A QUARTER of secondary schools in Southampton are falling behind the required standard but none are inadequate, the education watchdog says.

Of the 12 schools in the area, Ofsted rates none as inadequate, its lowest mark, while three require improvement, as of 30 September. Its latest figures list one as outstanding and eight as good.

In the Hampshire education area one secondary school is rated inadequate, while six require improvement. Nine in 10 secondary schools in Hampshire are rated good or outstanding at their latest inspection, Ofsted figures show.

In Southampton, there are 76 schools registered with Ofsted including primaries, one of which is rated inadequate while 11 require improvement – meaning 16 per cent overall are below standard.

This is above the 10 per cent average for the South East.

Of the 68 schools in the Hampshire area, Ofsted rates nine as outstanding, its highest mark, while 52 are classed as good, as of 30 September.

This means 90 per cent were graded highly, above the 86 per cent average for the South East.

The regulator visits all new schools, including academies, within three years of opening.

Inspectors judge them on categories including the quality of teaching, personal development and welfare, the effectiveness of the leadership and pupils' achievement.

Schools requiring improvement will be inspected again within 30 months, while those rated inadequate now face mandatory conversion into academies, funded directly by central government.

Across England, 20 per cent of all schools are classed as outstanding, 66 per cent good, ten per cent require improvement and four per cent are inadequate.

But with more than 1,000 "outstanding" state schools going without an inspection in a decade, the National Education Union warned this did not accurately reflect the quality of education they offer.

The union's joint general secretary, Dr Mary Bousted, said: "The fact that some schools haven't been inspected for over 10 years demonstrates that the information Ofsted provides is misleading at best and may be downright wrong."

The Department for Education recently announced it will consult on plans to remove the exemption for outstanding schools, a move Ofsted says it welcomes.

"This is something that Ofsted has long argued for, so we're pleased the Government has made this announcement," said a spokeswoman for the regulator.

"Routine inspection assures both parents and schools that the quality of education on offer is of a good standard.

"In the interim, inspectors can and do go into outstanding rated schools if necessary.

"We have powers to inspect at any time if we have concerns about the standard of education, or if there is a safeguarding concern."

A DfE spokeswoman added: "This Government is committed to providing world-class education for all students and, where a school is judged as inadequate by Ofsted, the Department will not hesitate to step in and ensure that swift improvements are made so that all children at the school can receive the education they deserve.

"The gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers has narrowed considerably in both primary and secondary schools since 2011.

"Teachers and school leaders are helping to drive up standards right across the country, with 85 per cent of children now in good or outstanding schools compared to just 66 per cent in 2010."