Today’s Education in the Media blog looks at the Public Accounts Committee report on Ofsted’s inspection of schools, the Office for Students consultation to improve access and participation in higher education and Saracens new free school.
Today, Friday 7 September, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) published a report on Ofsted’s inspection of schools.
The report makes a number of recommendations for the department, principally around Ofsted’s funding, assurance for parents and the possible removal of the ‘Outstanding’ exemption.
The report has been covered widely today by the Press Association, the i, Guardian, Mirror, Times, Telegraph, the Today Programme and BBC Online.
We are clear that schools judged by Ofsted to be providing ‘outstanding’ education are not exempt from accountability. We have the most sophisticated performance data we have ever had – published for all schools every year – providing real transparency on schools’ performance for parents.
Where concerns are raised about the provision or outcomes at an outstanding school, Ofsted has the power to re-inspect.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
Standards are undeniably rising in our schools. 154,000 more six-year-olds are now on track to be fluent readers than in 2012, we have seen the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers reduce across all stages of education and there are 1.9 million more children in good or outstanding schools – with 86% of schools now judged to this standard, compared to 68% in 2010.
The Education Secretary has made clear that Ofsted is the only body able to provide an independent, rounded judgement of a school’s performance. We trust Ofsted with these inspections and this is backed by parents, with Ofsted inspections the second most important consideration when choosing a school behind location.
The focus of Ofsted should always be on underperformance so that no child has to be in a bad school that no-one is doing anything about. There is a comprehensive range of performance data available and where Ofsted has concerns about performance at any school, it has always been and will continue to be able to inspect at any point.
Office for Students consultation
Today, Friday 7 September, the Office for Students (OfS) has launched a consultation on their plans to improve access and participation in higher education.
The proposals that they are consulting on include:
- Developing a more ambitious and strategic access and participation plan- over a 5 year period.
- Working more collaboratively – to increase outreach activities with younger children, mature students into Higher Education, and raise attainment in schools.
- Publishing an annual report on the impact of their access and participation activities.
This has been reported by the Today Programme, Daily Mail, Telegraph, BBC Online and Times.
This work is possible because of reforms we have made to the higher education system – providing the Office for Students with more responsibility in this area.
Universities Minister Sam Gyimah said:
It is imperative that our higher education sector is accessible to everyone, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, and I’m pleased to see that the Office for Students is looking at even more ways to improve access and participation.
“This government has already made significant progress in this area, with record number of disadvantaged students going to university, but there is still more that needs to be done. That is why we are also conducting a review of the post-18 education and funding which will look at ways to drive up quality, increase choice and ensure value for money for students and taxpayers.
Saracens Free School
Today, Friday 7 September, a new free school called Saracens High School has opened in Barnet. This is a secondary school which will provide 1,130 places, including a 230 place sixth-form. This will be the first school opened by a The Saracens Multi-Academy Trust, which includes Saracens Sport Foundation and Middlesex University.
This has been reported by Today Programme who spoke to the founder of the school.
This is another example of how our free school programme is creating more new schools and providing more choice for parents.
Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
I want to create new, great schools where they are needed most and give parents greater choice when looking at the schools that are right for their children. For years, innovative free schools have been leading the way on this – from the specialist maths schools run by some of our top universities to the special free schools creating places for children who have additional learning needs.
The new schools opening their doors this term will build on this record, bringing in the likes of Saracens Rugby Club and Sky to provide pupils with excellent sports activities and classes on cutting edge media technology. Thanks to reforms like this and the hard work of our teachers, we have 1.9 million more children in good or outstanding schools than in 2010 – I look forward to seeing these new schools flourish too.