Northern secondary schools get bad rating in Ofsted inspections

All but one of the bottom 14 neighborhood authorities for secondary college provision are in the north of England, with Oldham in Higher Manchester showing one particular of the most significant falls, 12 months on 12 months.

Just 36% of pupils in Oldham attend a school deemed good or excellent by Ofsted inspectors, in contrast with 71% nationally. That is down from 57% given that 2013, following the downgrading of two colleges.

Councillor Amanda Chadderton, cabinet member for training and safeguarding, mentioned: “We’re really clear that education is failing too several youngsters in Oldham – and we are getting proactive to determine and tackle the brings about.”

Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief inspector of colleges, stated Oldham’s “journey of improvement” essential to commence now. But it has arguably currently begun. Earlier this 12 months, the council’s charismatic younger leader, Jim McMahon, appointed former education secretary, Estelle Morris, to lead the Oldham Schooling and Expertise Commission, which will examine all issues all around children’s progress and attainment from early many years upwards.

“In launching this commission, we give it a really clear remit to root out unpalatable information and bring back a report that doesn’t hold back on harsh truths,” mentioned Chadderton. “We are holding the mirror up to ourselves in Oldham in an unprecedented way with the council, colleges, employers and partners all signed up to a real procedure of challenge that will be uncomfortable for some.”

The amounts of unemployment and child poverty in Oldham are over the national typical. Local community cohesion has also been a dilemma, with several colleges building into almost monocultural environments – one thing education suppliers are trying hard to deal with.

In 2010, the one,400-pupil Waterhead academy opened, the consequence of a merger in between two ethnic monoculture secondary schools – Counthill, nearly completely white, and Breeze Hill, virtually completely Pakistani. At its last inspection in January 2013, Ofsted made a decision that Waterhead necessary improvement.

“There is no doubt that educational outcomes need to increase in Oldham as elsewhere,” said Alun Francis, principal and chief executive of Oldham School, which sponsors Waterhead. “However, it is also real that the specifications set for colleges are increasing.

“The apparently dismal image [provided by Ofsted] is not entirely supported by the data on improved attainment of pupils in Oldham. In excess of the past decade, there has been a sustained general improvement in the two secondary and major at a price more rapidly than the national regular, for both important stage two and important stage 4 final results.

“There is no stage pretending that Oldham does not have some genuine difficulties to meet educationally and economically. Significantly is taking place to address this, and a single of the strengths of the town is that individuals are sincere and open about what demands to be accomplished. It is almost certainly best to get on with the work and not to get as well distracted by this type of factor.”

David McEntee, principal of the Hathershaw University, which was downgraded from good to “requires improvement” earlier this 12 months, said Ofsted had moved the goalposts by judging colleges a lot more harshly. “It’s a truth that successive Ofsted frameworks have created the procedure much more challenging,” he said, suggesting a tough and unrepresentative cohort that left in 2013 may have coloured the inspector’s see of the school.

He said deprivation was a dilemma in many areas of Oldham, but that colleges were becoming far more multicultural: “I know that in the past there have been concerns with communities, and people reflect back to the riots [of 2001]. But I’m a principal of very a mixed school now. We’ve conquer individuals barriers. People for me aren’t the concern.”

Morris explained her commission sought to uncover why Oldham’s schools weren’t usually delivering, but that deprivation wasn’t to blame. “Primary schools are performing a lot greater than secondary colleges in Oldham, and it is the very same children. We are not looking for an explanation in terms of external factors. That is often why the going is hard, but the identical issues are faced by many colleges in London or other components of the north-west.”

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