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Last Updated: Friday, 6 February, 2004, 13:26 GMT
Ofsted to name struggling schools
Publication is "in the interests of transparency", Ofsted says
Education watchdog Ofsted is to start publishing lists of all schools in England judged to be weak or failing.

It made the announcement as it revealed a big jump last term in the number of schools needing "special measures" - 90, compared with 54 in autumn 2002.

The names of those schools - and of all schools and sixth forms causing concern - will be published later this month.

The biggest teachers' union, the NUT, called it a return to the "damaging" policy of "naming and shaming".


The rise last term is attributed mainly to a tougher new inspection regime, for which the chief inspector, David Bell, said he made "no apologies".

Underachieving: in effect, "coasting along" - providing satisfactory education and may even appear to have very high standards, but not doing as well as comparable schools
Serious Weaknesses: closely monitored by inspectors for satisfactory progress on issues in action plan, with local education authority support. If problems not resolved may trigger Special Measures
Special Measures: problems so severe they require a detailed plan of action with a timetable for improvements, with local education authority support. School monitored over the next two years and re-inspected then either removed from special measures or can be closed by the secretary of state
Inadequate: sixth form equivalent of Special Measures
The School Standards Minister, David Miliband, said: "The rise since September 2003 in the number of schools in special measures is linked to the new inspection framework where a school may go into special measures if it has 10% unsatisfactory teaching, compared with 20% in the past.

"As David Bell has emphasised, it is right that we now have higher expectations of schools' performance to drive forward improvement throughout the education system."

Ofsted's figures showed a 10% rise in the total number in special measures, from 282 to 311, during last term - that is, 1.4% of all schools compared with 1.2%.

Special measures means a school gets additional outside intervention and support, albeit with a two-year deadline to improve or face closure. Eight were closed during the autumn.


Mr Bell accentuated the positive.

Ofsted's work with schools in special measures has consistently led to improvement
Chief inspector, David Bell
He said the number of schools that had come out of special measures also rose by 10% - from 48 to 53.

"The percentage of schools in special measures remains low overall. However, there is no denying the fact that the autumn term saw a significant increase in the number of schools going into special measures, compared to the same period last year.

"Ofsted's work with schools in special measures has consistently led to improvement and we shall continue to take a rigorous approach to inspection and play our part in driving forward improvement throughout the education system," he said.

He added: "In the interests of public transparency Ofsted plans to release the numbers and names of schools subject to special measures, schools with inadequate sixth forms, schools with serious weaknesses and underachieving schools on a termly basis."

The first full release, covering autumn term 2003, will be issued later this month.

Individual schools' inspection reports are all published - parents get a summary and can buy a copy of the full report from the school, and the report is made available to all on the Ofsted website some months later.

But publishing a national list of those in trouble is a new departure.


The head of education at the NUT, John Bangs, said: "It's a reversion to a policy that was abandoned due to its damaging impact both on the schools' ability to attract pupils and to deliver education and turn themselves around."

It made it harder to recruit teachers.

"Naming and shaming was abandoned by [former education secretary] David Blunkett after it had proved to be so damaging to the recovery of the school."

It created an "atmosphere of threat", he said.

Liberal Democrat education spokesman Phil Willis said: "It is time for Ofsted to stop living in its ivory tower and begin campaigning for the staffing and resources schools need to offer all children a high quality education.

"The report reveals that shortage of specialist staff in key areas still remains a critical problem.

"Criticising schools, but not the government, will achieve precious little."

School type Total in August New in autumn Removed in autumn Closed in autumn Total at year end
Primary 185 56 41 4 196
Secondary 58 30 6 82
Special 25 2 3 2 22
Pupil referral unit 14 2 3 2 11
Total 282 90 53 8 311
Source: Ofsted

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