School leaders’ union NAHT has described a think tank’s report on Ofsted as offering an intelligent way forward for inspection.
Today’s report by Policy Exchange calls for lesson observations to be ditched, more professional inspectors, a hard look at the future of outsourced contracts, and a greater focus on struggling schools.
Russell Hobby, general secretary of NAHT (National Association of Head Teachers) said he supported much of the findings of the report.
Mr Hobby said: “There are some sensible recommendations here for an inspection system that helps to improve schools. The report is right to pinpoint quality and expertise as the decisive factors – inspection outcomes are currently too random and subjective, meaning good schools are uncertain as to what the team will be looking for. Teams don't always follow central guidance.
“Schools must be inspected by someone with relevant and recent experience. It is simply no good, for example, for a special school to be inspected by a non-specialist or early years to be inspected by a sixth form specialist.
“Frequent changes of inspection guidance - to reflect the priority of the day - do not help either teams or schools keep pace. The lack of an independent complaints process also damages credibility.
“We should remember that the vast majority of schools are good schools. We need a system of inspection which is proportionate to risk, with a lighter touch on those schools which are doing well. We are therefore pleased to see recognition in the report for schemes of peer review like NAHT's Instead project. The looming shadow of Ofsted dominates day-to-day thinking in far too many schools. It undermines their self-confidence and stifles innovation.
“Ultimately, we need inspection and we deserve high quality inspection. The alternative is a data-driven view of the world. Good inspection uses data but is not obsessed with it; it gets beneath the data to discover the reasons for high or low performance - spotting hidden risks and offering suggestions for improvement.
“We cannot continue as we are and the Policy Exchange report offers a number of helpful suggestions for a better way forward; a more intelligent approach to accountability.”
Page Published: 17/03/2014