Ofsted claims wide variations in the performance of schools


There are wide variations in the performance of schools across different local authority areas, leading to serious inequities for children in some parts of the country, according to Ofsted's annual report.

According to Ofsted Chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, families' chances of having a good local school depend too much on which part of the country they live in.

Figures show that while pupils in some areas had a more than 90% chance of going to a school rated good or better, in other regions this fell to below 50%.

The report also highlighted concerns about the quality of further education colleges, saying that for the second year running, Ofsted did not judge a single college to be outstanding for teaching and learning.

Across the whole of England 70% of schools are rated good or outstanding, against 64% five years ago. However, this headline figure disguises the highly unequal opportunities faced by students between regions, by no means all of them attributable to socio-economic factors.

Sir Michael Wilshaw said: "Access to good education and training is far too dependent on where you happen to live. "This is really unacceptable. A child's chances of getting into a good or better school are twice as good in some local authority areas than in others

"Why is it that a child living in Derby or Doncaster local authority areas has only half the chance of attending a good or better primary or secondary school compared with a child living in Wigan or Darlington? Why is it that Coventry has a smaller proportion of pupils attending good or better primary schools than any local authority area in the country? Do parents realise this? What is being done about it?"

He wen t on to say: "We need to find out what is happening and inspect where necessary. We will also work with local areas to support then and help them link up with best practice.

"We'll be looking very carefully at what's happening in those local authorities with the same sort of population, with similar levels of deprivation, similar numbers of children on free school meals, where one particular local authority does extremely well and another one doesn't.

"We'll be asking a question - why is it parents in some parts of the country have less than a 50% chance of getting their children into a good primary school where there are other parts of the country where that chance is over 90%?"

A Department for Education spokesman said: "Sir Michael is right that standards in some local authorities are simply not good enough. There are still too many schools that do not provide a good enough education. We make no apology for introducing reforms to drive up standards in schools.

"The report recognises that sponsored academies - with strong leadership and real expertise - are the best way to turn around struggling schools. That is why we are identifying consistently weak schools and allowing experienced academy sponsors to take them over. Academies have already turned around hundreds of struggling schools and are improving their results at twice the national average."

Ofsted plans to implement a league table that will rank local authorities according to the organisation's ratings of their schools.