Schools ‘not doing enough to support brightest students’

3 Mar 15
Schools are not doing enough to challenge high-performing students to enable them to fulfil their potential, according to the education watchdog Ofsted.

Inspectors said they found complacency in many of the 40 secondary and 10 primary non-selective schools they visited to assess the teaching, curriculum and guidance provided for their most able students. The report also drew on another 130 routine inspections where schools were asked how they supported their most able students.

Ofsted found that the brightest students attending non-selective secondary schools were failing to achieve their potential, compared with students who attended selective and independent schools.

Pupils who achieved the highest national curriculum level at the end of Key Stage 2, were not being prioritised by schools, the watchdog said.

However, it noted that some successful school leaders used information they received from primary schools to make sure that students were doing work that stretches them as soon as they join Year 7.

Despite this, too many pupils were receiving teaching within a curriculum that did not sufficiently challenge them. Around a quarter of those who showed very strong potential in English and maths at 11 did not go on to achieve a B grade at GCSE, it said.

Following on from a 2013 report on support for the most able students, Ofsted said it was ‘disappointing’ to find that the same problems remain.

It is calling for action to raise the bar higher for the most able pupils. School leaders were urged to develop a culture of high expectations for students and teachers in secondary school.

Sean Harford, Ofsted’s national director of schools, said: ‘This report has focused particularly on those identified as the most able. While inspectors found pockets of excellence, too many of these children are not being challenged sufficiently – and thousands of highly performing primary pupils are not realising their early promise when they move to secondary school,’ Harford said.

‘For our part, Ofsted will make sure that inspections keep focusing sharply on the progress made by the most able students, particularly those from poorer backgrounds. Inspectors will also report more sharply about how well schools promote the needs of the most able through the quality of the curriculum and the information, advice and guidance they offer to their most able students.’


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