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Whiteman: new Conservative plans for Ofsted will do more harm than good

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of NAHT, which represents leaders in the majority of schools, said: “Children only get one chance at an education, it is right that processes are in place to monitor the quality of education provided in every school and prompt action to improve where needed. Quite frankly, the stakes are too high not to.

“Today’s announcement by Boris Johnson is an acknowledgement that current inspection arrangements do not provide a fair and reliable judgement on school performance.

“Ofsted is indeed stretched and is undoubtedly spreading itself too thinly. However, the answer is not to do more of the same, in fact it is the precise opposite. Ofsted needs to focus its efforts on the small fraction of schools that are struggling to provide a good standard of education and offer a stronger diagnostic insight on what is going wrong, to help them improve more rapidly.

“For schools that are already good – the vast majority in this country – high stakes inspection has been shown to limit progress and stifle ambition, as schools are driven to spend more time on being ‘Ofsted-ready’ instead of improving teaching and learning.

“If we want more good schools to become great schools then we need to re-balance holding schools to account with helping them to improve. Schools in England are already amongst the most highly regulated in the world. These proposals will actually increase the likelihood that educational standards in England will become anchored to average, internationally.

“Inspection is already near no-notice, with the first inspection interviews taking place within a few hours of notification of inspection.  No-notice inspections will do more harm than good – they will result in more wasted time for inspectors, whilst arrangements are frantically put in place to meet their needs; they will be more disruptive and stressful to teachers and pupils; and will give zero additional insight in return.  

“Ofsted already has powers to conduct unannounced inspections where it is deemed to be necessary. It makes absolutely no sense to apply no-notice in situations where there is no good reason to do so.”

NAHT has identified five priorities for any party looking to form the next government:

  • A fully and fairly funded education system where the real-terms cuts since 2010 are reversed and there’s guaranteed long term investment
  • Great teachers and leaders in every class and every school with the support, development and reward to sustain a career in education 
  • Proportionate, reliable and fair inspection that schools and parents can have confidence in
  • A broad and balanced curriculum available to all pupils that gives children and young people different ways to show what they can do and properly prepares them for life
  • Timely and effective support from the services that children and families rely on so that all pupils get the help they need and achieve their potential



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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