Top Ofsted rating for many SEN schools – so why aren’t we trumpeting success?

Writing in the Guardian, Laura McInerney says that last term 35% of special schools visited by Ofsted inspectors received an “outstanding” grade… but no one seemed to notice.

Mainstream schools were far less successful – only 9% received the top rating. Yet, when free schools pulled the tiniest bit ahead of this, the celebratory roar within government was deafening. BBC Question Time became a weekly propaganda fest; press releases flowed from the Department for Education.

When the schools serving our most vulnerable children more than trebled that rate there was not a whisper. No minister touted the fact. There was not even a line of celebration in Ofsted’s annual report…

Talking with special school headteachers, many say that being ignored is what has made them so successful…

That’s the rose-tinted interpretation – and it’s one I want to believe. But there is a potential alternative explanation.

When I spoke to parents of children with special needs, several wondered if the higher Ofsted grades were a function of less rigorous expectations on special schools…

No one wants to believe this version. I certainly don’t. If we did, we’d have to accept that a group of people working their socks off in difficult conditions might not be doing such a good a job as we need them to.

Adjudicating between the two hypotheses is almost impossible though…

A search for reports on special schools to resolve the conundrum draws a blank. While Ofsted writes thematic reports about what it sees in schools – in the last few years there have been reports on hair and beauty teaching, citizenship, and issues of special needs in mainstream schools – I can find nothing specifically about special schools…

More at: Top Ofsted rating for many SEN schools – so why aren’t we trumpeting success?

 

What do you think of Laura McInerney’s two possible explanations for the high number of special schools getting “outstanding”? Is either wholly correct? Please let us know how you see things in the comments or via Twitter…

 

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Categories: Policy.

Comments

  1. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove The reason this isn’t announced from the rooftops of parliament is that special schools aren’t the result of new govt policy

  2. andylutwyche

    SchoolsImprove Had special schools been introduced by the coalition then you wouldn’t be able to move for column inches. Fickle politicians

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