Ofsted swoops on schools after Derby is accused of failing children
A TEAM of inspectors will swoop on 11 city schools from today as the Government cracks down on under-performing local authorities, starting with Derby.
The inspections are being carried out because the Office for Standards in Education believes Derby children "are being denied the standard of education they deserve".
As well as scrutinising schools, the Ofsted inspectors will be asking head teachers what they think about the city council's effectiveness and support.
Derby is the first place to be targeted following remarks made nationally by Education Secretary Michael Gove last October when he identified the city as place of low performance, particularly in the primary sector.
This was followed a few weeks later by Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw criticising Derby for its number of failing schools.
In both instances, the city council complained that data being used was based on figures from 2011 and since then the city's primary SATs performance has improved and more schools have received "good" inspections than ever before.
Speaking at the North of England Education Conference in Sheffield later today, Sir Michael will announce the week-long concerted inspections and a new system for inspecting the school improvement service in under-performing local authorities, still based on 2011 data.
He will say: "It cannot be right that in local authorities with the same demographics, the same sort of population and the same levels of deprivation, parents have such widely varying opportunities of finding a good school.
"We will be seeking to determine whether councils are really fulfilling their statutory duties to promote high standards. Where we find evidence that the local authority is not demonstrating effective leadership, then we shall inspect it."
The schools which will be inspected today and tomorrow have been picked as a cross-section from the city and were not identified as "failing" in their last inspections. The council requested that they not be named to prevent "putting teachers or pupils in the spotlight whilst the inspections are ongoing".
Councillor Martin Rawson, cabinet member for children and young people, said: "My number one priority is improving educational attainment for the young people of our city.
"This is a high priority for the council cabinet. We already work extremely well with our schools and officers are actively working to support schools to ensure they are providing high standards of education to our children."
COUNCIL'S RESPONSE TO THE INSPECTIONS
THE city council issued a statement to the Derby Telegraph in response to Ofsted's announcement. The following is an abridged version:
DERBY City Council welcomes the new focused school inspections announced by Michael Wilshaw. This system will provide an opportunity for the council to evidence improvement in terms of school Ofsted judgments and performance data. Through focused inspections, the council will demonstrate the effectiveness of our school improvement services and the success of the recently reviewed Derby Winners strategy.
Outcomes for pupils are steadily improving in Derby. Recently published key stage two data analysis shows that the number of pupils attaining level four-plus in English and maths has increased by seven percentage points. In 2011, 18 Derby city schools were below the 60% government floor standards for attainment – validated data for 2012 indicates that this figure has reduced to five schools and one academy.
Since the publication of the August 2012 HMCI report, seven of the ten infant/primary maintained schools inspected have been judged to be "good". Of these seven, six moved up from a judgment of "satisfactory" to "good". The current percentage of local authority maintained schools judged good or better as at January 1, 2013 is 61%.
For schools judged to be inadequate or requiring improvement, the council continues to implement a range of solutions. These include:
Facilitating moves towards cooperative trust model
Strengthening of leadership through partnership with good/outstanding schools
Replacement of leadership with executive head teachers
Strengthening of governance by appointing more governors
Replacement of governing bodies by IEBs
Closure/merger of schools
Establishment of federations
Schools below the floor standard are expected to work through individualised short-term improvement plans drawn up in consultation with the council.