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Satisfactory not acceptable: Ofsted

Ofsted chief inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw has defended plans to scrap the "satisfactory" rating for schools after criticism from union leaders.

Children need more skills, qualifications and training in the face of the current economic situation, Sir Michael insisted as he described the satisfactory grade as a "false designation".

"This is about creating good schools across the nation and that should be our intention. At the moment, of course, we have got over a million young people unemployed and that number is likely to grow," he said.

"They obviously need more skills, more qualifications, more training, not less, so they need to go to good schools."

Sir Michael's remarks come after union leaders criticised the Ofsted plans which will mean changing the "satisfactory" rating to "requires improvement".

"I believe that satisfactory falsely denotes acceptable provision and it isn't," Sir Michael said. "If you look at previous chief inspectors' reports going back many years now, it says roughly the same thing - that satisfactory is not good enough."

The 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.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who will take part in the summit with Education Secretary Michael Gove and a group of headteachers with experience of turning schools around, said the change represented a "massive shift in attitude".

A school can currently be judged as outstanding, good, satisfactory or inadequate. Some 3,000 schools have been judged satisfactory two inspections in a row, Ofsted said.

Under new plans, no school will be allowed to remain in the "requires improvement" category for more than three years and will be reinspected within 12-18 months. Schools will be given up to two more inspections within the three-year period to show improvement and any failing to do so will require special measures.

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