Four in five outstanding schools are downgraded in crackdown on low standards, Ofsted reveals 

Four in five outstanding schools are downgraded in crackdown on low standards, Ofsted reveals

  • Some of the supposedly excellent schools had not been inspected for 15 years
  • Until 2020 Ofsted was blocked from re-inspecting outstanding-rated schools
  • Chief inspector said the drop in standards shows impact of removing scrutiny 
  • London schools Pimlico Academy and Holland Park among those downgraded

Four-fifths of ‘outstanding’ schools inspected last year were downgraded and one in 20 are now rated ‘inadequate’, Ofsted has revealed.

The schools watchdog marked down hundreds of schools recently in a crackdown on sloppy standards.

Some of the supposedly excellent schools had not been inspected for 15 years, potentially leading to complacency.

Ofsted launched its task force when it re-acquired its powers to inspect outstanding-rated schools in 2020.

Previously, it was legally blocked from doing so because the government wanted to free top schools from the burden of inspection.

Ofsted said yesterday the dramatic drop in standards showed ‘removing a school from scrutiny does not make it better’.

Among those downgraded was Holland Park in Kensington, west London (pictured). The state school known as 'the socialist Eton' is now classed 'inadequate'.

Among those downgraded was Holland Park in Kensington, west London (pictured). The state school known as ‘the socialist Eton’ is now classed ‘inadequate’.

A total of 385 ‘outstanding’ schools were re-inspected in 2021/22, with 308 – 80 per cent – downgraded.

Most were ‘good’, but 17 per cent received ‘requires improvement’ and 4 per cent were ‘inadequate’.

When selecting schools for inspection, Ofsted prioritised those that had gone longest without being checked. For some that was 15 years although the average was 13 years. Many will have experienced significant change, including a new headteacher or governors.

Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman, said: ‘Regular inspection gives parents confidence in the quality of their child’s school.

Ofsted's chief inspector, Amanda Spielman (pictured), said the dramatic drop in standards showed 'removing a school from scrutiny does not make it better'

Ofsted’s chief inspector, Amanda Spielman (pictured), said the dramatic drop in standards showed ‘removing a school from scrutiny does not make it better’

‘Exempting outstanding schools deprived parents of up-to-date information. It also left a lot of schools without the constructive challenge that regular inspection provides.

‘The exemption was a policy founded on the hope that high standards, once achieved, would never drop, and that freedom from inspection might drive them higher.

‘These outcomes show that removing a school from scrutiny does not make it better.’

Among those downgraded were the Pimlico Academy in south London, where pupils walked out in protest at ‘discriminatory’ uniform rules last year, and Holland Park in Kensington, west London. The state school known as ‘the socialist Eton’ is now classed ‘inadequate’.

Top grammar schools also got downgraded to ‘good’, including Tiffin boys’ in Kingston, south-west London.

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