New drive to boost standards in schools

6 September 2019

In June, we reported concerns that the exemption from routine Ofsted inspection granted to outstanding schools was leaving some uninspected for several years during which standards could fall (see “Outstanding schools losing their rating”).

Now the recently appointed Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, has announced that this exemption is to be lifted so that parents can be confident their children’s schools are continuing to deliver the best education.

The Department for Education (DfE) will consult on how best to do this and, subject to parliamentary approval, bring these schools back into a regular inspection cycle.

Mr Williamson has also unveiled plans to increase the level of support available to some of the most challenging “requires improvement” schools – those that have not been good in over a decade in multiple inspections – by giving hundreds of them more help from experienced school leaders and evidence-based support programmes and working with Ofsted so that it can provide more detailed analysis on areas for improvement.

Announcing a whole series of measure to help struggling schools, tackle underperformance and ensure standards continue to rise, he also said that a new academy trust would be piloted “in the north”.

This will be specifically established to take on the most challenging schools, where there is no other local academy trust with sufficient capacity available, offering support from directors with a proven track record of turning around underperforming schools.

The strongest academy trusts will be helped to expand into areas of weak capacity and where improvement is most needed, the Education Secretary said.

He also plans to expand the School Resource Management programme to ensure the extra funding provided to schools is focused on delivering better outcomes for pupils, reducing wasteful expenditure and improving efficiency.

Finally, Mr Williamson promised to work with Ofsted to ensure all reports also include a rating for financial management and oversight within the school, academy, college or trust in order to ensure best practice is shared across the sector.