Today the Office for Standards in Education, Children’s Services and Skills (Ofsted) launches a consultation on their new framework for school inspection.
Nick Brook, deputy general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, which represents leaders in the majority of schools, said: “In its current form, this proposal from Ofsted will cause widespread concern amongst school leaders. There's nothing here that will reduce stress and increase the reliability of judgements, which many say is sorely needed. This is not the game-changer that many have hoped for and some had predicted.
“Some of the things Ofsted are now heavily criticising schools for are of their own creation. It would be wrong for Ofsted to present themselves as blameless, but it would be equally wrong for us to object too strongly to their attempts to put this right now.
“However, this is a consultation, so a lot can change. We will be talking to our members to share what's in the new framework and encourage them to take part in the consultation. In the meantime, school leaders should keep calm and carry on with business as usual in their schools, doing what works and what they know to be right.”
NAHT’s Commission on Accountability produced it’s Improving School Accountability report in September, making nine recommendations for the future. Ofsted’s new framework needs to take account of these recommendations if it is going to be successful.
Mr Brook continued: “The test of any education system is how much progress pupils make, regardless of their circumstances. A child’s background, or family or postcode should not make a difference.
“We know that pupils who need the most help to succeed, get more from experienced and highly skilled professionals. But it is a fact that teachers and leaders are put off teaching in schools serving disadvantaged communities because they simply do not believe that they will be treated fairly by the inspectorate. Despite the desire of the Chief Inspector to address this we see little to suggest that these proposals go far enough to remove the disincentive to work in the most challenging schools.
“England has one of the most highly regulated education systems in the world, which is limiting schools’ ability to deliver a first-class education. If we want to compete with the very best countries in the world, we need to urgently rebalance holding schools to account with helping them to improve. With limited resources, the inspectorate should be focusing the majority of its time and energy on the small minority of schools that are struggling whilst maintaining a light touch approach to the majority of schools providing a good quality of education.
“It is welcome that the Chief Inspector plans to end Ofsted’s obsession with data and instead focus inspectors on what is taught and why. But as so much of what is proposed is open to interpretation, schools may be left second guessing what they are supposed to do to be seen as successful.
“Not only that, there is a very real risk that subjective views of inspectors will lead to inconsistent judgements. This makes it difficult for parents who want to be confident that the information that they are using to make important decisions about their children’s future is fair and comparable.”
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