Agenda item

Agenda item

Ofsted Inspections of Manchester Schools

To receive a list of all Manchester schools which have been inspected since the last meeting and the judgements awarded and to consider the main themes arising from the inspections.


The Subgroup received a list of all Manchester schools which had been inspected since the last meeting and the judgements awarded. 


The Senior School Quality Assurance Officer provided Members with an overview of the inspections which had taken place since the last meeting.  She highlighted that Grange School had been judged to be inadequate a few years ago but was now judged to be outstanding.  She reported that, overall, 87.8% of Manchester schools were judged to be good or outstanding and that this applied to 88.9% of primary schools and 82.8% of secondary schools.  She informed Members that a mix of different areas for improvement had been identified in the reports published and outlined some of the recurring themes, which included attendance, particularly reducing persistent absenteeism, reading for older pupils, the implementation of the curriculum and assessments to identify and then address precise gaps in knowledge.  She reported that these themes had been shared with Headteachers, who had been signposted to resources and training.  She advised Members that Headteachers had also been informed about changes to Ofsted, such as the mandatory mental health training for inspectors, the policy on pausing an inspection and how to request a deferral, and the support which was available from the Council during an inspection.  She stated that her team had reassured Headteachers that there was a wealth of support available to them during an inspection and that the vast majority of inspections were carried out fairly and were not like the worst-case scenarios shared on social media.


The Senior School Quality Assurance Officer reported that a webinar on adaptive teaching had taken place in January, that it had been very well-attended and had received positive feedback and that follow-up sessions were being planned to showcase good practice.  She informed Members that the rate of Ofsted inspections had slowed down considerably this school year, compared to last year, but that there had been an increase in inspections of schools which had previously been judged to be outstanding and had been exempt from inspection for a number of years.  She reported that the series of webinars on the curriculum had now concluded, that these had been well-received by school leaders and that her team was evaluating the success of these webinars and looking at what further training and support should be provided, noting that this might involve a focus on the implementation of the curriculum, given that this had been a theme in recent Ofsted reports.


In response to a Member’s question about sharing good practice on attendance, the Senior School Quality Assurance Officer reported that one of her colleagues, who led on attendance for the Council, sat on boards at both a regional and national level which explored and shared good practice on attendance.  She informed Members about targeted support provided to schools, which took a whole school approach to attendance and provided advice on individual cases, and about a pilot project to address attendance issues in Wythenshawe, noting that school attendance in the city was improving.  A Member commented on the impact of the pandemic on attendance and on the number of viruses that were currently in circulation.  The Chair commented on the different attitudes towards school from different demographic groups, including parents who had not had a positive experience of school themselves, and how these families could be engaged with, noting that this was something that Ward Councillors could be involved in.


A Member expressed concern that there were schools which had not been inspected for 11 years because they had previously been judged to be outstanding and had been exempt from inspection for many years.  She advised that the purpose of Ofsted needed to be reviewed.  She highlighted some of the issues which Manchester schools faced, including high levels of deprivation, the number of different languages spoken and children arriving from war-torn areas. 


A Member advised that it was important for Ward Councillors to be informed about Ofsted outcomes and that schools should be discussed at Ward Co-ordination meetings.  The Chair suggested that wards could have a Ward Co-ordination meeting focussed on education, with a representative from the local school attending.


The Chair reported that Members asked school leaders about their experiences of recent Ofsted inspections when carrying out school visits and that there seemed to be a variety of different styles from Ofsted inspectors but that there had been positive comments from schools about recent inspections.  In relation to the Ofsted report for St Aiden’s Catholic Primary, she commented on the challenges for small one form-entry schools in meeting the curriculum requirements.


The Senior School Quality Assurance Officer reported that there had been a directive from the Bishop for all Roman Catholic schools to join an academy trust, which was Emmaus Catholic Academy Trust for schools within the Diocese of Salford and Corpus Christi Catholic Academy Trust for schools within the Diocese of Shrewsbury.  She reported that St Aiden’s would be joining the latter in the next academic year and that the Church’s view was that joining an academy trust should help to address the issues in relation to small one-form entry primary schools as they could then access that support network.  She reported that the areas for improvement identified for St Aiden’s included support for children with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), assessment, management of bullying and discriminatory behaviour and children’s understanding of British Values and she informed Members that the school was accessing training and support from the Trust.  She highlighted some of the support that the Council was providing, including carrying out a SEND review, brokering support from another school on SEND and increasing the number of Quality Assurance visits.  She reported that her team was confident that the school was making progress.  In response to a Member’s question, she advised that she was not sure whether Ward Councillors had been involved, advising that local Members were briefed when a school was judged to be inadequate but that this had not historically been the case for schools which had been judged as requires improvement.  She stated that she would check this with her colleague who provided support to St Aiden’s.  A Member commented that he was aware that the three Ward Councillors for Brooklands were interested in the school and in helping to secure improvements, which the Senior School Quality Assurance Officer stated she would communicate to her colleague.     


In response to comments from the Chair, the Senior School Quality Assurance Officer reported that, although the overall judgement did not change at an ungraded inspection, the quality of education was still fully scrutinised as part of these inspections.  She advised Members that more graded inspections had taken place this year compared to recent years.


A Member requested that the Subgroup write to Grange School to congratulate them on their outstanding judgement.  The Chair reported that letters would be sent to all schools judged to be outstanding.




1.             To note the reports.


2.             To write to the schools and settings judged to be outstanding to congratulate them.

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