Brighter pupils make getting top ratings easier, Ofsted admits

The TES is reporting that a senior Ofsted official has said that it is “harder” for schools with lower-ability intakes to gain “good” or “outstanding” judgements.

The admission from Robert Pike, Ofsted’s chief statistician, is being seen as a further blow to the inspectorate’s claims to offer objective judgements on the quality of teaching and learning in schools.

Mary Bousted, general secretary of the ATL union, said: “The way Ofsted makes judgements on data means they simply compare less privileged schools to more privileged schools. [Less privileged schools] are always on a losing streak and an uneven playing field.”

Mr Pike also states that it is “probably easier” for “schools with advantaged intakes” to receive Ofsted’s top two grades. He makes his comments in a letter, seen by TES, to a deputy headteacher who has alleged that the inspectorate shows “extreme bias” against schools with lower-ability pupils.

Heads’ leaders are calling for the watchdog to give context more importance when making judgements on schools…

More at: Brighter pupils make getting top ratings easier, Ofsted admits


Does this apparent admission come as a surprise? Please let us know in the comments or via Twitter…


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Categories: Data, Policy, Primary and Secondary.


  1. A OSullivan

    Surely there has to be the obvious summation by Ofsted that a child’s performance in school is not just inherent upon the quality of teaching and learning, but other factors from outside the classroom environment that impact upon self-esteem and concentration levels e.g. broken families; poverty etc. Note the catchment areas of schools towards the bottom of the cursed league tables….and also factor in the number of pupils from more privileged backgrounds who benefit not just themselves but their schools from parental paid for, external private tutoring. 

    Both DfE & Ofsted are therefore yet to devise a truly fair system of school performance.

  2. rrunsworth

    SchoolsImprove Ofsted really should look at context, not as an excuse for failure, but to acknowledge challenges faced. HarfordSean

  3. rrunsworth

    SchoolsImprove Ofsted really should look at context, not as an excuse for failure, but to acknowledge challenges faced. HarfordSean

  4. rrunsworth

    SchoolsImprove Not read complete article but para about grammar teaching being more effective is rubbish, unfair on rest of profession

  5. Schools with intakes skewed to the top end are guaranteed to get better results than those with intakes skewed to the other end.  But results alone seem to be all that matters as I write here:

  6. DesmondDeehan SchoolsImprove It seems one Ofsted regional director is not bothering with progress or even the inspectorate’s own judgements.  The letter sent to Leeds saying primary performance was ‘weak’ and ‘inexcusable’ ignored the fact that in 2014 progress in Leeds primaries was slightly above the national average. 
    Of course the director could have been discussing the 2015 results which aren’t yet in the public domain but even then he could have checked inspection judgements first before sending out such a letter.  He would have found not a single Leeds primary is Inadequate and just 20 out of 200+ primaries were RI.

  7. Endthe11Plus

    SchoolsImprove Ofsted, the clipboard manager of expectations. ‘Brighter children’: Education needs to rethink this derogatory language.

  8. lennyvalentino

    SchoolsImprove This really is a shocking admission when you think of all the schools that have suffered after poor Ofsted outcomes.

  9. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove This is well known in education, only Ofsted and MPs have, until now, not admitted this. Expect endless denials from various

  10. AlfredoNokez1

    A blatant academisation strategy to release school monies to the private service companies with Tory connections.

  11. SanghaDr

    SchoolsImprove Different pupils learn differently develop different capabilities&skills most r transferable2different situations diversity!

  12. ciranstapleton

    SchoolsImprove Plenty of evidence published earlier this chronologically year by Sec Modern website & Twitter accounts justifying this..

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