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OFSTED BLASTS FAILURE TO IMPROVE SCHOOLS

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Local government has failed to rise to the challenge of school improvement, according to Ofsted. ...
Local government has failed to rise to the challenge of school improvement, according to Ofsted.

An Ofsted consultation paper, Local education authority support for school improvement, says there is little evidence education departments make an impact on school improvement or social exclusion.

It says there is growing polarisation between the best and the worst run departments, and criticises the varying levels of school support from place to place.

The paper claims the best councils are those without nostalgia for the old controlling role of the local education authority and those which embrace delegation, consult well and have a clear, 'minimal' definition of their role.

It calls for 'managed evolution' of councils' relationship with schools. David Singleton, head of Ofsted's LEA division, said that when Ofsted's inspection of Calderdale MBC was published in 1998 press reports suggested 'the performance of LEAs damaged the reputation of local government of a whole'.

He added: 'I think it did. That seems to me to demand a collective effort of improvement. Of that there is too little sign by far.'

Mr Singleton said the only councils where a clear causal link existed between their actions and school improvement were Kensington & Chelsea LBC and the Corporation of London.

But he insisted a simpler definition of LEA roles and careful targeting of resources could help stretched councils achieve more.

Mr Singleton classified the types of failure:

Unitaries that have made an uncertain start, perhaps through inheriting a bad situation

Established councils with obvious weaknesses but lack the managerial capability to improve

Capable councils not pulling their weight due to lack of vision or co-ordination at the centre

The 'most difficult': councils where flawed political leadership over many years prevents even capable managers delivering improvement.

Well run with high performing schools

Cornwall CC

North Somerset

Kingston upon Thames LBC

Bury MBC

Surrey CC

Rutland CC

Warwickshire CC

Well run with low performing schools

Barking & Dagenham LBC

Birmingham City

Newham LBC

Sunderland City

Knowsley MBC

Kingston upon Hull City

Kirklees MC

Newcastle City

Stoke on Trent City

Significant weaknesses and average or high performing schools

Bedfordshire CC

Calderdale MBC

Kent CC

Buckinghamshire CC

Weaknesses and low performing schools

Hackney LBC

Manchester City

Sandwell MBC

Tower Hamlets LBC

Southwark LBC

Barnsley MBC

Islington LBC

Liverpool City

Haringey LBC

Leicester City

Councils making effective contributions to improvement in one or more aspect in all or nearly all their schools

Kingston upon Hull City

Nottinghamshire CC

Stoke on Trent City

Bury MBC

Warwickshire CC

Brent LBC

Newham LBC

Evidence of effectiveness in only half or fewer of the schools visited

Liverpool City

Buckinghamshire CC

Barnsley MBC

Islington LBC

Southwark LBC

Hackney LBC

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