Despite perceptions that failing an Ofsted inspection can cause schools to go into a downward spiral, new research actually suggests that the opposite is true.
A study by researchers at the University of London and the University of Bristol found that GCSE results improved by an average of ten per cent at schools that had been narrowly judged a failure by Ofsted, the BBC reported.
Looking at the effects on a secondary schools following a 'failing' judgement by the education watchdog, researchers found that the inspection results were more likely to act as a catalyst than anything else.
The research also found that, far from triggering a process of decline, 'failing' an inspection did not have negative effects on morale, pupil levels or teaching recruitment.
In fact, failing an inspection often "empowered" teaching staff and led to a renewed vigour to address issues.
Concentrating on secondary schools that were placed just above or just below the cut-off point between satisfactory and unsatisfactory, the academic study compared the subsequent results in schools that were technically not far apart before their inspection.
The intriguing results suggest that being failed could in fact be in the long-term interests of the school, with results from those that failed appearing to improve faster and further than those deemed satisfactory.
"It could be worse to be judged as satisfactory," Dr Rebecca Allen of the University of London's Institute of Education told the news provider.
"It suggests there is a lot of capacity to do better within schools," she added.
Dr Allen added that the research reinforces the validity of school inspections. While she acknowledged that they could be stressful for schools, the improved results demonstrated their value, she said.
Earlier this year, Ofsted announced its intention to drop the 'satisfactory' label from its inspections in a bid to combat 'coasting' schools that are failing to improve on the rating.
Posted by Tim Colman