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Ofsted hails "unprecedented" improvement in England's schools

Schools in England are improving at an “unprecedented rate”, with a sharp rise in the numbers rated good or outstanding by inspectors, according to Sir Michael Wilshaw.

The Ofsted chief inspector used a speech today to hail the results and praise the work of “dedicated teachers and outstanding head teachers” in delivering improvements.

Speaking to an audience of heads, Sir Michael suggested that the new inspection regime, introduced last September, had had a "galvanising effect" on schools.

The overhaul included cutting the amount of notice schools were given of an inspection, and replacing the old satisfactory rating with "requires improvement".

Under the new system, schools judged to require improvement at two consecutive inspections and who are still not providing a good education at the third face being placed in special measures.

"This morning's figures illustrate the greater urgency of heads, leaders, governors and teachers to improve their schools to a good standard and not put up with second best,” Sir Michael said.

"Headteachers are using the 'requires improvement' judgment as a way of bringing about rapid improvement in their schools, especially in the quality of teaching. And the national improvement we are seeing is all the better for taking place under the terms of a more rigorous school inspection framework.

"I am determined to use the power and influence of inspection to improve our school system. The message from Ofsted is unequivocal - the acceptable standard of education in this country now starts at 'good'."

Data released by the inspectorate today shows a 9 per cent increase in schools being rated as good or outstanding, which the watchdog said was the most rapid rate of improvement in its 21-year history.

Nationally, 78 per cent of state schools were judged to be good or outstanding at their last inspection, while about 19 per cent were found to require improvement and 3 per cent were inadequate.

This compares to last year’s figures when around 70 per cent of schools were considered good or better, with almost a third judged to be satisfactory or inadequate.

 For more Ofsted news, see this Friday’s TES magazine.

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