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Ofsted needs the courage to look beyond raw data, says NAHT

Commenting ahead of Ofsted's annual report to be published today, Russell Hobby, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT says: “We stand at a turning point with Ofsted. The education system has been transformed since the inspectorate was created. The question now is whether Ofsted can keep pace.

“There have been encouraging changes in recent times: greater consistency between teams and a lighter burden for good schools. We should always remember, though, that it takes a long time for changes at the centre to spread out to inspection teams and for school leaders to believe and trust that these changes are real. There is more work to do.

“For the future, we need greater clarity on the respective roles of regional schools commissioners and inspectors. There are too many cooks interfering with the broth at the moment. We need a greater focus on peer review and we must look again at the impact of the outstanding grade: is it right that a regulator determines excellence? Is it a good use of very limited resources to focus on this rather than eradicating failure?

“Ofsted needs the courage to look beyond raw data and ask how the results have been achieved. We cannot build sustainably good schools if leaders are always in fear of one bad year. This prompts the wrong behaviours for the long term. An adversarial inspection system generates a lot of noise but less progress.

“Our system may be on the edge of great things. We need a different approach to inspection if we are to make that leap.

“We also hope that Ofsted will continue to challenge the role of government. Encouraging them away from theatrics with structure and selection and instead supporting a steady focus on investing in teachers and leaders. Inspection results suggest that some parts of the country are not getting their fair share of support. We cannot guarantee a great education for everyone without great teaching in every part of the country.”

Page Published: 30/11/2016

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