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Stop giving schools ‘misleading’ grades, think tank urges Ofsted

SCHOOLS should no longer be given an overall grade by Ofsted, a new education think tank has said.

The newly-launched EDSK organisation claimed previous studies showed inspectors can reach different judgments about the same school in as many as half of cases.

It recommended inspections should focus on pupil behaviour, curriculum, careers advice and extra-curricular activities but stop short of giving an overall mark.

The report said: ‘By moving away from the notion of “grading” schools and towards empowering parents with better information, the education community as a whole will reap the benefits of having a self-improving school system. Our education system will be a much better, happier and healthier place.’

Ofsted currently uses a grading scale of outstanding, good, requires improvement and inadequate.

Tom Richmond, EDSK director and former adviser to the Department for Education, said: ‘These grades could be very misleading. The idea that you can summarise an entire school in a single number or phrase is not supported by any research evidence. Instead, we should focus on giving parents simple, accessible information to help them decide if a school is right for their child.’

The call comes as a consultation into new Ofsted inspection proposals is due to close today.

The proposals, intended to be brought in from September, include focusing on the substance of what children are being taught rather than exam results and grades.

Ofsted said: ‘There is little new in the EDSK report and several inaccuracies. Some of it we have said ourselves and are addressing through our new inspections.’