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Receiving Ofsted ratings ‘below good’ can act as a barrier to school improvement

Blog Editor, IOE Digital7 June 2022

Bernardita Munoz-Chereau, Jo Hutchinson and  Melanie Ehren. 

Finding ways to solve the stubborn underperformance of around 580 schools in England is high on the government’s agenda. The Schools White Paper ‘Opportunity for All: Strong schools with great teachers for your child’ sets out the government’s plans over the coming years, with strategies to address schools with successive ‘requires improvement’ (RI) grades.

Yet since 2017 Ofsted has focused on a group of schools judged as ‘requires improvement’, ‘satisfactory’ or ‘inadequate’ in every inspection over more than a decade. Subsequently, Ofsted conducted qualitative case studies of 10 ‘stuck’ and 10 ‘unstuck’ schools. ‘Fight or flight? How ‘‘Stuck’’ schools are overcoming isolation’ reports that ‘stuck’ schools need more targeted assistance, following more thorough and detailed inspections that are not tied to overall grades .

Our two-year mixed-methods research project studying ‘Stuck’ schools’, funded by the Nuffield Foundation, concluded that (more…)

Location location location: how the ‘wrong’ one can put schools in a difficult spot and the right kind of inspection could help pull them out

Blog Editor, IOE Digital1 December 2020

Melanie Ehren, Jo Hutchinson and Bernie Munoz-Chereau.

Where schools are located can make a big difference to their outcomes, and the pandemic is making the geographical gap worse in a number of ways. In remote or deprived areas, parents often have limited access to the internet, and this has severely limited schools’ ability to teach online during lockdowns and closures.

Now that students have returned to school, teachers and school leaders are tasked with the enormous challenge of making up for lost time. In remote or deprived areas, these challenges are even greater. In its 2020 report on ‘stuck schools’ – those struggling to improve over more than a decade – Ofsted looked at how location – particularly geographical remoteness and level of deprivation – relates to school performance. The Inspectorate said ‘a system of deeper inspection and better support’ was needed to improve education for children in these schools. This emphasis in tackling schools that are deemed less than ‘good’ is sustained in  Ofsted Annual Report 2019-2020 launched today.

Now more than ever, inspection needs to use place-based approaches to take into account the related challenges. Assessment of (more…)