Today (Tue 1 Dec), Ofsted publishes its Annual Report.
Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, which represents leaders in the majority of schools, said: “We are pleased Ofsted has stepped up to highlight the unsustainable pressure schools are under. NAHT has been alerting the government to this intolerable strain for some weeks. It is to be hoped that the Chief Inspector’s view will now persuade the government that it needs to bring immediate relief to an overburdened system.
“In short, Ofsted’s view is that the government expects too much of schools and offers them too little support. We agree.
“A significant step, which will bring some relief to school leaders, is the Chief Inspector’s comment that she does not intend to return to routine inspection in January. This is something that NAHT has consistently called for.
“Ofsted reports a school system that is performing very well. The vast majority of schools are rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’. And the Chief Inspector was at pains to say that schools are doing far more than they are often given credit for. But it also reveals the intolerable strain that system is under and which the challenges of Covid have only highlighted and exacerbated.
“School leaders have done everything possible to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on children, particularly the most vulnerable. Our members have ensured that schools meals continued; run food banks; flagged concerns about individual children to the services that can help them; identified and helped newly vulnerable families; washed clothes; and taken educational materials direct to families without adequate online access.
“It’s important to note that the main criticisms Ofsted levels in their report are really aimed at government, not at individual schools. Schools respond to the way government steers them – they are doing the best they can with the limited support the government gives them – it would be wrong to blame them for the negative consequences of failing government support.
“It should now be perfectly clear to government, if it wasn’t already, that more now needs to be done to improve things for the young people hit hardest by Covid.
“Of course additional investment is essential, but that alone will not do the job. This is about rebuilding the sources of support that these vulnerable children and families rely on: social care, health, youth services, and those in education – all need to be properly funded and resourced so they can work together effectively.
“By the time the next Ofsted Annual Report is published – and we are hopefully through the worst of Covid – it would be unforgivable if the government had allowed these problems to continue unaddressed now they’ve been so sharply exposed.”
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