Only 16% of outstanding primary and secondary schools inspected this academic year retained their top Ofsted rating according to official statistics.

Although, by law, outstanding primary and secondary schools are exempt from routine inspection, they can be checked if Ofsted has concerns about their performance.

Noting that some schools have been exempt for so long that parents can no longer have confidence in their outstanding grade, Ofsted has substantially increased the number of exempt outstanding schools it inspected this academic year.

Given most of these inspections are carried out because the school’s performance appears to be declining, Ofsted said that it was not surprising that a large proportion should lose the top grading and stressed that the schools inspected are not typical of all outstanding schools.

However, only 49 of 305 (16%) exempt schools inspected so far this academic year have remained outstanding, compared to 49 of 150 (33%) such schools inspected between 1 September 2017 and 31 August 2018.

Among those schools that lost the top rating, 166 were judged to be good (54%), while 76 were found to require improvement (25%) and 14 were actually rated inadequate (5%).

Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman said: “Today’s figures are not particularly surprising, but they should still set alarm bells ringing. The fact that outstanding schools are largely exempt from inspection leaves us with real gaps in our knowledge about the quality of education and safeguarding in these schools.”

Some of them have not been inspected for over a decade, she pointed out, and when Ofsted inspectors return they sometimes find standards have significantly declined.

While most schools judged outstanding are still doing work of that quality, Ms Spielman concluded, the grade should be a genuine beacon of excellence and the exemption should therefore be lifted, with Ofsted resourced to routinely inspect these schools.

Further information is available at GOV.UK.

Last reviewed 26 June 2019