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Stricter measures suggested for ‘satisfactory’ schools

Schools ranked as ‘satisfactory’ need to be pushed harder to improve, a report by the Royal Society of Arts (RSA) suggests.

In conjunction with Ofsted, the report found that half of the 40% of schools classed as ‘satisfactory’ failed to improve within two Ofsted inspections. These schools were also more likely to be in poorer areas.

The RSA recommends that if schools do not improve this ranking within six years, they should be relabelled as ‘inconsistent’ and required to draw up plans to address weaknesses. Regular updates should be provided to monitor the progress of these schools.

Report author, Professor Becky Francis, said: “Given the larger proportion of ‘satisfactory’ schools compared to failing schools, they are having a more widespread impact on outcomes for disadvantaged children than are failing schools.

“It's really urgent that this issue be addressed. These schools need to be directly supported to improve and to be held accountable for doing so. It seems to me to be genuinely quite preposterous that we have a very high quality inspection system but very little framework to ensure schools improve.”

However, Brian Lightman, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, told the BBC the label should be used as its dictionary definition, or not at all.

Lightman said: “If they mean unsatisfactory they should say so. The distinction between ‘good’ and ‘satisfactory’ should be abandoned and there should be three grades: above expected level of performance, around expected level of performance and below expected level of performance.”

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