Failing schools will only improve

Narrowly failing an Ofsted inspection is more likely to prompt an improvement in schools, rather than begin a spiral of decline, according to research.

The academic study examined the consequences for secondary schools in England of being labelled as failing.

It addressed the key question of whether the process of being failed by inspectors was likely to damage a school even more – or whether it could be the springboard for a recovery.

This study focused on schools just above and below the boundary between satisfactory and unsatisfactory, to make a comparison between schools not too far apart in levels of achievement.

Falling on the wrong side of this divide – and being failed by inspectors – could be a long-term advantage, according to the study, which looked at inspection results from between 2002 to 2008.

The judgement that a school was failing “empowered” head teachers to take corrective action, she said.