Ofsted chief criticises ‘scandal’ of schools stuck in a rut of failure

Hundreds of schools in England are stuck in a decade-long rut of poor performance that is “nothing short of a scandal” and threatens to undermine the country’s quality of education, the chief inspector of schools has told MPs. The Guardian reports.

In an outspoken letter to parliament’s public accounts committee, Amanda Spielman, the head of Ofsted, detailed a series of major risks to the school system in England, including several comments that are critical of government policy.

She highlighted the nearly 500 state schools she described as “stuck”, having been rated as either inadequate or requiring improvement in every Ofsted inspection since 2005.

“That these schools remain poor for so long means that, for some children, in certain areas, there may be no opportunity to attend a good school at any point in their education. This is nothing short of a scandal and is a betrayal of children’s futures,” Spielman said.

Spielman also criticised the use of performance tables and targets to rank schools, saying she saw evidence of a decline in the quality of education because of “an endemic pattern of prioritising data and performance results, ahead of the real substance of education”.

Ofsted found examples of primary schools in effect suspending their final year to focus exclusively on end-of-year tests, “rather than encouraging children to grapple with new mathematical concepts or encouraging them to read widely”, Spielman said.

But the chief inspector also said Ofsted had seen no evidence that cuts to school budgets had resulted in a decline.

“In recent years, as funding growth has slowed, school leaders have had to work harder to balance their budgets and we see this necessitating some difficult choices. Currently, however, my inspectors are not seeing an impact on education standards,” Spielman said, in comments that will come as some relief to the Department for Education (DfE).

Read the full article Ofsted chief criticises ‘scandal’ of schools stuck in a rut of failure

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