Changes to the way schools are ranked have resulted in more than 100 institutions previously rated as “outstanding” being downgraded by schools inspector Ofsted. Prior to the new system, introduced in September 2012, schools could be rated “outstanding” even if the quality of teaching was not judged to be of the very highest level. This is no longer possible under Ofsted’s new regime, and 111 primary and secondary schools have now lost the most prestigious status.
The reforms, designed by chief Ofsted inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, are intended to dissuade schools from focusing on peripheral issues and instead concentrate on driving up standards in the classroom. Of the schools hit with a downgrade, 20 were told they “require improvement” and two have been branded “inadequate”, Ofsted’s most damning ranking. Of the 155 schools inspected since last September, only 44 now retain the “outstanding” rating, while 90 earned a “good” result.
Speaking to BBC News, an Ofsted spokesperson said: “It makes sense that outstanding schools should have outstanding teaching – parents expect that. This doesn’t mean that every lesson needs to be outstanding but, over time, schools must show outstanding teaching is helping pupils make excellent progress.” However, teaching union the NUT has complained that the new system is “changing the goal posts” and will make it more difficult for schools to meet government targets.