Headlines: October 2nd, 2009

Ofsted is publishing a report today to highlight the achievements of 20 primary schools, which have each been rated as ‘outstanding’ at least twice in spite of facing serious challenges. Ofsted reports that the schools show others how they can help children from different backgrounds to succeed.

The success of the 20 schools, from across England, contradicts the link between disadvantage with low standards, according to the Ofsted report ‘Twenty outstanding primary schools excelling against the odds’. It says that the schools serve communities where pupils come from poorer urban backgrounds and they all have an above average proportion of children receiving free school meals.

The Ofsted report says the schools have succeeded by having the highest expectations for every pupil and staff member. Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, Christine Gilbert said: “Through their passion and professionalism these schools provide great service to children and young people. They show other schools how they can reduce the achievement gap between pupils from different backgrounds.”

The Ofsted report finds that schools maintain excellence by continually seeking to improve teaching and learning. The quality of staff, teamwork and leadership are also essential and the successful schools appoint and develop staff who can achieve consistently high standards. One school in Barking and Dagenham, for example, does not use general supply teachers but only well qualified local experienced staff. In another example, a head who turned round a school in Wandsworth said many teachers left when they realised what was expected of them.

Christine Gilbert added: “It is our aim at Ofsted to identify and share better practice to support improvement. Many of the stories in this report are inspiring. They show how schools, regardless of their context can help young people make something of their lives.”