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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. 

Ofsted's July inspection update includes clarification on 'tracking' primary subjects

Ofsted's latest school inspection update contains clarification for inspectors on a number of inspection areas.  (Read the full update here.)

'Tracking' achievement in subjects in primary schools

The update confirms that "schools will not be marked down because they are not 'tracking' science and foundation subjects in the same ways they may be doing so in English and mathematics."

Ofsted has made clear to inspectors that the use of the term 'tracking' in inspection reports is "problematic because it can suggest some form of numerical data is required, when there is no such requirement, even in English and mathematics".The update also contains the following:

  • Information on the revised inspection timings for good, requires improvement and inadequate schools (previously shared with our members)
  • Guidance about what inspectors should do where they identify safeguarding concerns about children absent from school
  • Guidance on what should be looked at on inspection from September 2018 regarding the English Baccalaureate (EBacc) in schools
  • Information on the Department for Education's newly published guidance on gender separation in mixed schools
  • Guidance on focusing on groups of pupils on inspection
  • Clarification on inspecting religious education (RE) and collective worship
  • A reminder about early years staffing ratios
  • Guidance on informing governors about an inspection
  • Information on school performance data systems − third-party suppliers
  • Guidance on changes to statutory assessment for key stages one and two.

First published 09 July 2018

First published 09 July 2018