School inspections report defended

NEARLY one in ten schools in Essex examined by Government officials over a seven month period failed to make the grade, latest figures reveal.

Last night education chiefs launched a staunch defence saying the number of schools visited by Ofsted represented a tiny proportion of the overall number of schools in the county.

Government officials inspected 97 Essex schools between September 2009 and March this year.

Of these 7% were judged to be “outstanding”, 43% “good”, 40% “satisfactory” and 9% “inadequate”, according to Ofsted’s latest school inspection outcome figures for the East of England which were released yesterday.

A total of 470 schools were visited in the eastern region as a whole, with 11% rated as “outstanding”, 42% as “good”, 39% as “satisfactory” and 8% as “inadequate”.

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Jerry Glazier, Essex spokesman for the National Union of Teachers’ (NUT), said: “With around 600 schools in the county the number inspected is a very small proportion.

“Without knowing where the schools were it is difficult to know if that is a representative sample of schools across the whole county.

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“Essex is a large local authority with a diverse population, with areas of great wealth and equally, areas of social deprivation.

“There are schools that are operating in very different environments which can have an enormous impact on the ability of those schools to perform in the ways that Ofsted expect them to.”

Mr Glazier said the education funding mechanism had been consistently and historically inadequate to deal with schools facing challenging circumstances.

However he said the union welcomed, in principle, the policy of the new coalition Government which could see additional resources for children in challenging circumstances that would hopefully improve standards of education and impact on inspector’s reports.

The inspections were based around a new framework which Ofsted claims emphasise the role of leadership, the progress and achievement of pupils and the quality of teaching and learning.

They included visits to nursery, primary, secondary, pupil referral units and special schools.

Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s chief inspector, said: “Greater involvement for senior staff in the inspection process and more inspection time in the classroom, means that the new framework is helping ensure schools are better able to understand their weaknesses and areas in need of development.”

A spokesman for Essex County Council, which is responsible for education provision in the county, was unavailable for comment last night.

Local authority Schools inspected Outstanding (%) Good (%) Satisfactory (%) Inadequate (%)

Essex 97 7 43 40 9

Hertfordshire 89 15 40 40 4

Norfolk 89 4 40 44 11

Suffolk 63 14 40 40 6

East of England 470 11 42 39 8

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