Only half of Swindon’s secondary schools are well run - according to education watchdog Ofsted’s annual report.
The report reveals that just 50 per cent of Swindon secondary schools were categorised as either ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ as of 31 August 2018 - down 8 per cent from the same period the previous year.
The statistics show Swindon as the second lowest performing education authority in the South West - only South Gloucestershire is worse - with half of its schools falling into the ‘inadequate’ or ‘requiring improvement’ categories.
Swindon primary schools fare better, with 82 per cent judged as being ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’, that figure being down 6 per cent on the previous year.
Further findings from the report show that Secondary School’s Progress 8 measure - a measure of pupils’ academic progress from Year 6 to Year 11 - is ‘significantly below’ the national expectation.
Peter Nathan, Swindon Borough Council’s Head of Education said: "Although Ofsted’s report shows there is still work to be done in some of Swindon’s secondary schools, it does not paint the full picture. We know that a number of our secondary schools have made rapid improvement over the last two years and have yet to be re-inspected under Ofsted’s inspection cycle.?
“I am sure that if several schools were inspected today, they would be judged ‘good’ due to a considerable improvement in their examination outcomes. Many schools have new leadership, good practice is being shared among schools and the Swindon Challenge partnership has funded school improvement projects which are making a difference.?
“The aim is of course for all schools to be judged good or better. Overall outcomes in Swindon primary schools have been improving over the past three years particularly in terms of the progress children make in their learning, but there is still work to do to ensure this happens in all schools.?
“There are now writing, mathematics and phonics champions in Swindon primary schools who are highly regarded practitioners who share their good practice with other schools to bring about improvement Standalone primary academies are being encouraged to join stronger Multi-academy trusts and there are strong partnership arrangements between headteachers to support improvements in leadership and management.?
“The expectation is that all parents and carers will be able to send their children to a school judged good or outstanding.”
In 2016 Ofsted’s South West Director Bradley Simmons wrote an open letter criticising Swindon schools, claiming that children were being failed at every key stage and highlighting “trend of decline” in secondary education.
At the time his comments prompted a furious reaction from head teachers in the town who said great strides had been made to improve outcomes for the town’s children.
Responding to the most recent report, Mr Simmons said: “I am pleased to report that in the South West, outcomes for our youngest children in early years education continue to be above the national average along with our further education and skills providers, who continue to provide a top quality service.
“However, I am concerned that there has been a four percentage point decline in inspection outcomes for primary and secondary schools. And there is still much variation across the region’s schools.
“This year, Ofsted’s Annual Report is highlighting our growing concerns about exclusions. While the south west is right in line with the national average for fixed-term exclusions, there are some places where exclusions are particularly high. For example, I am concerned about Bristol’s fixed term exclusion rate which is twice the national average.
“I am also particularly concerned about the exclusion rate for children with special educational needs and/or disabilities, which is just too high. In Somerset, and Bournemouth the SEND exclusion rate is a real worry. As a region, we must do more for these children.”
Ofsted's full report can be seen by following this link