Your School Is Stuck!

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Stuck School


Ross Morrison McGill founded @TeacherToolkit in 2010, and today, he is one of the 'most followed educators'on social media in the world. In 2015, he was nominated as one of the '500 Most Influential People in Britain' by The Sunday Times as a result of...
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Imagine working in a crap school?

If we fall for the rhetoric of progress 8 metrics, then as a measure of our success celebrate them ourselves when it suits, we only have ourselves to blame for fuelling a high-stakes accountability system in England.

Only last week, someone wrote to me promoting the fact that they could determine the success of a school – and I use that word loosely – within 30-seconds! God forbid anyone believes that they can do such a thing.

Don’t be fooled by the grades …

There is not one person on planet Earth who can visit a school over two days and make a reliable judgement of a school. It’s that simple, but the proof will be in the pudding when schools begin to experience Ofsted’s new magic wand – which is essentially doing the same thing. For the vast majority of state schools, they may never see an Ofsted inspector under the new framework because it will take at least 5 years for inspectors to visit all schools.

Is your school stuck?

Superb data analysis by FFT Education Datalab highlights that as of the end of 2017/18:

  • 102 were rated outstanding;
  • 723 were rated good;
  • 286 were rated satisfactory or requires improvement;
  • 134 were rated inadequate;
  • 116 had either closed outright or been involved in a complex reorganisation that had resulted in pupils moving to different schools.

As the chart below shows, 14% of the 1,400 became ‘stuck’, and a further 6% either closed before becoming good.

Ofsted Inspection Outcomes 2017-18

Choose to work in a tough area?

It appears to be a tougher gig for teachers who choose to work in schools around the East Midlands and Humberside, those who are more likely to become stuck or closed. Schools in these regions, or ‘stuck’ schools so to speak, tend to have greater proportions of white British, free school meals-eligible pupils and have lower average attainment on entry.

Find me one school that does not want to improve. Find me any school in England that doesn’t face any of the challenges all schools are facing? Find me any school that has never struggled to recruit new teachers? Oh, and whilst you’re pondering those answers, if you take a little to long to make any suggestions, someone may just label you and your institution as ‘stuck’ or requiring improvement. We want rapid progress, and Ofsted wanted it yesterday.

Let’s stop pretending that this is all a school thing, rather than an out-of-school thing. And whilst I’m at it, stop believing you can judge a school in 30 seconds!

In 2014, Ofsted dropped the grading of lessons because of the evidence against it. The weight of argument against grading institutions is even greater. Stop grading schools – and we may save the teaching profession from potential disaster.


2 thoughts on “Your School Is Stuck!

  1. Another simple article and yet so true. Wish Ofsted were as simple, uncomplicated and truthful. Excellent article Ross.

  2. I have worked in three challenging schools. Issues were – external environment of many students, an Inspection system that rewards the socio-economic background of young people rather than the education that is provided for each student by the school , recruitment, resources, budget – the latter two having a much bigger impact on disadvantaged young people who are in no position to make up shortfalls themselves, the rewarding of a Macho school leader culture where draconian rules and systems disenfranchise the most vulnerable and most in need of an education through fast track exclusions and extended time in remove.Sadly many colleagues play into all this – Ofsted banner outside your school? – bragging about their success when all research shows that in reality their success is derived from their students and parents and their home environment. Clearly we all choose to work in a particular school – but unless you’ve worked in a genuinely challenging school – which is usually why they’re stuck – then its a debate you need to learn about. Currently Ofsted does nothing to support such schools and the Teaching Profession and Govt have failed in inspiring most Teachers to work in them.

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