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Ofsted warns over school standards

The school standards gap is unacceptably wide, with variations in performance across local authorities, a new Ofsted report warns.

The annual report, published today, highlights the importance of strong leadership to drive up standards. Ofsted is also launching a league table ranking local authorities according to inspectors’ ratings of local schools.

In some areas there is a less than 50% chance of a good or outstanding school, compared with areas where the chance is over 90%, the report found.

The top five local authorities are Camden, Barnet, Richmond upon Thames, Sefton and Trafford. The bottom five are Telford & Wrekin, Wakefield, Thurrock, Derby and Coventry.

Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: “We'll be looking very carefully at what's happening in those local authorities with the same sort of population, with similar levels of deprivation, similar numbers of children on free school meals, where one particular local authority does extremely well and another one doesn't.

“We’ll be asking a question – why is it parents in some parts of the country have less than a 50% chance of getting their children into a good primary school where there are other parts of the country where that chance is over 90%?”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Sir Michael is right that standards in some local authorities are simply not good enough. There are still too many schools that do not provide a good enough education. We make no apology for introducing reforms to drive up standards in schools.

“The report recognises that sponsored academies – with strong leadership and real expertise – are the best way to turn around struggling schools. That is why we are identifying consistently weak schools and allowing experienced academy sponsors to take them over.”

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