In previous articles, we had a look at Ofsted inspector’s comments relating to “requires improvement” and “good schools”.

In this new series of articles, we’ll look at 42 primary-phase schools which Ofsted has deemed to be “outstanding”.

In this article, we’ll have a look at attainment.

Outcomes exceeding National Standards

Perhaps unsurprising for “outstanding” schools, school’s attainment is above average:

The proportion of current pupils achieving higher standards in reading and mathematics in Year 6 is well above the most recent national averages…

By the end of key stage 1, pupils attain standards that are consistently above those of other pupils nationally in reading, writing, mathematics and science.

Pupils’ excellent personal skills, as well as their academic achievements, mean that they are exceptionally well prepared for the next stage of their education.

In 2018, 98% of Year 6 pupils attained the expected standard in reading, writing and mathematics.

Ofsted’s inspectors sometimes comment on why this is:

… because of the high expectations of staff and very effective teaching.

The highly positive outcomes in mathematics are due to leaders’ highly effective approach to teaching and assessing mathematics.

This is because of the high-quality teaching that they experience and their excellent attitudes to learning.

Teachers believe that ‘no child should be left behind’, and they do not allow pupils to leave the class with gaps in their knowledge or understanding.

There are no limits or false boundaries set by staff or leaders across the school’s curriculum.

However, it isn’t just at the expected standard where these schools are above national averages. It is often at the higher standard.

A high proportion of pupils reached the highest standards in writing in 2017.

In 2018, the proportion of pupils that attained greater depth was above the national average in reading, writing and mathematics.

Outcomes in reading are particularly strong, with almost half of all pupils attaining the higher standard for their age.

A higher proportion of pupils than nationally achieve the greater depth standard [at Key Stage 1].

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Outcomes not exceeding National, and ranking

However, it is not always the case that outcomes must exceed the National Average for a school to earn an “outstanding” status, as long as they are rapidly improving and/or there is a plan to increase them:

Overall, pupils’ attainment and progress in writing by the end of key stage 2 improved to reach the national average. Leaders have identified a range of strategies to enable pupils to achieve as well in writing as they do in reading and mathematics. It is too early to demonstrate a positive impact on the outcomes in writing for pupils overall.

This is a clear area of focus for all staff this year, who are keen for pupils to attain equally well across the three core subjects. The impact of their current work is emerging across the school, but remains a priority moving forward.

Leaders are aware that work now needs to be done to raise attainment in science so that it equals that of reading, writing and mathematics.

Leaders are taking effective action to restore these high standards, for example by involving adult volunteers from the local community and Year 6 reading mentors.

The proportion of most-able pupils attaining at greater depth in writing, remains smaller than average. This was confirmed during the inspection by checking work in books and observing learning in lessons.

Occasionally, Ofsted quantifies how much above the National Average these schools are:

All pupils reached the expected standard in mathematics and almost half of these pupils exceeded it. The school’s outcomes in mathematics in 2017 were in the top 1% of schools. The headteacher is rightly proud to have received a letter from the Department for Education congratulating the school on pupils’ achievement.

In 2017, at the end of key stage 1, attainment in reading, writing and mathematics was in the top 10% nationally. In 2018, attainment is even higher…

Attainment is strong in key stage 1 where, for example, in 2018, pupils’ attainment in writing was in the top ten of schools.

Unfortunately, these rankings are no longer included in the 2018 IDSR (only quintile indicators are used), and so it can be harder for schools to understand what their school’s ranking is.

However, this Key Stage 2 information is included in our ASaP report – so you can see whether you are in the top 30% for disadvantaged pupils in reading, for example.


We hope that you have enjoyed this article.

This was based on 42 outstanding schools whose Ofsted Inspections Reports were released between September 2018 and January 2019.

For the full set of articles on Ofsted Inspections – click HERE

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