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Structures, inspection and accountability


School leaders understand the need for public accountability. Parents, politicians and the wider public want to be sure that schools are doing their very best for the children they serve.

However, we also recognise that the current low-trust accountability system is based on a narrow range of measures that drive a range of perverse incentives and unintended consequences and that the current high-stakes inspection system all too often instils fear and stifles innovation. 

NAHT is committed to securing fairer methods and measures of accountability, so that pupils’ performance and school effectiveness are judged using a broad range of information, including the school's broader context and performance history, rather than a narrow focus on data.

Ensure published performance data are calculated and used fairly

  • Press the government to take action to ensure understanding across the sector of changes to primary progress data from 2020
  • Engage with the DfE to ensure that the reception baseline assessment is a valid baseline for progress 
  • Work with the DfE to ensure the methodology, publication and use of performance data is accurate, proportionate and appropriate.


Press for a transition from vertical high-stakes approach to accountability to a lateral system with greater ownership by the profession itself

  • Further develop, articulate and argue the case for a new approach to school accountability, building on NAHT's Commission, and working with other partners
  • Campaign against a hard accountability measure on exclusions
  • Make the case and lobby for a wholly independent complaints process for appeals against Ofsted inspection judgements
  • Lobby for the publication of all training materials for inspectors to ensure transparency and equity
  • Lobby Ofsted for greater transparency regarding the experience, skills and training of inspectors for specific phases and settings
  • Monitor members' experiences of the new inspection framework, holding Ofsted to account for the consistency, reliability and behaviour of inspectors, particularly around curriculum and the quality of education judgement.


Ensure any changes to school structures or systems benefit all pupils within a local community

  • Continue to oppose any form of forced academisation
  • Continue to oppose any expansion of grammar schools
  • Promote and advance local accountability, transparency and democracy in school structures and governance so that schools are best able to serve their wider local community
  • Make the case for centrally coordinated place planning to ensure all new school provision meets demand
  • Promote the full variety of school collaboration from Trusts to informal collaborations. 

Improving school accountability


Download the report here

NAHT will be launching ‘Improving School Accountability’ this morning (Friday 14 September) with an event at the Wellcome Trust.

The morning’s proceedings will include speeches from Carole Willis, Chief Executive of the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) and NAHT deputy general secretary Nick Brook, and will be followed by a panel discussion.

The speeches will start at 9.30am and you can follow the action on Twitter by heading over to @NAHTnews where we’ll be broadcasting the speeches live. Don’t forget to share your own thoughts on the discussion by using the hashtag #improvingaccountability

Scope of the review

Through its work, the accountability commission has sought to determine the strengths and weaknesses of the current accountability system through a:

  • review of published data and research on the effectiveness and impact of accountability arrangements in England,
  • consideration of testimony from expert witnesses to the commission.

The commission also considered alternative models of accountability through the:

  • review of international research of the impact of approaches taken in other countries,
  • consideration of transferability of approaches taken to hold professionals to account in other sectors, and
  • testing of alternative proposals against guiding principles, to identify benefits, trade-offs and potential negative consequences of change.

Following a review of the evidence and testimony, the accountability commission will be making recommendations to government.

Membership of the commission

Chair: Nick Brook, NAHT deputy general secretary

Vice-Chair: Sir Robin Bosher

Members: Professor Rebecca Allen, James Bowen, Marie-Claire Bretherton, Sam Butters, Sir Kevan Collins, Sam Freedman, Amanda Hulme, Emma Knights, Andy Mellor, Anne Lyons, Ross Morrison McGill, Dame Alison Peacock, Tim Sherriff, Michael Tidd and Carole Willis. 

For NAHT: Ian Hartwright  and Lydia Vye 

Download the report here    

First published 14 September 2018