‘Satisfactory’ not good enough in classrooms

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‘SATISFACTORY’ will soon be no longer good enough for Sheffield schools – who face being classed as failing if they are found to be stuck in a rut.

Government inspectors are keen to crack down on schools they believe are coasting – by failing to make the most of their pupils’ potential.

Now the inspection rating of satisfactory – the second worst of four and widely regarded as below average – is to be scrapped.

It will replaced by a new grade called ‘requiring improvement’, and no schools will be allowed to remain in the category for more than three years.

Schools will be subjected to an earlier re-inspection within 12 to 18 months, rather than three years.

If after two more inspections a school fails to show any improvement, it will be put on the failing list.

Sheffield has 55 schools – 10 of them secondaries – graded satisfactory in their most recent inspections.

Of those, 25 primaries have been rated in the grade twice in a row, which would put them under close Ofsted scrutiny.

And four city secondaries are in the same position – Chaucer, Westfield, City and Hinde House.

Ofsted’s plans are due to go out for consultation and are set to be opposed by teaching unions who feel pressures from central government are increasing stresses and workloads on teachers in the classroom.

National Union of Teachers’ general secretary Christine Blower said: “All teachers and school leaders want nothing but the best for their pupils and no school willingly sits on its laurels as far as pupil attainment is concerned.

“First we had ‘underperforming’ schools, now we have ‘coasting’ schools.

“Labelling schools in this way is derogatory and insulting to pupils, teachers, school leaders and governors.

“The Government’s real agenda behind this change is of course inventing yet another category of schools that it will then seek to force into academy status.”

During Labour’s time in office Ofsted said it intended to bring in a completely new category for ‘coasting’ schools, but the plans were dropped after opposition from headteachers.