Reinforcing the myth that the North East’s secondary schools are underperforming, Ofsted’s Annual Report 2018/19 looked at the last year of results under the old Education Inspection Framework.
The report showed that the number of secondaries judged good or outstanding, is at 58%, well below the national average of 76%. This is compared to primary school outcomes with 90% being judged good or outstanding, which is above the national average of 87%.
However, these Ofsted outcomes are the result of inspections under the old framework, which relied on measures of school performance that fail to take into account different pupil characteristics, including the high levels of long term deprivation suffered by pupils in the North East.
When pupil characteristics are taken into account in measures of school performance (such as Progress 8), all Local Authorities in the North East improve. As such, this annual report fails to adequately represent the quality of teaching and schools in the North East, mistakenly presenting economic and geographical factors as educational ones.
Recent Schools North East analysis has shown that the new Education Inspection Framework is generally more promising, with a higher proportion of North East schools being upgraded than elsewhere in the country. Around 23% of North East schools saw their grade improve, compared to a national average of 16%. Schools North East will continue to monitor outcomes to look at the effect of the new framework in the North East.
Another area which was highlighted was the high exclusion rate in the North East, the highest in the country. Again, this is subject to the specific context of the region, with the high levels of deprivation in the area having significant impact on pupil behaviour, and a lack of alternative provision in the region resulting in students not being in the appropriate setting.
It is key that when looking at statistics and reports such as these, policymakers properly consider the context of the North East, in order to best serve schools and children in our region. This underpins our Manifesto for North East Education, work we are continuing this year to ensure that effective education policy is formulated for the region.