Ofsted’s claim that nearly 90% of England state schools are good ‘is nonsense’

Ofsted’s claim that nearly 90% of state schools in England are good is “complete nonsense”, a former chief inspector of schools has said.

An Ofsted report stated that 88% of state-funded schools were judged to be good or outstanding at their most recent inspection as of December last year.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, who was head of Ofsted between 2012 and 2016, told MPs on the Education Select Committee on Tuesday that the judgments give “false comfort” to parents and head teachers.

He told MPs that the schools inspectorate’s one-word judgment “needs to go”.

“I think the days of the one-word judgment are coming to an end,” he said.

“I mean, I was a big supporter of it, but I’m not anymore.”

Sir Michael continued: “Ofsted says that nearly 90% of schools are good, that’s nonsense. That’s complete nonsense.

“Having seen some of the schools judged good over the last few years… I would not say (they) were good.”

He went on: “When I’ve been in some of these schools and then looked at the report I felt like going to Specsavers and getting another pair of glasses because they were not good.

“And it’s given false comfort to parents that say, ‘Oh this must be a good school so let’s not look into this any further, let’s not challenge the school’.

“The same with head teachers – once they’ve got a good judgment they can relax and not address weaknesses that there are in that school.

“So I think that that one-word judgment needs to go.”

There have been widespread calls for Ofsted to revamp its school ratings system following the death of Ruth Perry.

Ms Perry was headteacher of Caversham Primary School before she died in January this year following a report which downgraded her school from the highest rating – outstanding – to the lowest over safeguarding concerns.

The school, in Reading, Berkshire, was reinspected on June 21 and 22 and the fresh report, which does not mention Ms Perry, rates it good in all categories.

In June, Ofsted announced changes to improve inspection arrangements and reduce pressures on teachers and school leaders.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “One word inspection grades succinctly summarise independent evaluations on the quality of education, safeguarding, and leadership which helps to give parents confidence in choosing the right school for their child.”