Ofsted names the schools guilty of under-achieving

Inspectors identify four secondaries and 12 primaries that fail middle-class catchment areas by not pushing pupils hard enough
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The Independent Online

Inspectors have named the first schools judged to be "coasting" - failing to get the best out of their pupils - under controversial new rules.

Inspectors have named the first schools judged to be "coasting" - failing to get the best out of their pupils - under controversial new rules.

The inspections were carried out under rules introduced in January by Ofsted. These are designed to pick out schools in middle-class areas that appear to be doing well by national standards but which could do better.

Among the first to be listed is a popular village primary school, Beoley First School, in Beoley, near Redditch, Worcestershire, where there is a clamour for places. Some families even move into the village to secure a place. In a report just delivered to the school - which has 91 pupils and four teachers - inspectors say it is oversubscribed and "caring", but they conclude it is "under-achieving", even though it offers satisfactory education.

Standards in English and science among seven-year-olds are not high enough, given children's ability when they enter the school. By nine, they are improving slightly and are in line with the national average but they are still not good enough, the report says. Assessment of pupils' work is not rigorous enough and marking is not up to scratch. Thirteen per cent of the teaching is poor and curriculum planning is weak. The report also points to weaknesses in leadership and management.

However, the inspectors say standards in maths and information technology are high and most of the teaching seen during the inspection was very good. Pupils' behaviour and their relationship with teachers is also very good. So is their moral and spiritual progress.

Huw Jones, who chairs the school's board of governors, said: "The label 'under-achieving' is unjustified. How can we be called complacent when we are in the top 5 per cent of schools nationally for maths? Parents have seen the report and I have not had one disparaging comment. Common sense tells them this is a good school whatever Ofsted says about it."

Diane Gray, the headteacher, said: "We don't think the under-achieving label is very helpful. There are issues we need to improve. We don't feel we are under-achieving: our results in the tests for seven-year-olds are all above the national average. There is a great demand for places. The school has a very happy atmosphere."

So far, four secondary schools and 12 primaries have been labelled by inspectors as under-achieving, though many of the reports are not yet public. The primaries include Berryfield First School in Buckinghamshire; St Michael's and St John's Roman Catholic School, Clitheroe, Lancashire; St Peter's Roman Catholic Infant School, Blackburn; Glebe First and Middle School, Harrow; Beardall Street primary and nursery, Nottingham; Broadbent Fold, Tameside; and Beamount primary in Waltham Forest.

The new category was created after ministers accepted criticisms that schools with middle-class pupils found it easier to hide their shortcomings from inspectors than those in the inner cities. Under-achieving schools' test and exam results will be monitored by Ofsted. While most schools receive a full inspection every six years, "coasting" schools are likely to be inspected again after two or three years.