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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. 

KS4 and 16-18 performance data 2022

NAHT have held a clear position that no data from tests or qualifications in 2022 should be published and have pressed this position from the very initial discussions with the Department for Education.

However, in July 2021 the government confirmed their approach to performance data in 2022.

In summary:

  • Key Stage 2: Data will not be published in Key Stage 2 performance tables in the academic year 2021 to 2022. The normal suite of KS2 accountability measures at school level would be produced and shared with primary schools, academy trusts, local authorities and Ofsted.
  • Key stage 4 and post-16: Results from qualifications achieved in 2021 to 2022 will be published on school and college performance tables, using the normal suite of accountability measures as far as that is possible. This data will also be shared through ASP and with Ofsted as in a normal year.

Since that announcement, NAHT have continued to lobby hard and ensure our views have been heard strongly at every opportunity and at all levels, from civil servants to the secretary of state for education.  

The secretary of state for education wrote to our general secretary today, and although the government have not reversed their decision to publish, we have achieved some significant shifts in the approach to the use of this data (which also apply to KS2) and some important changes to the presentation of the data on the Compare School and College Performance website.

Use of the data

On use of the data the DfE accountability guidance says:

We recognise the uneven impact on schools and colleges of the pandemic, and will ensure clear messages are placed on performance measures website to advise caution when considering the 2021/22 data.

This will include strongly discouraging all users of the data from drawing comparisons with performance data from previous years.

We will also advise caution when comparing a school’s performance with national or local authority averages, advising users to talk to the school or college to understand the context for the results.

We will also strongly advise against direct comparisons between the performance data for one school or college and another school or college, without taking this broader context into account.

Inspectors will be clear that 2021/22 data is not comparable with earlier years and aware of the caveats on the data due to the changes to the methodology outlined in this document and the uneven impact of the pandemic on pupils and schools.

Changes to the Compare School and College Performance (CSCP) website for the 2021/22 academic year

To support appropriate use of the 2021/22 data, DfE plan to make changes to the performance measures website and the way they present school and college level data for 2021/22. They will be carrying out further work and testing over the coming months on these changes for this year, which will include:

  • removing the “all schools and colleges in England” and local authority comparison tables (they will continue to show local authority and national averages for each performance measure on the individual school or college pages, and data on all schools/colleges and local authorities will still be available to download from the website),
  • changing the name of the website to reduce the emphasis on comparison between institutions,
  • stopping displaying pre-pandemic data (2018/19 and earlier) on the school/college pages and move these data to the usual archive with a link on the website and
  • changing the way they present progress measures, by removing the coloured “bandings” to discourage simplistic conclusions being drawn about a school or college’s overall performance.

You can read the guidance in full using the links below.

First published 22 June 2022