Ofsted’s claim that almost 90% of England’s state schools are good ‘is nonsense’

Ofsted's claim that almost 90% of state schools in England are good is “complete nonsense”, a former chief inspector of schools has said.

An Ofsted report said 88% of state-funded schools were judged good or outstanding in their most recent inspection in December last year.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, who headed Ofsted between 2012 and 2016, told MPs at the Education Select Committee on Tuesday that the judgments gave “false comfort” to parents and headteachers.

Ofsted says almost 90% of schools are good, this is nonsense

Sir Michael Wilson

He told MPs that the school inspectorate's one-word judgment “has got to go”.

“I think the days of the one-word crisis are coming to an end,” he said.

“I mean, I was a big supporter of it, but I'm not anymore.”

Sir Michael continued: “Ofsted says almost 90% of schools are good, that's nonsense. This is complete nonsense.

“Having seen some of the schools rated well in recent years … I wouldn't say they were good.”

He continued: “When I was in some of these schools and then I looked at the display, I felt like going to Specsavers and getting another pair of glasses because they weren't right.

“And it gives false comfort to parents who say, ‘Oh, this must be a good school, so let's not look into it further, let's not question the school.'

I think this one word judgment needs to be done

Sir Michael Wilson

“The same with principals – once they have a good judgement, they can relax and not deal with the weaknesses that exist in this school.

“That's how I think this one-word judgment should go.”

There have been widespread calls for Ofsted to overhaul its school assessment system following Ruth Perry's death.

Ms Perry was headteacher of Caversham Primary School before she died in January this year after a report downgraded her school from its highest rating – outstanding – to the lowest due to safeguarding concerns.

The school, in Reading, Berkshire, was re-inspected on June 21 and 22 and the new report, which does not mention Ms Perry, rates it good in all categories.

In June, Ofsted announced changes to improve inspection arrangements and reduce pressure on teachers and school leaders.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “One-word inspection grades summarize independent assessments of the quality of education, safeguarding and leadership, which help give parents confidence in choosing the right school for their child.”