Schools in the UK regulated by OFSTED will only be able to achieve an OUTSTANDING rating in the future if the quality of teaching is outstanding. In the past, schools were able to achieve an overall outstanding rating when they were predominantly outstanding in other areas (such as health & safety) but not in teaching. In the future, OFSTED will focus on three key areas starting in January 2012, namely pupils’ behaviour, the quality of teaching, and children’s ability to read. 13% of schools in the UK are currently rated as outstanding, with a further 43% rated as good, and it is expected that the share of outstanding schools will drop following the changes, although one should expect some other schools with very good teaching to benefit from this shift.
This is in response to criticism that OFSTED focused too much on areas that might matter less to parents and pupils’ achievement, such as implementing fire drill regulations. An example is that the Hill House School failed its Ofsted inspection in 2009 due to failure to implement certain health and safety regulations.
I think this is great news for parents, as it seems the government is very intent on increasing teaching quality in state schools. Along with the free school initiative, it will improve opportunities for parental choice and transparency over the quality of education in the state sector. For independent schools, I think it means more competition from the state sector, which especially in time of economic stagnation/recession, will mean they will have to step up and work hard to stay an attractive alternative. Of course the Wetherby’s and Colet Courts of will be fine, but a lot of smaller or less outstanding independent schools will really have to work hard to justify their fees.
Maybe this can reduce the inflation in school fees and also improve alternatives in the state sector for parents, and this can only be good news for our readers! I am following all national rankings, inspections and league tables closely on this blog so I can’t wait to observe how this changes the landscape over the next years.