Sunderland education chiefs slam school inspection changes

Sharon Hodgson MP. Credit:  Gary Lee /UPPA/Photoshot
Sharon Hodgson MP. Credit: Gary Lee /UPPA/Photoshot
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EDUCATION leaders in Sunderland have hit out at new Ofsted ratings.

The education body has revealed a shake-up to the system, which will now see a good rating to be the minimum expected of a school.

The satisfactory rating will no longer be seen as adequate.

In Sunderland, 60 per cent of schools are rated either good or outstanding, compared to the national average of almost 70 per cent.

But Mike Johnson, Sunderland secretary of NASUWT, National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, reacted angrily to the change.

He said: “All schools wish to be good or better. All teachers wish to deliver a good education. By redefining the scale to exclude satisfactory from its range of standards and demanding that all schools produce good educational standards or better, is merely posturing.

“Teachers and schools need support to achieve their best. The Government however, has sought to dismantle local education authorities by reducing funding and forcing local authorities to make staff redundant and thus reduce the possible source of genuine support for schools and teachers.”

Sharon Hodgson, MP for Washington and Sunderland West and Shadow Education Minister, added: “Simply changing the Ofsted classifications isn’t enough.

“Heads and teachers are already striving to get the best results for their pupils. Unfortunately, the Government is putting those efforts at risk, with teacher numbers falling and money which could be used to boost performance in all schools being wasted on pet projects.”

Ofsted said it is raising the bar for inspections and the key changes from September are:

l To be judged outstanding a school must have outstanding teaching and not just meet the grade in other areas.

l A new grade “requires improvement” replaces the “satisfactory” grade.

l Schools will be notified of an inspection by telephone the afternoon before, so inspectors will see schools as they really are.

Coun Pat Smith, portfolio holder for children’s services in Sunderland, said: “All of our schools have a commitment to providing pupils with the best possible standards of education and have continuous improvement at the centre of their planning regardless of their current Ofsted gradings.

“Ofsted already recognise that 60 per cent of our schools are good or outstanding, and we will continue to support all of our schools to achieve similar recognition.

“While Ofsted’s announcement will only add to demands faced by schools already having to cope with increasing pressures, we appreciate what these new guidelines are trying to achieve and prepared to respond accordingly.”

Twitter: @sunechoschools