Serious challenges face education system, say Ofsted


The “battle against mediocrity” is slowly being won but major barriers continue to prevent England’s education system from competing with the best in the world, according to the Chief Inspector of Ofsted.

Launching his second Annual Report in December, Sir Michael Wilshaw said that, overall, schools and colleges across the country were performing better than they were a year ago. Children now have a better chance than ever of attending a good or outstanding school, while the further education and skills sector has “raised its game” since major concerns were highlighted in the 2011/12 report.

Sir Michael said that the challenge for the nation was to build on these improvements and accelerate progress so that England’s education system could match the best in the developed world.

The Annual Report finds that a number of factors are impeding educational progress, including, too much mediocre teaching and weak leadership, and the significant underachievement of children from low income families, particularly white children. It also points to regional variations in the quality of education.

Sir Michael also voiced concern that minor disruption and inattention in the classroom had been tolerated for too long in too many of England’s schools. As part of a concerted focus on culture and behaviour by Ofsted in the year ahead, Sir Michael announced that from January, inspectors will make “no-notice” visits to schools where they have identified poor behaviour as a particular concern.

One of Sir Michael’s first public statements on becoming Chief Inspector two years ago was that the country had “tolerated mediocrity for far too long” and that it had “settled into the system”.

Speaking on the publication of his latest report, he said: “Looking at the evidence across all sectors, there are unmistakeable signs that England’s education system is gradually improving.”

However, Sir Michael cautioned that “Serious challenges remain and all the while, many of our international competitors are improving at a faster rate than we are.”

The Ofsted Annual Report 2012/13 is available at:


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