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New report: ‘Ofsted’s new inspection framework – a change for the better?’

Today, (Friday 14 February) school leaders’ union NAHT publishes a new report detailing the emerging views of its members (who lead the majority of England’s schools) on inspections conducted under Ofsted’s new inspection framework between September and December 2019.


NAHT members say:


  • The new framework tries to do too much; inspectors cannot hope to fulfil its demands. Too often judgements are formed on a scant evidence base. 


  • Ofsted has adopted a secondary lens through which to judge the primary curriculum which is proving to be deeply problematic in primary schools. 


  • Ofsted’s curriculum methodology is driving new workload and demanding a model of curriculum management that schools do not have the capacity or resource to implement.


Paul Whiteman, NAHT’s general secretary, said: “Ofsted’s new inspection framework has climbed to the top of many school leaders’ agendas, even above funding in some cases. Our report aims to highlight schools’ concerns in a meaningful way. Ofsted has already responded with some alterations. Nevertheless, it is both possible and necessary to go further whilst the new framework is still in its early stages. We urge Ofsted to take this opportunity.”


Ofsted launched its new inspection framework in In September 2019. NAHT welcomed the overarching vision to reduce inspectors’ focus on pupil performance data and outcomes to take greater account of the breadth and balance of a school’s curriculum. However, we raised concerns about the way Ofsted intended to focus on curriculum design and delivery, through its new Quality of Education judgement.  We raised specific concerns about the impact of Ofsted’s secondary-based methodology on primary schools.


Our members’ feedback suggests that Ofsted’s new approach does not address the widely recognised negative impacts of high-stakes inspection and risks driving new and unnecessary workload for teachers and leaders which in turn undermines efforts to improve recruitment and retention.


NAHT represents more than 30,000 school leaders in early years, primary, secondary and special schools, making us the largest association for school leaders in the UK. At the end of the autumn term 2019 1,360 schools had been inspected under the new framework. The majority are led by NAHT members.


Mr Whiteman concluded: “We have discussed the findings of this report with Ofsted. It is clear that our views differ on how well the inspection framework has performed within the first term. Regardless, it is not in the interests of pupils that teachers and school leaders should be subjected to increased and unnecessary workload associated with inspection. Nor is it desirable that the high-stakes of inspection should be reinforced, as we know this drives good people from a profession which already struggles to recruit and retain both leaders and teachers. The only way to guarantee that inspection is fair and reliable is to take the views of these professionals into account.”


NAHT has also launched an ongoing survey which we are asking every member whose school is, or has been inspected since September 2019, to compete.  We are interested in hearing members’ feedback and experiences, both good and bad. 


Responses will give us a more detailed understanding of the experience of schools and will provide a wider evidence base for our continued discussions with the Secretary of State and the Chief Inspector.

Press and Media contacts:

Steven George
NAHT Head of Press and Media
01444 472886
07970 907730

Rose Tremlett 
Senior Press Officer 
07545 354363

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