Although educational performance has improved nationally, the NAO found that an estimated 1.6 million (23%) children were not attending a school rated as ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by oversight body Ofsted in 2013/14.
Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said today: “The Department [for Education] has been clear about the need for schools to improve and nationally education performance has done so, but there are significant gaps in the Department’s understanding of what works, and the information it has about some important aspects of school performance is limited.”
The Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, chair of the Committee of Public Accounts, said: “I am appalled that 1.6 million children aged 4 to 16 – almost a quarter of all school children (23% of 7 million) – still attend schools that are rated ‘inadequate’ or ‘requires improvement’.
“Most do improve before their next inspection, but it is deeply concerning that a hard core of 57% of schools that were rated ‘requires improvement’ had not achieved a higher rating within two years.”
The report found that since 2010, 221 warning notices have been issued to schools by local authorities.
A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: "Delivering better schools so our young people can succeed in life is a key part of our long-term economic plan to secure a better future for Britain. As a result, England's schools have been transformed over the past few years with 800,000 more children now being taught in good or outstanding schools since 2010.
"This is a great achievement but we would be the first to admit that the job is not yet done. Any child being taught in a failing school is an opportunity lost, which is why we have intervened in more than 1,000 failing schools over the past four years — pairing them up with excellent sponsors to give pupils the best chance of receiving an excellent education.
"There will always be more to do and we are certainly not standing still, but with more children being taught in good or outstanding schools than ever before, the NAO's conclusions are simply not supported by the facts which show the huge progress made thanks to our plan for education.'