.

But it wasn't the 'last report' - it's the Academy Conversion Letter.

The second data set is Get Information About Schools from the Department for Education (DfE).  Bourne Grammar’s record shows the school was judged Outstanding at its last inspection on 6 March 2008.  But the Ofsted link lands on the record showing only the Academy Conversion Letter.

At the top of every record on Get Information About Schools is a tab named ‘Links’. This leads to Bourne Grammar’s predecessor school also named Bourne Grammar.  Clicking on the name shows the Ofsted rating as ‘No data available (Last inspection: 05 March 2008)’.   There’s a link to an Ofsted report.  This says ‘Sorry, we couldn't find that page’.

The third data set is the School Performance Tables.  Bourne Grammar’s record shows it was Outstanding in 2008 but the link reveals the Ofsted record with just the Academy Conversion Letter. 

I eventually found the 2008 inspection report on the school’s website.  

It should be possible to find inspection reports from a central point.  And the information should be up-to-date and accurate.  But as we see above, Bourne Grammar is either Outstanding or No data. 

School Performance Tables show there are thirteen Outstanding Lincolnshire schools whose inspections date from 2008 or before.  Eight are now academies.  Three of the five LA-maintained schools have interim assessments confirming the outstanding judgement although these don’t appear on School Performance Tables information.  The academies have had neither interim assessments nor inspections.   

Inspection of these academies and others like them is long overdue.  

UPDATE 14 November 2017 08.29  The link given above to School Performance Tables showing the thirteen Outstanding Lincolnshire schools no longer works.  I suspect it has timed out.  Anyone wishing to check the names of these schools should go to the School Performance Tables search page and click on 'search by local authority...'.   Type 'Lincolnshire' in the box.  This takes you to the page listing all schools and colleges in Lincolnshire.  Click on the tab 'Ofsted ratings'.  This will show ratings of all Lincs schools which have been inspected.  Click on the arrow in the 'Date of Inspection' box.  This will sort the schools in date order with the oldest (and most out-of-date) Ofsted listed first.

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