The basic question in my report for Policy Exchange on school chains, out today, is simple: we’ve got a big education problem in this country and what can we do about it?
Here is the problem. We know that England is only a middling country when it comes to the international league tables. The cause of this disappointing performance is the large group of schools where the education on offer is no more than satisfactory. Estimates vary, but according to Ofsted the quality of teaching and learning is no better than satisfactory in 40 per cent of schools, and 6,000 (out of around 20,000) schools only reached 'satisfactory' in their last Ofsted inspection.
As every parent knows, satisfactory is anything but – it is a classic piece of Orwellian jargon invented by the education establishment to cover up the mediocrity of much of what goes on in the classroom.