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News - 26 July 2013

Dozens of 'outstanding' schools downgraded

More than 100 schools, reinspected since September, who had previously been rated "outstanding" by Ofsted inspectors have lost their top rankings after changes to the system in England.

Lavinia Newman, founder of ABDS comments:
“In the past, it was possible to be rated "outstanding" even though inspectors judged that teaching and learning was not the highest standard. But that was changed in September, when other new rules also came in.”

The latest figures show that out of 155 schools inspected since last September which had previously been rated outstanding overall but not for teaching and learning, fewer than a third - 44 schools - kept that ranking.

Of the others, 91 schools were rated "good", while 20 were told they needed to improve. Two of this last group were given the lowest rating of "inadequate".

A spokesperson for OFSTED said
"It makes sense that outstanding schools should have outstanding teaching - parents expect that. This doesn't mean that every lesson needs to be outstanding but, over time, schools must show outstanding teaching is helping pupils make excellent progress."

However, the spokeswoman added that other factors, apart from the quality of teaching, may have contributed to the downgrading of the 111 schools.

Outstanding schools no longer have to be inspected regularly, while schools categorised as "good" are checked at least every five years.

For outstanding schools, Ofsted says it carries out a risk assessment which includes checks on schools' exam or test results, and if there are any causes for concern, inspectors are sent in. A change such as the addition of a sixth form would also lead to a new check.

Jan Webber, inspection specialist for the head teachers' group ASCL (Association of School and College Leaders), said Ofsted had made it clear that there was to be a greater focus on teaching quality, so the loss of some outstanding rankings was "not surprising".

At its Easter conference, the National Union of Teachers called for Ofsted chief Sir Michael  Wilshaw to resign, saying he was demoralising the profession. It also pledged to continue a campaign for the abolition of Ofsted.

Christine Blower, the general secretary of the NUT said: "By constantly changing the goal posts of what constitutes a good or outstanding school it makes it very difficult for schools to reach the targets imposed by Ofsted and government.

  • Overall, 70% of schools in England are rated either good or outstanding.
  • One in five of all schools was rated outstanding in August last year - about 4,400.
  • Of those, one in four does not have the top ranking for teaching and learning.

If you need any help and advice with Free School or Academy Schools, contact Lavinia Newman or Peter Ham now to discuss how ABDS can help bring their experience to these matters.

ABDS Chartered Certified Accountants of Southampton.
Tel: 023 8083 6900  E-mail:

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