Press Releases

PRESS RELEASE : Schools should ensure that all pupils achieve their best [September 2012]

The press release issued by the Department for Education on 20 September 2012.

The reports, ‘Getting to good’, ‘The pupil premium’ and initial data from the forthcoming report ‘Early entry to GCSE examinations’ were presented at a press briefing, where Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw talked about the importance of all children receiving a good education and the need for schools to focus on both ends of the ability and achievement spectrum.

He also set out how Ofsted’s new structure will support schools to get to good, or outstanding.

Children and young people have only one chance of a good education. Yet today, over two million pupils attend 6,000 schools that are less than good. I make no apology for scrapping satisfactory – only good is good enough to ensure that our schools can compete with the rest of the world.

Take a typical good secondary school and a typical school judged satisfactory at its last inspection. In the good school, many more of the high achieving pupils from primary school are likely to achieve an A or B grade in maths and English GCSE. If they miss out in the satisfactory school, then this shuts the door on these subjects at A level, and in turn access to the top universities.

Meeting the needs of every pupil is the difference between a good school and a weak school.

Getting to good
Published today, the report ‘Getting to good: how headteachers achieve success’, looks at the key steps taken by headteachers in schools that have improved from satisfactory to good or better. While each school is unique, there are common features of the journey to good that all schools can learn from.

Headteachers with a successful track record of leading schools from being judged satisfactory, to becoming good or better are absolutely clear that improving teaching and learning is at the heart of what needs to be done, they communicate their high expectations of staff and pupils effectively, and they lead by example, modelling the behaviour they want from their staff. They also know that to build capacity and sustain improvement they need robust performance management that holds staff to account for their leadership and teaching.

From now on, Ofsted will expect schools to improve within four years to a good standard, but will also be more proactive in supporting and challenging schools to secure the necessary improvements. Her Majesty’s Inspectors will be assigned to schools that require improvement to ensure that they progress to a good standard. No later than 4 years after they have been judged to require improvement, inspectors will make a decision about whether the school has improved sufficiently or is placed in special measures.

All schools that are not yet good have been sent a guide that highlights recent Ofsted best practice and survey reports. The booklet is designed to help schools learn from what works and draws attention to the characteristics of outstanding provision.

Pupil premium
Also published today, the report ‘The pupil premium’ looks at how schools are using pupil premium funding to raise achievement and improve outcomes for disadvantaged pupils.

From this month, the government requires schools to publish online information about how they have used the premium.

The survey found that many schools did not disaggregate the pupil premium from their main budget, and said that they were using the funding to maintain or enhance existing provision rather than to put in place new activity. Half of the schools surveyed said the pupil premium was making little or no difference to the way they work.

The report also found that the most common use of the pupil premium funding was to pay for teaching assistants. Over two fifths of school leaders said they used the Pupil Premium to fund existing or new teaching assistants. Proportionally this was higher in primary schools.

In future Ofsted will be critical of schools that are not achieving well for their disadvantaged pupils, and will want to know how they are spending the pupil premium, how this is making a difference for their disadvantaged pupils, and how they are being held to account for this spending by their governors.

Early entry to GCSE examinations
Due to be published soon, the report ‘Early entry to GCSE examinations’ found that the number of pupils entered early in English and maths has increased significantly in the last six years. Over a third of all pupils are now entered early for these exams – more than 200,000 in each of maths and English.

Pupils who were high achieving at the end of primary school were less likely to achieve an A or A* if they sat their exams early. In both English and maths, there is a more than ten percentage points difference for these pupils in the achievement of A grades between those who were entered early and those who were not.