Office for Standards in Education (Ofsted)
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32% of schools are less than good in Bristol

Teams of Ofsted inspectors have today begun a week of co-ordinated inspections in Bristol to find out why the city has a disproportionate number of under-performing schools – and whether the picture is improving.

Around 15 focused school inspections will be taking place in the city as a result of Ofsted’s findings that the proportion of children attending a good or better school is currently well below the national average.

At the same time Ofsted will also conduct a telephone survey of a number of schools in Bristol, which are not being inspected.

The exercise marks a concerted programme of action by Ofsted to establish why children in some parts of the country have a much lower chance of attending a good or better school compared to areas with a similar demographic.

The latest official data show 32% of schools in Bristol are less than good, which is more than the average for England (26%), the South West Region (22%), and five of its local authority demographic equivalents.

Lorna Fitzjohn, Regional Director for the South West said:

Children only get one chance of an education. As Regional Director for the South West, I want to tackle the variations highlighted in our Annual Report and drive improvement in all schools in this region.

'It cannot be right that local authorities with the same demographics in terms of population size and levels of deprivation have such varying levels of provision in schools. All parents should have the same chance of sending their children to a good or better school but in Bristol the chance of being able to do so is much lower than in other parts of the country.

'That is why today and over the next few days, my inspectors will be going into a number of schools in Bristol to find out whether performance is improving. We will be paying particular attention to the effectiveness and impact of the support these schools are receiving from the local authority.'

These inspections, which were scheduled to take place this academic year but are being brought forward, will include all types of schools - although the majority will be primary schools.

The inspections and telephone surveys will give a powerful snapshot of not only how well schools are doing in Bristol since the Annual Report data was collected, but also a strong indication of the quality of external support and direction given to the schools by the local authority.

The findings and any recommendations will be shared with the local authority as well as schools, parents and the wider local public. If Ofsted finds that the local authority is proactive in addressing key issues and that standards in schools are improving, this will be made clear in the letter setting out the principal findings to the local authority.

However, if there is evidence that the local authority is not fulfilling its statutory duty to promote high standards and fair access to educational opportunity, Ofsted will move to carry out an inspection of the authority’s school improvement function under the new framework.

The local authority school improvement framework, which took effect this month, enables Ofsted for the first time to inspect the school improvement functions of any local authority where there are concerns that the statutory duty to improve school standards is not being met. This may include areas where the performance of schools has declined since the data was collected for the last Annual Report.

Notes to Editors:

1. Lorna Fitzjohn, Regional Director for the South West will be available for interviews in Bristol City on Tuesday 4 June 2013. Please call Ofsted’s Press Office for interview requests.

2. Media can contact the Ofsted Press Office through 03000 130415 or via Ofsted's enquiry line 0300 1231231 between 8.30am - 6.00pm Monday - Friday. Out of these hours, during evenings and weekends, the duty press officer can be reached on 07919 057359.

3. Bristol’s demographic equivalents are:

LA % less than good
Reading 24
Plymouth 26
Southampton 27
Brighton and Hove 28
Southend-on-Sea 31
Bristol 32
Sheffield 32
Portsmouth 36
Bournemouth 37
Derby 39
Peterborough 42

4. The framework for the inspection of local authority arrangements for supporting school improvement

5. Most recent overall effectiveness for schools inspected at 31 December 2012: Bristol and statistical neighbours


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