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Last Updated: Monday, 11 February 2008, 14:28 GMT
Failing school numbers unchanged
classroom scene
Ministers and inspectors are keeping up the pressure on schools
The number of schools in England that are judged to be failing has barely changed for three years, figures show.

At the end of 2007, 245 schools were in "special measures" against 243 in 2006 and 244 in 2005, 1.1% of the total.

Ofsted said the failure rate was down as a percentage of all inspections. The government says there must be "no hiding places" for underperformance.

The number told to improve jumped from 120 in 2005 to 366 in 2006 with tougher inspections, and has fallen to 305.

The termly publication by the inspectorate of these "schools causing concern" statistics allows for only limited analysis of a trend because in September 2005 the inspection system was changed.

There are now only two categories of schools causing concern as a result of inspection visits:

  • subject to special measures - those that "were failing to give their pupils an acceptable standard of education and in which the persons responsible for leading, managing or governing the school were not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement in the school".
  • requiring significant improvement - "performing significantly less well than they might in all the circumstances reasonably be expected to perform". They are issued with a notice to improve.
Of the 245 that were in special measures at the end of the autumn term, 181 were primary schools, 47 secondary, nine special schools and nine PRUs (pupil referral units, for misbehaving youngsters).

Those given notice to improve included 203 primaries, 86 secondaries, seven special schools and 10 PRUs.

A spokeswoman for Ofsted said that 3.7% of the 2,751 schools inspected in 2004-05 were placed in special measures.

In 2005-06 it was 2.7% of 6,129 schools inspected. And last year it was 2.2% of the 6,848 schools inspected.

Schools Minister, Andrew Adonis said: "While we have made significant progress on reducing the number of failing schools we intend to redouble our efforts to ensure every young person gets the highest quality education."

He added: “We are continuing to raise the bar in standards expected from our schools, not just in failing schools.

"No school should be inadequate and there should be no hiding places for underperformance or coasting."

Further changes

Ofsted has warned schools of further changes from September 2009.

Almost half could face annual checks, Ofsted's target being those that are struggling.

Under current rules, schools are inspected every three years and receive two days' notice of a visit.

But under the latest shake-up, schools judged by inspectors to be satisfactory or inadequate would receive more regular visits, chief inspector Christine Gilbert told a head teachers' conference.

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08 Feb 08 |  Education
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17 Oct 07 |  Education
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22 Nov 06 |  Education
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25 Nov 06 |  Education
Extent of school failure disputed
17 Oct 06 |  Education

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