Ofsted reports for the first time on education standards across the North West

Ofsted school inspection

Today Ofsted has published its first ever report reviewing education standards in the North West.

The Annual Report 2012/13 for the North West finds that primary schools and further education (FE) in the North West are among the best in England.

The proportion of children in primary schools judged good or better is the highest in England. Eighty-three per cent of children are going to a good or better school compared to 78 per nationally.

However, the strong performance is not reflected for secondary schools. The quality of secondary schools is patchy. Consequently, access to good or outstanding secondary education is a postcode lottery for too many young people.

In Blackpool, Salford, Tameside and St Helens, children only have around a one in two chance of attending a good secondary school.

Disadvantaged children are also not served well. At the age of 16, students eligible for free school meals do less well at GCSE than similar students nationally. Moreover, these young people have dramatically different chances of achieving good qualifications depending on where they attend school. Children from poorer families in Trafford, for example, have nearly twice the chance of achieving good grades at GCSE than their counterparts in Cumbria.

The North West has the highest proportion of good and outstanding colleges out of any region. However, some of the largest providers are failing to provide good education and training.  Only 20 per cent of learners who have not achieved a grade C or above in English and mathematics at age 16 go on to achieve these by age 19. Moreover, FE and skills training is not always well-matched to local skills shortages.

Michael Cladingbowl, Ofsted Regional Director for the North West, said:

“I am delighted that the North West has the highest proportion of children going to primary schools judged good or better in England. The region’s colleges must also be praised as the North West stands as the top performer nationally.

“Much of the credit should go to teachers and leaders, whose hard work ensures that children are receiving the best education.

“However, there is still much to do because for too many pupils, reaching the age of 11 can mark the end of a good education. The performance of secondary schools is variable. As a result it is down to where a child goes to school that will determine whether they receive a good education. This cannot be right and needs urgent attention.

“Children from poor families are also being left behind. Closing the achievement gap between these children and their more affluent peers is one of the most important challenges for our education system.

“As Regional Director for the North West, I am determined to drive improvement through our inspections and improvement work. Ofsted inspectors will monitor, challenge and support those institutions that are underperforming and we will not walk away until education standards improve in across the region.”

Alongside the regional report, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector of Education, Children’s Services and Skills, Sir Michael Wilshaw, today published his second Annual Report, underpinned by the findings of more than 8,500 inspections carried out in England during 2012/13 of schools, adult learning, skills and colleges. At the launch, Sir Michael said that the challenge for the nation was to build on the improvements seen in the North West and elsewhere and accelerate progress so that England’s education system can match the best in the developed world.

The report includes separate tables showing the percentage of pupils attending good or outstanding primary and secondary schools, according to the latest Ofsted inspection judgements, broken down by local authority area. Also for the first time, Ofsted’s interactive tool, Dataview, highlights the sometimes stark differences in performance of schools and colleges in local authority areas that share the same profile.



The key findings for schools are:

Nearly eight in 10 schools in England are now good or better – the highest proportion since Ofsted was founded 20 years ago;

Around 485,000 more primary school pupils and 188,000 more secondary school pupils attend a good or better school compared with a year ago;

Nearly a quarter of a million pupils are still languishing in inadequate schools;

There are only three local authorities where fewer than 60 per cent of primary school pupils attend a good or better school compared with 23 local authorities in 2011/12;

Major concerns remain over secondary school provision in some parts of the country – in 13 local authorities less than half of secondary pupils attend a good or outstanding school;

Inspectors judged teaching overall to be good or outstanding in 65 per cent of schools, up three percentage points from last year;

There were more English and mathematics lessons judged less than good than in many other parts of the curriculum;

Much of the weakest teaching in schools was concentrated in the lower attaining sets and in the younger age groups, in both primary and secondary schools;

The significant growth in the number of academies over the last few years has helped to raise standards in many of England’s weakest schools;

Early evidence is that too few of the converter academies are innovating in ways that were intended;

Poor White children, by far the largest proportion of children eligible for free school meals, are being left behind. Since 2007, the attainment of this group has improved more slowly than all other ethnic groups.


The key findings for Further Education and Skills are:

71 per cent of all providers were judged good or outstanding – an increase of seven % on last year;

For the first time in three years, two general FE colleges were judged outstanding for teaching and learning;

The number of inadequate providers increased from 34 to 41 – including some large colleges that were previously judged good or outstanding;

A lack of strategic oversight is hampering the ability of colleges and independent learning providers to provide training that matches the skills local employers need – only a third of Local Enterprise Partnerships have an FE and skills representatives on its board;

This “mismatch” is a direct result of “perverse incentives” that encourage colleges to provide courses that appeal to learners rather than ones that meet local employment needs;

For young people under 19, there were seven applicants for every apprenticeship vacancy in 2012/13. People over the age of 25 were much more likely to be given an apprenticeship place.
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