Last week saw the publication of the Ofsted Annual Report 2014/15. The purpose of the report is to draw together the findings of some 5000 inspections that have been published over the course of the school year.
We have provided a useful summary below and included the key implications for school's from a marketing perspective.
- The North/South divide
The overall percentage of good or outstanding schools has increased to 74%, up from from 71% in 2014. However, when looked at regionally, the figure for the south is 79% whilst correspondingly the Midlands and North are at only 68%. Of the 16 local authorities identified with less than 60% of pupils in good or outstanding schools, 13 of them are in the Midlands or North.
- Primaries show less variation
The North/South divide does not affect the performance of primary schools; 84% are good or outstanding in the Midlands and North, 85% in the South. Some of the highest performing local authorities are in the North East; North Tyneside and Newcastle top the list with 99% of primary pupils in North Tyneside attend good or outstanding schools. 70% of schools that were previously ‘Satisfactory’ in 2012 are now Good or Outstanding.
- More needs to be done at KS3
Ofsted’s report ‘Key Stage 3: the wasted years?’ concluded that school leaders place a much greater focus on achievement at Key Stage 4. The majority of leaders spoken to as part of this survey said that they staffed Key Stages 4 and 5 before Key Stage 3. As a result, some Key Stage 3 classes were often split between more than one teacher or were taught by non-specialists. This, Ofsted report, has led to some students being put of studying the core Ebacc subjects at GCSE.
- Strong leadership is key
In many areas of the country Sir Michael Wilshaw points out that there is a shortage of high quality school leaders, with disadvantaged areas suffering the most. All of the evidence gathered by Ofsted shows that it is good leadership that makes the biggest difference to school standards.
- Teacher recruitment and retention is a major concern
50% of headteachers in areas deemed as ‘not challenging’ said that they had a problem recruiting enough good staff, rising to a staggering 77% in ‘challenging areas’. Wilshaw argues that a lack of capacity in leadership, teaching and governance, and an insufficient focus on the disadvantaged must be urgently addressed at a national level.
5,000 inspection reports.
5,000 early years providers, schools and colleges with a new marketing message to communicate. Here are our top tips for sharing the news about your latest Ofsted report, whatever the outcome.
Having a robust communications strategy is vital for engaging current and future stakeholders from students and parents to existing and prospective teachers. School's that effectively communicate their Ofsted reports and their strategies moving forward are 10 times more likely to have proud stakeholders with confidence in the school and a positive reputation in the community.
Communicating your message
- Promote widely and immediately: be proud and shout loud about your school’s success.Run a promotional campaign: posters (internal and external), postcards/leaflets with mass distribution, special edition of school magazine, update prospectus (if necessary) and website.
- Invite local media for a personal tour and meeting with the Headteacher to discuss recent report findings in detail.
- Ensure that ALL stakeholders are informed as soon as possible.
- Revise key messages to incorporate findings and quotes.
- Consider how this impacts on the future vision for the school.
If it's negative:
- Communicate don't hibernate: ensure all stakeholders are informed of the report findings as soon as possible and be open and honest in all communications.
- Issue a letter to all parents outlining the school’s plans moving forward and offer opportunities to discuss specific issues with senior member of staff.
- Conduct a briefing session with all staff to ensure they are clear on the agreed lines and methods of communications regarding the report findings.
- Highlight any positive findings throughout the report.
- Agree on key messages to be communicated and ensure all areas for improvement are addressed positively, with plans in place for addressing.
- Focus on moving forward rather than negative findings and the report itself.
If you would like support with your school's communication strategy for Ofsted, or would like general advice from our team of experts, please get in touch today.