One in Eight Secondary Schools in England are Failing

An increasing amount of secondary schools in England are under-performing. This is according to official data which also outlines that one in eight schools fall below the government’s new minimum standard.

New Data from The Department of Education

The Department of Education (DfE) released statistics outline the extent of slipping school standards. 365 mainstream secondary schools fell below the minimum standard during 2017. Compared to the 282 secondary schools that were below minimum standards in 2016, there is a clear increase.

Officials have cited technical changes to the points system as the reason behind the under-performance. The system is used to calculate the performance of a school and changes can make it more difficult for schools to achieve a good rating.

Economic Gap Between Students is Narrowing

The data has revealed progress that officials are keen to highlight. The achievement gap between rich and poor students is narrowing. Since 2011, the gap between disadvantaged students and their wealthier peers has narrowed by 10%. Although the gap remains significant, the fact that it is becoming smaller is promising. Entry and achievement for EBacc (the government’s favoured core subjects) have also fallen.

More disadvantaged students have gone against an overall downward trend by taking EBacc subjects and obtaining good grades. This creates an optimistic outlook for disadvantage students who are clearly working hard to progress further in their lives. Geoff Barton, the general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, has urged officials that performance tables “only tell us a limited amount about the true quality of a school”.

Secondary School Data is Causing Confusion

Six of the 365 failing schools are rated ‘outstanding’ by Ofsted, another three are grammar schools.  The result may appear confusing to both students and parents alike, but they do show some progress. They reveal troubling curriculum narrowness and confusion about how schools can receive a good rating.

Instead of measuring a school’s success by the number of students gaining five good GCSEs, schools are measured through Progress 8. This is a gauge of the progress of a pupil between the end of primary school and the end of secondary school, based on their results across eight GCSEs. The pupils are then in compared with other students who have the same levels of ability.

The higher achieving schools were converter academies. These are successful schools that have chosen to change to academy status and have higher levels of achievement and progress scores compared to mainstream state funded schools. Free schools also did well but there wasn’t enough data to confirm this. In comparison, low-performing schools that have been endorsed by academy trusts fared much worse.