Press release: The Annual Report of Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Education, Children's Services and Skills 2009/10

23 Nov 2010

Ref: NR- 2010-39

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Most children in England get a good start in life. Over two thirds of providers in the early years and childcare sector are judged to be good or outstanding. There is strong provision, too, in the education and skills sectors. Children and young people are generally well supported by local services when they need them. However, the quality of teaching in schools and colleges is still too variable, Ofsted reported today.

Ofsted’s Annual Report 2009/10, launched by Her Majesty's Chief Inspector Christine Gilbert, shows that teaching is still no better than satisfactory in half of secondary schools, 43% of primaries and 43% of colleges that were inspected this year. 

Ofsted’s data also shows that while a strong relationship remains between deprivation and weaker provision it is not a barrier to a school succeeding. Nine per cent of schools serving the most disadvantaged communities are outstanding, compared with the overall figure of 13%. 

The culmination of nearly 32,000 inspections carried out during 2009/10, this year’s report draws on a unique evidence base. It acknowledges many successes, but also shines a spotlight on where improvement is still required. 

Most local authorities provide front-line safeguarding services that meet or exceed minimum requirements for keeping children and young people safe. There are many examples of good and outstanding practice, but inspectors found that safeguarding arrangements were inadequate in 10 councils. The report reviews in detail the issues facing children’s social care, a system that is under considerable pressure, and identifies what distinguishes authorities who are managing those pressures successfully from those who are struggling.

Ofsted’s inspections in 2009/10 focused more closely on the front line of services. In schools and colleges, inspectors spent more time in the classroom observing lessons, while in social care there were unannounced inspections of local authorities’ contact, referral and assessment arrangements for children who may need protection.

Fifty six per cent of the schools inspected this past year provided their pupils with a good or outstanding education. This is in the context of a more risk-based approach to inspection in which fewer good or outstanding – and more satisfactory, inadequate and declining – schools were selected for inspection. 

For the first time this year, good or outstanding schools due an inspection were not automatically inspected. Ofsted undertook risk based checks on these schools to see if they had maintained their performance. One thousand seven hundred of the schools had, and were therefore judged not to need an inspection. If this figure is combined with inspection outcomes, a total of 65% of schools were good or outstanding this year. 

Of the 43 academies inspected – the majority of which were set up to replace failing schools – 11 were outstanding, nine good, 20 satisfactory and three were inadequate.

The strong performance of the early years sector was maintained, with 68% of childcare judged good or outstanding, an improvement on last year’s positive result. 

In the learning and skills sector, 57% of general further education colleges, 48% of work-based learning and 70% of adult and community learning were judged to be good or outstanding.

Commenting on the findings, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Christine Gilbert said:

'The report has much to celebrate. However, more needs to be achieved. In an increasingly competitive world economy we do not have the luxury of complacency. We must be relentless in the pursuit of the highest standards for all young people and adult learners – the best possible start in life with high quality childcare, the best teaching and the best training and social care the vulnerable can rely on.

'There is too much teaching that is dull and uninspiring. This means that too many young people are not equipped well enough to make the best of their lives. It is true that we expect more from schools and colleges today, and more from our teachers. But we also know a lot more about how to deliver good, inspiring lessons that motivate and engage children, young people and adult learners. It is vital that teachers are supported to provide them as a matter of course. A more intense focus on literacy in particular, but also on numeracy and communication technology, is essential to establish strong foundations for adult learning.'

Areas of concern identified in the Annual Report include:

  • the quality of early years and childcare provision is less effective in areas of high deprivation; the more deprived the area, the worse the provision 
  • progress of many ‘satisfactory’ schools is too slow, with a lack of consistency, particularly in the quality of teaching, impeding progress. In schools where behaviour was poor, this was frequently linked to poor teaching 
  • too many colleges remain only ‘satisfactory’, with limited capacity to improve. 
  • In addition to summarising the findings from routine inspections in 2009/10 in all areas of Ofsted’s work, the report considers three issues of national interest. The first focuses on the journey from failure to success for schools judged to be inadequate and placed in a category of ‘special measures’ or ‘notice to improve’. The second examines what can be learnt from the experience of outstanding providers in delivering good vocational education. The third considers the challenges faced by local areas in the context of rising demand for social care services and analyses why some local authorities are managing these pressures better than others.

In conclusion, Christine Gilbert, Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector, commented on her fifth and final Annual Report said: 

'We have improved inspections so we now see much more of what happens on the front line. In schools, that has meant a greater focus on teaching and learning. In local authorities, our unannounced visits to children’s social care services have allowed us to get a clearer picture of what’s happening on the ground. At the same time we are prioritising the inspection of weaker providers and devoting fewer resources to those that are good or outstanding. These changes are sharpening inspection and accountability, and should ensure more rapid improvements.”'

Other report highlights:

Childcare and early education

  • Overall, 10% of childcare provision was outstanding, 58% good, 29% satisfactory and 3% inadequate. Of those that were found to be inadequate in 2008/09 and have since been reinspected, 95% are now satisfactory or better.
  • Childcare on non-domestic premises, for example nurseries and playgroups, is slightly better on average than provision by childminders. This difference is much more marked in deprived areas.
  • The number of providers in the early years and childcare sector has continued to fall. Inspection evidence shows that since the introduction of the Early Years Foundation Stage a high proportion of ineffective providers have left the system.


  • Overall, 13% of schools were outstanding, 43% good, 37% satisfactory and 8% inadequate.
  • If the latest outcomes for the good and outstanding schools subject to an interim ‘risk’ assessment in the inspection year are included the totals are: 18% outstanding, 47% good, 29% satisfactory and 6% inadequate. This is a profile similar to 2008/09, even with a harder inspection.
  • Over three quarters of the schools inspected this year have either sustained their performance or improved since their previous inspection. However, 43% of the 489 schools previously judged outstanding were no longer outstanding in their inspection this year. 
  • The extent of variation in the proportion of good and outstanding schools found in different local areas is too high. Nationally, the proportion of good and outstanding schools (as measured at their last inspection, not just this year) is 68%. However, in any one local authority, this can vary from 40% of schools being good or outstanding to 90%.
  • A strong relationship remains between deprivation and poorer provision: 71% of schools serving the most advantaged pupils were good or outstanding compared with 46% serving the least advantaged. 
  • This year Ofsted inspected 319 non-association independent schools. The quality of education was good or outstanding in about two thirds of the schools inspected and inadequate in 4%.
  • There was more outstanding initial teacher education delivered by higher-education led partnerships than by school-centred initial teacher training partnerships and employment-based routes.
  • Trainee teachers need higher quality practical experience of teaching phonics and early literacy skills during their training to increase their expertise. 

Learning and skills (colleges, adult learning and work based learning)

  • Of the colleges inspected in 2009/10, 44 out of 79 were good or outstanding. This was a fall from the previous year where 56 of 89 colleges were judged good or outstanding. 
  • The performance of colleges serving the most disadvantaged learners is strong. Of the 62 colleges catering for the most disadvantaged learners, 44 were good or outstanding at their most recent inspection, a similar profile of grades to college serving average and advantaged learners. 
  • Just under half of all work-based learning providers inspected this year are good or better compared with 42% last year. Work-based learning providers that are more established are more likely to be judged good or outstanding than newer providers.
  • Provision contracted by the Department for Work and Pensions is the weakest area of post-16 provision, with the highest proportion of inadequate providers. This year, in a difficult jobs market, 28 out of 34 providers were judged to be inadequate in terms of outcomes for learners. 
  • Compared with last year a higher number of prisons have been judged to be inadequate for learning and skills and no provision is outstanding.

Social care

  • At the end of 2009/10 there were more outstanding children’s homes and fewer inadequate homes than at any time since Ofsted became responsible for their inspection. Overall 14% of children’s homes were outstanding, 59% good, 23% satisfactory and 4% inadequate.
  • Of the 77 fostering agencies and services inspected, 49 were good or outstanding. 
  • All of the adoption agencies and services inspected were at least satisfactory. 
  • Just under half of the local authorities inspected were good in their services for looked after children. None was outstanding. Safeguarding services more generally were outstanding in one local authority (Lincolnshire).
  • The Children and Family Court Advisory and Support Service (Cafcass) is performing poorly, with four out of the five service areas inspected judged to be inadequate.
  • Children’s services in local authorities

Of the 143 local authorities whose 2009/10 children’s services rating has been almost finalised:

  • ninety six are performing well or excellently 
  • ten authorities are performing poorly, mainly because of inadequacies in their safeguarding arrangements 
  • the proportion of authorities that perform excellently has doubled; they represent all authority types and are spread across the country. 

Notes for Editors

1. The Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills (Ofsted) regulates and inspects to achieve excellence in the care of children and young people, and in education and skills for learners of all ages. It regulates and inspects childcare and children's social care, and inspects the Children and Family Court Advisory Support Service (Cafcass), schools, colleges, initial teacher training, work-based learning and skills training, adult and community learning, and education and training in prisons and other secure establishments. It assesses council children’s services, and inspects services for looked after children, safeguarding and child protection.

2. Percentages are rounded and do not always add exactly to 100.

3. Interim assessments - from September 2009 Ofsted has varied the frequency of schools’ inspections. We now inspect most schools judged good or outstanding at their previous inspection at approximately five-year intervals unless we identify any concerns. To help decide whether we could wait longer than three years before undertaking a full inspection of a good or outstanding school Her Majesty’s Inspectors consider various sources of information about the school’s performance. This is called an interim assessment and when no inspection takes place as a result, a letter is sent to parents to tell them the school is still considered good or outstanding.

4. There are two Ofsted categories of concern:

  • A school is placed in special measures if it is failing to give pupils an acceptable education and if the persons responsible for leading, governing or managing the school are not demonstrating the capacity to secure the necessary improvement 
  • A school is given notice to improve if it is judged through inspection to be: a) failing to provide an acceptable education but demonstrating the capacity to improve, or b) providing an acceptable education but performing significantly less well than reasonably expected to in the circumstances. 

5. Copies of the report and summary versions for different sectors are available online at

6. The Ofsted Press Office can be contacted on 0300 123 1231 between 8.30am and 6.30pm Monday to Friday. Out of hours we can be reached on 07919 057359.


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