The proportion of schools judged as good or outstanding has reached a record high of 82 per cent, according to Ofsted figures released today.
The statistics reveal that 20 per cent of schools were outstanding at their most recent inspection, 62 per cent were good, 16 per cent required improvement and 2 per cent (458 schools) were inadequate.
The proportion of good or outstanding primary schools rose from 82 per cent in September 2014 to 83 per cent in March 2015. In the secondary sector, good or outstanding schools make up 73 per cent of the total – up from 71 per cent at the beginning of the academic year.
The figures also show that the proportion of good or outstanding primary schools is now the same for academies and maintained primary schools – in August 2014, there were more highly rated academies than maintained primaries.
The report states: “Due to an increase in the outcomes for local authority maintained school and a decrease in the outcomes for academies, the percentage of primary schools which are good or better is now 83 per cent for both of these groups.”
The gap between academies and maintained schools has also narrowed for secondaries – 76 per cent of academies are good or better compared with 67 per cent of maintained schools.
Ofsted said this was partly due to weaker schools leaving local authority control, which improved the average for maintained schools, while the schools concerned had not yet had inspections as sponsor-led academies.
Education Secretary Nicky Morgan said: “This [82 per cent figure] equates to more than 1 million more pupils in good or outstanding schools than when we began our reforms in 2010, a testament to the hard work of teachers, headteachers and governors across the country.”
The figures also show that there are no inadequate nursery schools in England and 97 per cent are good or outstanding.
Among special schools, 89 per cent are good or outstanding and 85 per cent of pupil referral units are in these categories.
But despite the rising numbers of good and outstanding schools, the watchdog warned of “pockets of weaker performance” and said there were 10 local authorities where more than half of secondary schools were less than good.
The figures come as Ofsted has announced a major shake-up to its inspection regime. The changes will mean that schools previously judged as good will be visited every three years, rather than every five years.
Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the NUT teaching union, said: "Our members are well aware that the difference between a ‘good’ and a ‘requires improvement’ grade from Ofsted can be arbitrary or downright unfair. Thousands of schools are now under threat from Nicky Morgan, who is determined to force academy status upon any school defined as ‘failing’ or ‘coasting’. As she remains unable to specify what she even means by ‘coasting’, it is quite possible that no school will in future be safe.
“We need to move away from the punitive Ofsted system of school inspection, which has only succeeded in creating a climate of fear. It is now a matter of urgency that we move towards a system of school self-evaluation, in which the profession has full confidence.”