Nine in ten local authority schools are good or outstanding
According to schools minister Nick Gibb, speaking to the Freedom and Autonomy for Schools National Organisation (aka the School Liberation Front), schools can only flourish if ‘power is wrestled from the old authorities’ by academization.
Academization not essential to do well in inspections
Gibb is wrong to say schools need to be academies or free schools to do well in the Ofsted stakes. Revised inspection data shows 90% of LA schools were good or better at their most recent inspection compared with 89% of converter academies and 69% of sponsored academies.
LA schools are mainly in the primary sector where 87% are good or better compared with 76% of secondary schools. A majority of secondary schools are academies. This rather undermines Gibb’s assertion that academization is essential for school improvement.
Ofsted grades at most recent inspection have steadily improved since 2010
What is undeniable is that there’s been a steady improvement in inspection outcomes since 2010. A Department for Education spokesperson, quoted in the Independent, said
‘Thanks to our reforms and the hard work of teachers, the vast majority of pupils are in a good or outstanding school, 1.9 million more than in 2010, and an increase from 66% to 86% over that time.’
This isn’t entirely misleading. The majority of English pupils are in a school which is good or better. But the 1.9 million figure probably needs updating. Ofsted’s revised data shows a drop in the proportion of good or better schools.
Largest improvement happened before reforms took effect
The largest increase, 69% to 77% happened between August 2012 and August 2013 when ‘reforms’ had had little time to have much effect. The Phonics Screening test, for example, wasn’t taken until 2012, the National Curriculum didn’t come into effect until September 2014 and the new GCSEs were only set for the first time last year.
The outcomes of the most recent inspections continued to increase year-on-year to reach a high of 87% at the end of August 2017.
Have we reached ‘peak Ofsted’?
The data for 2018 only goes as far as the end of March. But the figures so far show a small decline to 86%. It would be churlish to say we have reached peak Ofsted with four months still to go. But if this figure doesn’t increase by the end of August, then it would be the first year since 2010 that the proportion of schools good or better at their most recent inspection would have fallen.
Notes: I’ve omitted free schools from my discussion because too few (232) have been inspected to come to a reliable conclusion about their performance as a group.
All the percentages are revised figures. They can be found here.