Ofsted Annual Report 2015/16
Ofsted have today launched their Annual Report for 2015/16 focusing on education, children’s services and skills.
Commenting on the release of the report Ofsted’s outgoing Chief Inspector, Sir Michael Wilshaw, highlighted the ‘remarkable gains’ made by children under 11 over the past five years, however he warned of a growing North/South divide at secondary level, and a serious knowledge and skills gaps that threatens the country’s competitiveness.
Sir Wilshaw went on to state that while England’s education system fell short of being world class, it was important to recognise that some parts of the education system were closer to achieving that status than they have ever been. The Chief Inspector also stated that the quality of technical and vocational education and training needs to improve if we are to meet the skills challenges of the future.
The annual report is based on the findings of almost 25,000 inspections of schools, colleges and providers of early years and further education and skills.
The reports main findings are:
Primary Schools and Secondary Schools
- Education for children below the age of 11 is stronger than ever. There are now more outstanding primary schools, nurseries and pre-schools and childminders which help to create a level playing field for children from disadvantaged backgrounds.
- The proportion of good and outstanding primary schools has risen from 69% to 90% in five years.
- Education for children above 11 is improving but not everywhere. The North and the Midlands have dropped further behind the rest of the country. This means that the progression of the most able children and the provision for those who have special educational needs and/or disabilities are affected by the divide in quality education.
- 78% of secondary schools are now good or outstanding. The percentage of students who performed highly in primary school who went onto achieve an A/A* at GCSE was six percentage points lower in the North and the Midlands than the rest of the country.
- Education from 11 to 19 is strongest for pupils that are studying an academic curriculum aimed at university entrance. For those young people wishing to pursue their education through other alternate routes, there are fewer high-quality options available which lead to good qualifications and destinations.
- Transition from primary to secondary school continues to be problematic. Some pupils are beginning to fall behind. The report states that there can be mistrust between primary and secondary schools around transition which contributes to a failure of information being shared about assessment and the curriculum.
- Schools have generally increased the amount of learners going on to complete the academic qualifications needed to be accepted into university. However for learners entering the world of work, there is only a minority of schools that are equipping them with the skills needed for the work place.
Further Education and Skills
- Academic level 3 study programmes are working well regardless of where they are provided. Study programmes seem to be working well where there is a large cohort of A-level learners. Where there is a small school sixth form and the number of learners is low, the delivery of study programmes was less successful. Technical and vocational level 3 study programmes and those below level 3 were not working so well.
- The number of good or outstanding general FE colleges has declined from 77% to 71% in 2015.
- The policy intention to improve literacy and numeracy skills is well intentioned; the implementation of the policy however is not having the desired impact.
- The number of students studying GCSE English in general FE colleges has increased 156% over the last three years, and a 58% increase for maths. The increase in the number of students required to take both GCSE English and maths has put pressures on colleges meaning they have struggled to recruit enough teachers in English or mathematics.
- A quarter of students by age 19 are not achieving a grade C or higher in GCSE English and maths.
- An alternative level 2 qualification may be a more appropriate way of improving students English and maths skills ensuring that they are ready for work.
- The supply does not meet the demand for high quality apprenticeships at level 3. The latest data suggests that there are only nine applicants for every one vacancy. There are signs of improvement in the quality of apprenticeships and schools are doing more to raise awareness of apprenticeships as an option.
- In some areas of the country fewer than 40% of learners with special educational needs support are progressing well. Local areas are using inconsistent approaches to track the progress of learners, compared to learners with statements or education, health and care plans. Local areas are however becoming more accurate in their identification of children and young people who have special educational needs and/or disabilities.
- 65% of prisons and young offender institutes, who have learning and skills and work activities, are not good enough. This is the least successful aspect of the country’s education and skills system. The report states that many of the prisoners have primary school-level reading ability. The successful completion of English and mathematics qualifications are nine percentage points lower this year compared with four years ago.
- Young people are now four times more likely to face unemployment than workers aged 24 or over. This is likely due to the fact that the curriculum is not geared to train young people for the specific, and often high-level, skills that are in short supply in key sectors of the economy. The report suggests that there are some grounds for cautious optimism in the planned reforms to vocational and technical qualifications, following Lord Sainsbury’s review of technical education, which should look to address these issues.
- General FE colleges have the potential to have the greatest impact in helping to bridge this divide. However colleges will only be successful in bridging the gap if leadership capacity within the sector is improved. Only 52% of general FE colleges were judged to be good or outstanding for the effectiveness of leadership and management, 34% were judged to require improvement and 15% were judged inadequate.
- The annual report states that the area reviews present an opportunity to rationalise provision. However they find that the effectiveness of the reviews is limited as they do not include the full range of post-16 providers and exclude school sixth forms. This hinders the reviews from providing a strategic perspective on the provision within an area.
- Ofsted see the area reviews as an opportunity to ensure that the curriculum offer is more closely aligned to local, regional and national employment priorities. They feel the outcomes of the reviews in practice have, however, focused primarily on proposed mergers to support financial sustainability, or to tackle inadequate provision. They have not to date focused on an objective rationalisation of re-alignment of curriculum provision.
To read the full report please click here.