Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Scandal of Our Schools; Ofsted Chief Inspector: One in Three Is Mediocre ... or Worse

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Scandal of Our Schools; Ofsted Chief Inspector: One in Three Is Mediocre ... or Worse

Article excerpt

Byline: Tim Ross Education Correspondent

CHILDREN in a third of state schools suffer an education that is "mediocre or worse", Ofsted warned today.

A "stubborn core" of poor quality teachers is holding children back and too many pupils still leave school without basic reading, writing and maths. In a critical final report on Labour's 12 years in power, Ofsted's chief inspector Christine Gilbert said despite improvements, progress had been "too slow". Her last annual report to Parliament before next year's general election suggests the Government has some way to go before being able to claim it has delivered on its promise to create "world class" schools.

Ofsted now inspects every aspect of education and children's social services apart from universities. Ms Gilbert's report for 2008-09 found: Inspectors rated 31 per cent of state schools as no better than satisfactory with six per cent of secondary schools judged to be failing.

One in five schools previously rated "good or outstanding" is now mediocre at best.

Teaching of basic English and maths is too often weak, and standards in science lessons remain among the worst. The decline in the study of French, German and other languages in secondary schools, after ministers made the subjects optional, is "a continuing cause for concern".

Standards of behaviour were inadequate or only satisfactory in 20 per cent of secondary schools.

Ms Gilbert said the picture overall was more positive than in previous years, with fewer failing schools. But too many state schools, colleges and nurseries are "mediocre or worse". She said: "I am clear of the greatest challenge: to raise the quality of the provision that is only satisfactory to the level of good or outstanding."

Ms Gilbert singled out the failure to ensure children master the "three Rs" for her strongest criticism: "Too many young people leave school without adequate basic skills -- and this can have a limiting effect on their whole lives."

She warned that too many teachers were not up to the job, leading to poor behaviour in class and more pupils playing truant. …

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