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Ofsted to put 'more emphasis' on leadership to avoid punishing toughest schools

Chief inspector Amanda Spielman challenges the 'myth' that schools in poor areas are disadvantaged in inspections

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Chief inspector Amanda Spielman challenges the 'myth' that schools in poor areas are disadvantaged in inspections

Ofsted will place more emphasis on its judgements about the leadership and management of schools in a bid to ensure that no one is penalised for working in those with challenging intakes.

Chief inspector Amanda Spielman, addressing the Learning to Shape Birmingham conference this afternoon, tackled the “myth” that schools in more deprived areas are disadvantaged when they are inspected.

She said that Ofsted does recognise the challenges facing schools in areas of high disadvantage, even though people told her it did not feel like it.

Ms Spielman said she had seen first-hand the challenges of turning around schools with deep problems, but insisted that this did not mean that Ofsted could “lower the bar” on its overall judgements for these schools.

“If we did, it would not be fair and it would not be objective, and we would end up lowering expectations for disadvantaged children for whom underperformance is not and never should be predestined,” she said.

'No one should be penalised for working in a challenging school'

She said that, instead, Ofsted recognised what it takes for a leadership and management team to turn around such schools.

She told the conference that, among schools in the “good” category, those with the toughest intakes are twice as likely to be rated “outstanding” for leadership and management than those with more advantaged intakes.

She said: “We will be putting more emphasis on this particular judgement than we have done in the past to make it absolutely clear that no head, no manager, no teacher, no teaching assistant, anyone in a school, should be penalised for working in a challenging school.

“I hope that governors, MATs [multi academy trusts], local authorities, school commissioners, who all make important decisions on the back of our judgements, will do the same.”

Ms Spielman added: “We, like everybody else, truly want to encourage ambitious, talented people to work in the toughest schools.”

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