Regular readers will be aware this blog has been looking at the can of worms opened up by the serious assault on two teachers at Burwood School.
We return to the subject today following a story in today’s Guardian, which explains:
The Ofsted rating of “satisfactory” for schools – widely regarded as a euphemism for a poor school – is to be scrapped, the new chief inspector of schools, Sir Michael Wilshaw, will propose as he outlines new plans to tackle “coasting schools”.
Granted, the Guardian’s angle with the story is to put forward the teaching unions’ narrative about this being another mechanism designed to shoehorn schools into Academy status. But it nevertheless highlights an issue with Ofsted’s school inspections that is evidenced by the two most recent reports submitted about Burwood – one of the 28% of schools given one of these ‘Satisfactory’ ratings.
The Wilshaw proposals, that schools must demonstrate improvement over the course of two more inspections over a three-year period or face going into special measures, would have signalled greater focus at Burwood before the attack took place. Burwood School’s 2011 Ofsted rating overall was ‘satisfactory’ as you can see below…
But this is no different to the inspection rating in 2009, where a separate inspector also gave Burwood a ‘satisfactory’ rating. At the time, with the school emerging from special measures, the inspector described Burwood as a rapidly improving school.
Although the two reports do not present the key criteria in a like for like fashion (ensuring it is difficult to establish a benchmark to judge future performance – update… and a tweeter advises that the criteria has changed again from 1st January this year) what we can see is that there were items in the 2009 report, shown below, rated ‘2’ or ‘good’. After that 2009 report it seems the rapid improvement arrested. By 2011 there were no ‘2’ or ‘good’ ratings.
Having given Burwood School another satisfactory rating and highlighting required improvements, some of which are incredibly similar to those highlighted in 2009, why did Ofsted not consider putting the school back into special measures? The direction of travel, to coin a phrase, was clearly not one of improvement. If anything things were slipping backwards, but this seems to have been blithely dismissed and swept under the carpet.
One wonders if special measures had been in force again and there was more scrutiny on the inconsistencies in classroom discipline, and the excessive culture of rewarding pupils with fun activities instead of lessons, the 10-year-old alleged attacker might have had his behaviour nipped in the bud before he exploded out of control.
While Ofsted was content to rate Burwood School as satisfactory, it seems Ofsted’s own actions in addressing failings at the school were anything but. It could be argued they share responsibility for what happened in that classroom on 5th January.