A decade ago Bristol’s reputation on the education front left a lot to be desired. However, in recent years things have been changing at a fast pace and Bristol’s secondary schools are now turning around at a rapid rate. In fact, on Weds Dec 13th 2017 Ofsted’s annual report rated Bristol’s secondary schools among the best in the country.
Although schools are not ultimately measured by Ofsted reports, it remains an important factor in determining parent choices. This turnaround in education quality has become somewhat of a national success story – not least as a decade ago many of the city’s schools were embarrassingly in the bottom ten, being rated as either inadequate or in special measures.
This achievement is perhaps all the more astonishing given that the proportion of disadvantaged pupils in Bristol still stands at double the national average, with two in five children in the city counting as eligible for free school meals. There is historically a common correlation between poor Ofsted ratings and areas of deprivation but Ofsted insists this is not an excuse for poor schools – something Bristol has now shown conclusively to be the case. A shining beacon of hope for change, 90% of Bristol’s primary schools are now rated good or Outstanding and 95% of secondary schools are in the top brackets.
In the below table you can see how three local authorities fared in terms of the percentage of schools rated outstanding or Good as of August 31st 2017.
The effect of this turnaround on school applications has been somewhat dramatic. Whereas a decade ago South Gloucestershire schools would typically receive applications in the hundreds, now around 1000 applications come in from outside the Local authority area as parents compete for popular school places.
However, there is still more to be done. In terms of attainment, Bristol’s primary schools are the highest achieving of all three local authorities, far ahead of South Gloucestershire and North Somerset.
Attainment in the secondary school bracket though still falls below the national and South West average. Alongside this challenge is the inequality in the city’s schools. Some schools have very small numbers of disadvantaged pupils, as low as eight per cent, whereas other Bristol schools have up to 70 per cent disadvantaged pupils so the starting blocks couldn’t be more different.
Despite Bristol’s huge achievement, it is clear there is still some room for improvement when it comes to academic grades. One to one tuition has proved to be a key way to help boost academic achievement and Bristol Tutors is delighted to have been working directly with a number of the Ofsted outstanding schools in recent years (Cathedral choir school, St Mary Redcliffe, Cotham school) proving pupil premium support and academic intervention tuition. One to one support can help students reach their full academic potential and can complement class-based learning extremely well. We all look forward to even more astonishing academic achievement in Bristol in the coming years.
You can read the full list of 2017 Oftsed outstanding schools below;
Redland Green School, St Mary Redcliffe and Temple School, Bristol Cathedral Choir School, Colston’s Girls School and Cotham School.