Ofsted warns over ‘postcode lottery’ in school standards

More than two million children are being taught in underperfoming schools because of a “postcode lottery” which affects even the most affluent areas, Ofsted has warned. In some councils, pupils are facing a less than 50 per cent chance of attending a good school, it was revealed. This is from the Telegraph…

In its annual report, the watchdog said that children’s chances of getting into a high-performing primary or secondary were too dependent on their postcode.

Inspectors insisted that deprivation did “not determine these results”, warning that many well-off counties contained large numbers of failing schools.

Many state schools serving relatively wealthy communities were accused of “coasting”.

Oxfordshire, the East Riding of Yorkshire, Shropshire and Staffordshire were named among the bottom fifth of local councils despite having significantly fewer poor pupils than the national average.

In all these areas, at least four-in-10 primary schools were considered to be underperforming, Ofsted said.

By comparison, the best-performing area was London’s Camden, where fewer than one-in-10 schools were failing, even though the borough contains more poor households than almost any other part of the country.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, the chief inspector of schools, said there was a danger that schools were “coasting simply because they’ve got a significant number of children not on free school meals”.

He said Ofsted would seek to “shine a spotlight on parts of the country” that are consistently underperforming, including those councils featuring failing schools in “nice, prosperous, affluent” areas.

Inspectors have the power to shop failing councils to the Department for Education which can forcibly convert schools into independent academies or parachute in private contractors to run area-wide education services.

“It is absolutely a postcode lottery and we are never going to get a world class system unless we reduce these wide variations,” Sir Michael said.

The annual report was based on an analysis of all schools in England during the 2011/12 academic year.

Ofsted reported overall improvements in the last few years, with 70 per cent of schools now rated good or outstanding compared with 64 per cent five years ago.

An extra half a million pupils are now being in taught in good or better schools, it said.

But it also meant that almost 2.3 million children were still attending a “small minority” of schools that are no better than satisfactory, Ofsted said.

In these schools, lessons are often “formulaic”, with classes being turned into a “lecture” in which teachers talk for too long without questioning pupils.

This can lead to “low-level disruption”, Ofsted said.

The report also warned that an overall rise in the performance of England’s schools masked significant challenges for the education system.

It raised serious concerns about the “marked inequality of access” to a good school across the country.

More at:  Ofsted warns over ‘postcode lottery’ in school standards

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Where to find the best secondary schools, as rated by Ofsted
Categories: Local authorities.

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