Spike in Ofsted 'outstandings' for secondaries


There has been a sharp spike in the number of secondary schools judged to be "outstanding" in the last quarter. However, overall the new Ofsted framework has seen a seven per cent drop in outstanding ratings and a three per cent rise in "inadequate" judge

The introduction of the revised Ofsted inspection framework in January has led to a seven per cent drop in schools being judged as “outstanding” and a three per cent rise in “inadequate” judgements.

However, there has been a sharp spike in the number of secondary schools judged to be outstanding in the last quarter for which figures are available.

Ofsted this week released statistics for the April to June 2012 period of inspections, meaning figures are now available for the first six months of Sir Michael Wilshaw’s regime as chief inspector.

They show that between January and March, only 17 secondary schools managed to gain the outstanding judgement – five per cent of the 316 inspected. 

However, between April and June, 38 gained the top grade – 15 per cent of the 247 schools visited.

This 10 per cent spike is much higher than the rise in the overall figures – across all types of school, seven per cent gained an outstanding in January to March, while 11 per cent matched this in April to June.

Taken as a whole, however, this year’s figures show a distinct drop in the number of outstandings when compared with the autumn 2011 term – the last under the previous framework and before Sir Michael took over Ofsted with his stated intention of raising the bar.

The number of outstanding secondaries in April to June is still five per cent down on the 20 per cent that were judged to be in the top category between September and December 2011.

Furthermore, across all types of school between September and December last year, 16 per cent gained the top judgement, compared to nine per cent of schools judged between January and June this year – a seven per cent drop.

There has also been a three per cent increase in schools judged as “inadequate” – from six per cent in the autumn 2011 to nine per cent between January and June 2012.

Schools judged “satisfactory” have remained at 31 per cent across both periods, while those rated as “good” have increased from 46 to 51 per cent.

Breaking the quarterly figures down at secondary level further, there were also notable variations in “inadequate” judgements.

Nine per cent of secondaries were judged to be failing between October and December 2011, compared to six per cent in April to June 2012. 

However, between January and March this year, 19 per cent of the secondaries inspected were judged inadequate.

The statistical release from Ofsted stated: “Since the introduction of the new framework the profile of inspection judgements has shifted, with a lower proportion of schools being judged good and outstanding and a higher proportion being judged satisfactory or inadequate.”

The figures come as the revised inspection framework came into effect this month, scrapping the “satisfactory” rating and replacing it with “requires improvement”. Also, notice is now only being given to schools the afternoon before inspectors arrive.

Commenting on the latest figures, Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said that after concerns from school leaders earlier this year of the “quality and consistency” of inspections, he is now more hopeful.

He explained: “These figures suggest that Ofsted’s inspectors may, at last, be starting to get the hang of the new framework. Reports in the media and anecdotal evidence from our members earlier in the year had given us considerable cause for concern over the quality and consistency of school judgements.

“These new figures give us hope that a corner may be about to be turned and we are pleased to note that the many strengths of our school system are starting to come through.”

Secondary school Section 5 inspection outcomes

October to December 2011 (241 inspections):

  • Outstanding: 49 (20 per cent)
  • Good: 87 (36 per cent)
  • Satisfactory: 83 (34 per cent)
  • Inadequate: 22 (9 per cent) 

January to March 2012 (316 inspections):

  • Outstanding: 17 (5 per cent)
  • Good: 122 (39 per cent)
  • Satisfactory: 118 (37 per cent)
  • Inadequate: 59 (19 per cent) 

April to June 2012 (247 inspections):

  • Outstanding: 38 (15 per cent)
  • Good: 120 (49 per cent)
  • Satisfactory: 75 (30 per cent)
  • Inadequate: 14 (6 per cent)


All school types Section 5 inspection outcomes

September to December 2011 (2,236 inspections):

  • Outstanding: 366 (16 per cent)
  • Good: 1,048 (47 per cent)
  • Satisfactory: 684 (31 per cent)
  • Inadequate: 138 (6 per cent)

January to June 2012 (3,550 inspections):

  • Outstanding: 307 (9 per cent)
  • Good: 1,804 (51 per cent)
  • Satisfactory: 1,104 (31 per cent)
  • Inadequate: 335 (9 per cent)


All school types – overall gradings on June 31

The national picture at the end of June 2012 shows that of 21,686 maintained schools which have been judged under Section 5, 4,477 are “outstanding” (21 per cent) and 10,538 are “good” (49 per cent). A total of 6,100 are considered to be “satisfactory” (28 per cent), and 571 “inadequate” (three per cent). Of the inadequate category, 227 schools have a notice to improve and 344 are in special measures.


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