Ofsted will still take pupil start points on board

24th June 2011 at 01:00

As the Ofsted director responsible for the production of the new school inspection framework, I would like to reassure readers about some of the fears expressed in last week's letters.

Clearly school results in national curriculum tests and public examinations matter. If pupils do not attain the expected standards for most children and young people at age 11 or age 16 they are less likely to succeed in the next stages of their learning. However, pupils' starting points also matter a lot and schools are credited for the rates of progress they achieve.

For this reason it is incorrect and an over-simplification to say that schools will be at risk of being judged inadequate if their raw results are below the national average. Our pilot inspection draft evaluation schedule clearly states that achievement can be satisfactory where standards of attainment are low, as long as there is an improving trend and pupils are making good progress from their starting points.

Key considerations will be the impact of teaching on pupils' learning and progress and the actions the school has been taking to improve achievement and the quality of education. Just as importantly, inspectors will examine the school's assessment records, observe how well pupils are learning and making progress in lessons, and discuss with pupils what their experiences have been.

Inspection must take account of how children are progressing. Suggestions that schools may be arbitrarily judged inadequate for failing to meet a particular performance target are very misleading.

Patrick Leeson, Director of education and care, Ofsted.

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