by Tim Lezard Teaching unions have criticised Ofsted’s consultation into school inspections … the same day it opens. The NUT, which says it will be taking a “full and active” part in the consultation, says plans for shorter. sharper inspections for ‘go …

Ofstedby Tim Lezard

Teaching unions have criticised Ofsted’s consultation into school inspections … the same day it opens.

The NUT, which says it will be taking a “full and active” part in the consultation, says plans for shorter. sharper inspections for ‘good’ schools are a backward step, while ATL calls it a “missed opportunity”.

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “The education schools provide cannot be reduced to its headline examination results in a few core subjects. While we welcome the fact that there will be no routine no notice inspections what we need is a root and branch reform of the role of Ofsted

“The current system is resulting in many Heads and teachers unwilling to take on jobs in disadvantaged schools – afraid for their jobs as a result of poor inspections, afraid to take risks and be experimental. Schools are demanding increasing amounts of paperwork from teachers because they think that’s what inspectors want to see.

“Teachers’ working hours are through the roof – 60 hours a week according to the Department for Education’s own research. Time is wasted on paperwork for accountability, not on preparing exciting lessons for our children. It is these areas that the Government and Ofsted should be concerning themselves with.

“It is quite simple – Ofsted and its Chief Inspector have failed and it is high time this process which drives many good teachers and head teachers out of the profession ends. Trust must replace fear.”

ATL general secretary Mary Bousted said: “Ofsted has missed the opportunity for the major reform it promised, and that teachers and learners desperately need.

“ATL’s education manifesto calls for local inspections with Ofsted evaluating the robustness of these processes. Inspections which are designed locally and involve current classroom teachers would be respected, school circumstances would be better understood, and improvement plans would be relevant and effectively supported. Children would benefit from their teachers being less stressed and better able to concentrate on teaching and learning in the classroom.

“Ofsted’s proposed reforms fail to deal with quality assurance problems in its inspection regime, its deliberate attempts to lower teacher morale, and the fear it inflicts on school and college leaders. None of this helps teachers to do a better job, and too often it damages children’s education.

“The changes proposed are nowhere near radical enough. Ofsted doesn’t look like it knows what it wants. It has made substantial changes to school inspection frameworks or guidance on average twice every year since Michael Wilshaw became chief inspector in January 2012.

“Ofsted is heading in the right direction with some of the proposals and recent changes such as the decision to stop grading every individual lesson following a 20 minute observation, acknowledging the importance of children’s broad personal development, and the commitment to more professional dialogue between inspectors and those inspected. But the experience of teachers and leaders means they are deeply sceptical that Ofsted can do these things well or will do them fairly. It remains to be seen whether inspectors properly understand the challenges primary schools are facing with assessment or the impact of children’s backgrounds on how well they do at school.

“ATL believes it is right for schools to be held to account. Unfortunately we don’t have confidence that Ofsted in its current form has the ability or credibility to carry through the effective reform needed to ensure that schools are great places to teach and to learn.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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