Four out of five Ofsted-rated outstanding schools were downgraded when re-inspected last year as fears grow that some are trading on ageing reputations
- Mere 16 per cent of primary and secondary schools retained the top accolade
- Schools boasting outstanding reputation are exempt from routine inspections
- But there is a growing fear among parents that these labels are out of date
- Ofsted’s chief inspector said the new figures should ‘set alarm bells ringing’
Ofsted has warned parents cannot have confidence in some outstanding-rated schools because they have not been inspected for so long.
Until last year, 296 schools had not been visited by the schools inspectorate for more than a decade because they had the highest possible rating.
But this academic year, the watchdog has launched a crackdown over fears that standards were slipping in those schools.
And of the 305 outstanding-rated schools they visited between September and March this year, 84 per cent were downgraded.
Among those schools that were re-inspected, 54 per cent were downgraded to good, while 25 per cent were found to require improvement and five per cent were rated inadequate.
The sample, which represents eight per cent of all outstanding-rated schools, was not representative as they were all schools where there was cause to suspect the top award was no longer valid.
However, it proves parents should in future be suspicious of outstanding-rated schools which have not been inspected for a number of years.
The reason why Ofsted does not routinely inspect outstanding-rated schools is a government-imposed exception aimed at letting them ‘get on with their good work’.
Amanda Spielman, the watchdog’s chief inspector, said the downgrading of outstanding schools should ‘set alarm bells ringing’
But Amanda Spielman, chief inspector of schools, wants this exemption lifted.
She 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, and when our inspectors go back in, they sometimes find standards have significantly declined.
‘We believe most schools judged outstanding are still doing outstanding work.
‘But for the outstanding grade to be properly meaningful and a genuine beacon of excellence, the exemption should be lifted and Ofsted resourced to routinely inspect these schools.’