Ofsted report on Shropshire schools 'misleading' say critics

Major concerns have been raised over Government criticism of Shropshire’s primary schools, with opponents claiming a new report gives a ‘misleading picture’ to parents.

The criticism comes after an Ofsted report listed both Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin councils in the bottom 25 local authorities for the percentage of primary school pupils attending a school rated as either ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’.

Only 59 per cent of pupils in Shropshire attend primaries rated in these two categories, with just 53 per cent doing so in Telford & Wrekin – which represents the fifth worst record in the entire country.

But the report has been criticised by local councillors and a teaching union.

Shropshire Council said the figures, which assessed local authority performance up to August, were out of date – with 64 per cent of children now attending good or outstanding schools.

And Telford & Wrekin Council cabinet member Paul Watling, said the authority was ‘disappointed’ that Ofsted had chosen to publish this information as it had because it gave a misleading picture to parents.

“In Telford and Wrekin we have no primary schools at all below Government floor standards in performance in English and maths,” he said. “Currently we have just one that is judged with the category ‘notice to improve’.”

The Ofsted report comes after a tougher inspection regime was launched in September, with the previous ‘satisfactory’ grade being replaced with a ‘requires improvement’ assessment.

The figures puts Shropshire Council in the bottom 25 of the table of local authorities. Out of 150 local authorities assessed, Shropshire Council was 128th, with Telford & Wrekin 146th.

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw said many schools across the country were letting pupils and parents down.

But Shropshire Council’s lead member for learning and skills Celia Motley said: “We are determined to support our schools so they can continue to improve.

“However, we have to acknowledge that schools in Shropshire are the seventh lowest-funded in the country.”

By Chris Burn

Comments for: "Ofsted report on Shropshire schools 'misleading' say critics"

Bill

“In Telford and Wrekin we have no primary schools at all below Government floor standards in performance in English and maths,”

Does this mean 'floor standards' or to use a mathematical term, 'lowest common denominator' teaching is now seen as an acceptable standard in Telford? Equality of non-opportunity?

No wonder local businesses complain of skills deficiency when they have jobs on offer.

I'm sure there are many excellent teachers out there who could do more for their pupils if political interference and central diktat were stopped.

Robin Hood

I agree wholeheartedly Bill with your comments about political interference and central diktat.

We have a Government that claims to be cutting red tape but which is, in fact, allowing its Secretary of State for Education to bring in more and more, higher and higher hoops for schools to jump through and increasingly complex and time-consuming performance management regimes.

You add to that the amount of PR nonsense that surrounds "parental choice" which takes more time and resources away from teaching. Some schools shut early on the afternoon of their school open days - prioritising attracting new pupils over educating the ones they already have etc etc.

Roger

It's not rocket science is it? The seventh lowest funded schools in the country are not as good as the best funded.

If you let the schools become academies they will increase funding and the schools will improve. OFSTEAD have a hidden agenda set by their political masters to encourage academies and discourage County Council involvement as the first stage of privatisation of education. It is not therefore surprising that lowly funded council controlled schools are targeted. Or that the county councils are found to be lacking.

What have OFSTEAD said about funding. Have they compared performance and funding? That would be useful. Who set the standard and who justified the four box system?

OFSTEAD Have lost all credibility. We should be pressing for every school child in Shropshire to be as well funded as any other child in this country. Let’s go to causes instead of effects. Let's take the politics out of education reform and start doing things for the right reasons - the children.

Waterboy8535

This is just another weapon that Mr (i'm a complete tool) Gove wants to use to turn all our schools into his blessed Acadamies, so he can be seen to be great.

An example of the government meddling is as follows: My girlfriends school used to get £40,000 to help towards childrens education. They are NOT an Acadamy by the way. Next the government stops paying them the £40,000 but instead provides an individual payment for kids that are entitled to free school meals.

Her school has a high proportion of free school meal kids, and conveniently this amount comes to about £40,000, meaning that the school is now back to where it was.

However, the government wants the school to prove that the school is using the personal child payment is used to help that childs individual schooling!!!!

What is the school supposed to do? Hold on kids, those that pay for their food will lose a teacher and some books etc whilst those on free school meals who therefore must be stupid will get extra teachers and the better equipment!!

Why are kids from poor homes automatically deemed to be less intelligent than those kids whose parents pay for meals? Do we have to teach the poor families seperately so they only have use of the money?

Or does the school try and do the same for all, and then have to figure out a way to massage the figures later?

Kids are entitled to the same quality of teaching, whether rich, ok or poor.

And the governemt should stop meddling and trying to force schools into being acadamies for their own political ends

Miss Trunchbull

One of the comments on another story refers to comments from a T&W Cabinet member as being offensive. The dismissive attitude of Cllr Watling is also offensive and arrogant.

The figures may not be 100% accurate but there must be a fair amount of truth behind them - the facts are plain to see.

From the Ofsted table T&W has 54 primary schools of which 7 are rated outstanding, 21 good, 26 satisfactory/need improvements/inadequate.

The figures for the whole of England are 18% outstanding, 51% good, 31% satisfactory/need improvements/inadequate. If T&W fitted the average (that's merely 'average', nothing to be proud of) pattern we would have just 17 schools in the lower category. We've currently got 26 (or 48%) AND the position has got worse over the past 3 years.

Watling & Co need to get off Planet Denial and tell us how they intend to put this dire situation right. The education of our young kids has a direct bearing on the future prosperity of the area - it cannot just be dismissed in this way.

Roger

You too have fallen for the four box con. You can discuss Outstanding and Good as separate numbers but Satisfactory has to be lumped in with Needs Improvement and Inadequate. Clearly Satisfactory is satisfactory but Needs Improvement or Inadequate is not satisfactory.

The titles reflect the old five box system where Satisfactory is a band within which lies normality with Good and Outstanding being awarded to the high achievers. Needs Improvement and Inadequate equally informs us of how far below the norm a school is judged to be. Now with the four box system a demarcation of 1% in awarded points can change a school from Good to Needs Improvement. So grey disappears to the contrasts of black and white. It also means that if Good continues to mean the same thing Needs Improvement means above average in half the cases and below average the other half. It does not however tell anyone whether a school is above or below average so fails to inform the reader of the one thing they need to know. It also raises the bar on where Inadequate now falls. A School in need of improvement last year becomes inadequate even if it has marginally improved.

This means that the system has become so skewed by the changes as to become meaningless to the parents which it was intended to inform. OFSTEAD have therefore failed in their purpose and are now irrelevant to the debate. They label the above average schools as in need of improvement.

Statistically any means of measurement which is subjective must have a margin of error. This can be the differences between the examiners personal preferences or which day of the week the school is inspected and even a teacher off sick. We know that in some cases the inspections are skewed by the schools to ensure that their best face is on view for the prior notice inspections and the inspectors are aware of this. That was why we need the satisfactory box so that these effects can be accommodated within a margin. The difference between Good and Needs Improvement could be down to the way the inspector’s egg was fried in the hotel that Breakfast time.

Miss Trunchbull

OK - let's turn it round then and get round the muddy waters that Ofsted have created with the lower ratings ...

On average, for England as a whole 69% of primary schools are rated outstanding or good.

If T&W were reaching this average benchmark, they would have 37 out of their 54 schools with these ratings. We've only got 28, which looks to me like a pretty significant under-performance.