This series of articles examines the comments of Ofsted Inspectors from 80 full inspections of schools which were deemed to be “good”.

Previous articles have looked at Ofsted’s comments regarding attainment at KS2.

This article looks at progress.


Whilst inspectors have advanced knowledge of the school’s progress at the end of Key Stage 2, as calculated by the DfE, and the 5 levels (e.g. “below average”, “well above average”) which are displayed on the DfE’s website, this headline measure was often not explicitly commented on by inspectors. When it was, the measures showed the school to be broadly in line with national averages:

Progress in writing across key stage 2 has improved steadily since the last inspection and is now broadly average.

As a result, pupils’ progress in mathematics improved from well below average to average…

Progress has also improved during this time and is in line with other schools nationally.

Pupils’ progress from the end of key stage 1 to the end of key stage 2 is high and, from provisional figures, is likely to be above national averages.

…their progress was close to the national average in reading and mathematics.

The progress measure for writing at the end of key stage 2 has improved markedly.

Often, Ofsted’s comments regarding progress relate to attainment levels instead of the DfE’s calculation of progress:

Pupils did not make the progress that they should towards the higher standards in relation to national figures.

However, there has been a dip in the progress that pupils make in their writing, particularly at the higher standard.

In recent years pupils’ attainment and progress by the end of Year 6 in reading has been below average.

In 2018, the proportion of Year 6 pupils that made good progress and achieved the higher standard in reading and mathematics and greater depth in writing was above average.

Often, however, comments about “progress” do not include quantitative information, often using the terms “good progress” or “strong progress” instead of the DfE’s banding terms:

Current pupils make similar, strong progress in a wide range of subjects. In geography, for example…

Pupils make good progress in some aspects of the wider curriculum [including art, geography, history].

Leaders keep a careful check on the progress of every individual and go to great lengths to help pupils make good progress.

The most able pupils make strong progress when teaching is well matched to their needs. However, this is not consistent across the school.

Pupils make rapid progress in PE due to specialist teaching…

Pupils make good progress in a range of subjects. Music and physical education…

Some of the comments seem to go back to the previous curriculum, when one of the headline measures was whether individual pupils had made sufficient progress.

Leaders have successfully addressed previous underachievement and have ensured that the large majority of pupils make good progress during their time at school.

In 2016 and 2017, too few key stage 2 pupils made sufficient progress and achieved the expected standard in reading, writing or mathematics.

Please see our article about Ofsted’s comments regarding Other Subjects for more information.

As there are no progress measures at the end of Key Stage 1, Ofsted’s inspectors make broad-brush comments about progress, often linked to more specific comments regarding attainment.

Pupils routinely make good progress during key stage 1 in reading, writing and mathematics because of consistently good teaching. The proportions of pupils reaching the expected and greater-depth standards are broadly in line with national averages.

Pupils make good progress in extending their writing skills. … As a result, the proportions of pupils reaching the expected standard and the higher standard in writing in 2018 were similar to those seen nationally.

Children are well prepared, thanks to the good progress they make in Reception.

Many children join the school in Nursery or Reception with starting points well below those typical for their age. They make strong progress and, consequently, outcomes by the end of Reception are similar to those seen nationally.

Progress is also assessed in current year groups – please see our article about Ofsted judgements and Pupils’ Work for full details.

We hope that you have enjoyed this article.

This series examines the comments of Ofsted Inspectors from 80 full inspections of schools which were deemed to be “good”.

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