by Tim Lezard Unions have turned up the pressure on the government to scrap Ofsted. Their calls come as the Local Government Association (LGA) today says an independent review should be carried out on the organisation. ATL education policy advisor Adri …

Ofstedby Tim Lezard

Unions have turned up the pressure on the government to scrap Ofsted.

Their calls come as the Local Government Association (LGA) today says an independent review should be carried out on the organisation.

ATL education policy advisor Adrian Prandle said:“How much longer can the government, and all political parties, resist the calls for an independent review of Ofsted? It is a failing inspection system that does nothing to help schools improve and damages children’s education.

“The LGA has rightly flagged up the lack of consistency and credibility of Ofsted inspections which it does not appear able to solve.

“The current inspection regime makes it hard for teachers and leaders to focus on what’s best for their pupils and to innovate. And children suffer from the stress on staff and instability of changeable inspection criteria as Ofsted follows the latest political fads.

“ATL argues that there should be a self-improving education system, with locally-developed inspections led by professionals and experts who know the challenges and opportunities schools face in their area and encourage schools to collaborate to provide the best education for young people. Ofsted’s national role should be limited to oversee the robustness of these new local arrangements.

“We firmly believe that schools should be held to account, but it is imperative that inspection supports, not damages, pupil’s learning and development.”

NUT general secretary Christine Blower said: “The NUT’s Annual Conference in 2013 overwhelmingly voted for the abolition of Ofsted. The inspectorate no longer has the confidence of the teaching profession, and it is hard to recall a time when it ever did.

“In this regard we are prepared to support an independent review, but nothing short of Ofsted’s abolition and replacement will be a sufficient outcome.

“In Ofsted’s place, we need a new system of school accountability and school improvement. This should be based on school self-evaluation, with collaboration and support between schools.  Where additional support is required, this must be approached along the lines of the London Challenge – a proven means to raise standards in the capital’s schools on a long-term and sustainable basis.

“The current inspection system distorts teaching and learning as schools seek to satisfy an ever-changing set of requirements and expectations by Ofsted. There are serious concerns too about the standards of the inspectors themselves and the questionable reliability of the judgements they make. Moreover we have had outrageous conflicts of interest in which some Ofsted inspectors have simultaneously had links to academy chains and/or have been contracted to work as academy brokers at the same time as they have been inspecting schools.

“Ofsted, quite simply, is fatally flawed. Those who create its replacement must take the profession with them.”


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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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