[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 February, 2005, 11:15 GMT
One in 10 schools 'not improving'
David Bell visiting a school
David Bell has been giving his "warts and all" appraisal
About 10% of England's schools are not making "sufficient progress", according to the chief inspector, David Bell.

In his annual report, he said standards were continuing to rise, but a tenth of schools - equivalent to more than 2,000 - "have not improved enough".

Inspectors also found that pupils' behaviour was unsatisfactory in 9% of secondary schools.

Mr Bell warned there was too much variation in performance between schools serving similar areas.

And warning that he "made no apologies for pushing hard", Mr Bell said there were still too many failing schools - with more than 300 schools in "special measures", an increase on the proportion of failing schools last year.

Bad behaviour

Both the government and the Conservatives have put classroom discipline into the political spotlight this week - and Mr Bell's report highlighted a decline in good behaviour in secondary schools.

graph charting decline in behaviour
Ofsted has noted declining good behaviour over recent years
"The proportion of schools in which behaviour overall is good or better has fallen from over three-quarters five years ago to just over two-thirds," said Mr Bell.

"Over the same period, the proportion where behaviour is unsatisfactory, at just under one in 10 schools, has not reduced."

This should not be seen as a picture of "schools in chaos", Mr Bell cautioned, because most schools maintain a "stable and orderly environment" and for some pupils "school is the most stable place in their life".

But he warned that a "small number of pupils causing disruption can cause a disproportionate effect" and that schools had to cope with pupils whose life out of school was "disorganised and dishevilled".

However he said there was no evidence that the policy of "inclusion", in which pupils with special needs were encouraged to be taught in mainstream schools, was contributing to problems with behaviour.

Addressing the problem of schools which were failing to make satisfactory progress, Mr Bell promised more inspections and called for more support from local authorities.

"Where progress is not vigorous enough, we'll be back in those schools again ... We can't be satisfied to have so many schools in any category of underperformance," he said.

'No complacency'

And he said that struggling schools should not be allowed to lag behind, when there were outstanding schools in tough areas which were were managing to achieve high results.

John King
The key part of our job is raising children's aspirations
John King, head teacher

Mr Bell said that a rise in the number of schools in special measures reflected that school inspections had been more rigorous under a new framework.

"As the performance of schools has improved over the years, it is only right that we should have higher expectations.

"Not to do so would be to condemn youngsters to a standard of education that might have been acceptable 10 years ago but is clearly no longer so."

The School Standards Minister, Stephen Twigg, said: "The report gives us no room to be complacent. I am determined that we must break the link between disadvantage and achievement."

Success factors

Particular successes included better care and education for young children, a "strong cadre" of head teachers, better school self-evaluation, more flexibility in the curriculum for 14 to 16-year-olds and the continuing success of sixth form colleges.

Mr Bell said four factors were underpinning long-term improvement.

The first was "a widely-held recognition that education needs to be broad and balanced: nurturing pupils as individuals while preparing them to fulfil their responsibilities and appreciate society's diversity".

Better childcare was the second factor. The others were the education sector's "ambitions to do better and to tackle failure".

Poor literacy

In primary schools, pupils' attitudes to school were "almost always positive" and behaviour was good.

The proportion of schools where teaching was "only satisfactory" or unsatisfactory was slightly higher than last year, at just over a quarter.

There was "a pressing need" to tackle poor literacy and numeracy levels among children in their first year of secondary school, said the report.

In colleges the quality of provision was slightly better than the previous year, "but the pace of improvement is slow and there has been an increase in the proportion of colleges judged inadequate".

Mr Bell upset the college sector last November when he said the failure rate of England's further education colleges was "a national disgrace".

Give the power back to the teachers and I'm sure disruption will be a thing of the past
Phillip Holley, UK, Cambs

Shadow Education Secretary Tim Collins said that the report showed that the government had "failed the test".

"Conservatives are convinced that schools which perform poorly in their teaching assessment are those with the worst discipline record.

"It is therefore no surprise that Ruth Kelly has decided raise this problem just weeks before an election - having ignored it for nearly eight years. We will not make the same mistake."

  • Ofsted's annual report should be available in full via its website. This year it is not offering a PDF download.

    Hear the chief inspector's views on schools

    'Best of the best' schools named
    02 Feb 05 |  Education
    Plan for 'zero' lesson disruption
    01 Feb 05 |  Politics
    Ofsted Muslim schools row goes on
    28 Jan 05 |  Education
    Failing colleges 'are a disgrace'
    29 Nov 04 |  Education

    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


    News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
    UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
    Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
    Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific