The education watchdog released its Annual Report today, lauding the progress made by schools across the country in the past five years, but remarked the education system is “still short of world class”.

This is the final report released under Ofsted’s outgoing Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, who will be stepping down in January.

At a regional level, the report found that 92% of primary school pupils in the North East (203,382) are in either Good or Outstanding schools, compared to 75% (110,067) in secondaries which, despite showing improvement, are still behind the rest of the country.  Overall, 86% of North East pupils are in Good or Outstanding schools.

The gap between primary and secondary performance in the Northern regions has been a major focus for Sir Michael, as well as the North – South divide in education. He broached both subjects during his keynote speech at the SCHOOLS NorthEast Annual Summit in 2015.

His successor has already been announced as Amanda Spielman, former Chair of exam regulator Ofqual.

Mike Parker, Director of SCHOOLS NorthEast, commented:

“We would like to congratulate the fantastic efforts of primary schools across the North East. We also welcome the news that around 60,000 more pupils in our region are in Good or Outstanding schools compared with five years ago.

“Sir Michael is right to say access to excellent education has long been a dividing line in the country. However, the picture regarding the region’s secondaries is not quite as black and white as Sir Michael paints it.

“At secondary level, we have seen good and outstanding school numbers rise significantly in recent years, which is testimony to the skills and dedication of our secondary leaders.

“However, schools’ focus on being Ofsted-compliant is to the detriment of other, more important issues.

“Ofsted has become too high stakes for schools to innovate, because taking the risk to test new methods could be very punishing.

“Whilst Sir Michael has made an important move of fundamentally shifting Ofsted’s focus, our experience of working with Amanda Spielman tells us there will be a new narrative from the schools watchdog and the education system under her leadership.

“Perhaps the new Chief Inspector will provide a more nuanced, innovative approach and hopefully set a better tone for schools.”

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