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The RSA's campaign to scrap Ofsted's 'satisfactory' school rating proved successful following the announcement by Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, to change the satisfactory school rating to 'requires improvement'.

View the (Un)Satisfactory? Enhancing Life Chances by Improving 'Satisfactory' Schools report

Commenting on the change, RSA Director of Education, Professor Becky Francis said:

"The RSA fully supports Ofsted's decision to scrap the 'satisfactory' school rating. Ofsted is right to point out that many of these schools are performing inconsistently and have significant room for improvement. What needs to be addressed in particular is the variable quality of teaching. We need to find ways to incentivise the best teachers to join these schools and new ways of helping schools to improve."

The move follows the RSA report (Un)Satisfactory? Enhancing Life Chances by Improving 'Satisfactory' Schools which concluded that schools with disadvantaged pupil populations are more likely to 'coast', remaining 'stubbornly satisfactory' and not improve between inspections. The report concludes that:

  • School rated as 'satisfactory' more than twice in a row to be given a notice to improve and treated as if it were an inadequate school.

  • 50 percent of satisfactory schools remain satisfactory at their next inspections and 8 percent of them decline to become 'inadequate'.

  • While 52 percent of satisfactory schools serving affluent pupils improved, this is only true of 36 percent of their disadvantaged counterparts.

  • The likelihood of attending a satisfactory school is affected by where you live with Yorkshire and Humber, East Midlands and the East of England regions being the worst affected.

Today's move, announced ahead of a Government summit on struggling schools, will be subject to consultation, and is designed to tackle the number of schools that have maintained a "satisfactory" rating over a number of inspections without improving.

The RSA reports concludes that discussions on 'golden handcuffs' to tempt good teachers into weaker schools need to be urgently revitalised. The report suggests that first class graduates be given bursaries to undertake Initial Teacher Education training and that the pupil premium ought to be spent on bolstering teacher quality.

The report also calls for:

  • The introduction of a new nationwide support system to facilitate the sharing of best practice, support and advice.

  • Head Teachers of satisfactory schools to be required to deliver a plan to Ofsted outlining how areas of weakness are to be addressed and to submit regular updates on progress.

  • Lessons to be learnt from those schools in disadvantaged areas that have progressed from 'satisfactory' to 'good'.

View the (Un)Satisfactory? Enhancing Life Chances by Improving 'Satisfactory' Schools report

Notes to editors

1.     For more information contact RSA Head of Media Luke Robinson on 020 7451 6893 or 07799 737 970 or

2.     The RSA manages an RSA Family of Academies that share best practice, work for school improvement and promote social justice in education.


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