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Calls for new school inspection system

today03/04/2024

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Calls for new school inspection system

More than four out of five teachers in England believe a new system of inspection should be introduced.

A survey claims Ofsted has “many problems”.

The majority of teachers (90%) said they do not believe single-word judgments are a fair reflection of the performance of a school.

A poll, of more than 4,500 National Education Union (NEU) teacher members in state schools in England, suggests 62% feel the inspection system causes them mental ill-health and 59% say it affects their home life.

The findings were released on the first day of the NEU’s annual conference in Bournemouth.

Teachers will vote on whether the NEU, the largest teaching union in the UK, should lobby political parties ahead of the next general election to endorse its campaign to “replace Ofsted”.

A motion, due to be debated on Wednesday, says the union should support members in “balloting for, and taking, strike action” when “mocksteds”, deep-dives and excessive workload have arisen through Ofsted pressures.

It comes after Ofsted has come under greater scrutiny after the suicide of headteacher Ruth Perry.

Mrs Perry took her own life after an Ofsted report downgraded her Caversham Primary School in Reading, Berkshire, from its highest rating to its lowest over safeguarding concerns.

Professor Julia Waters, the sister of Mrs Perry, is due to address the NEU’s annual conference on Friday.

The survey, carried out between February 6 and 20, suggests only 3% of teachers believe Ofsted acts as a “reliable and trusted arbiter of standards” and just 4% believe it acts independently of Government.

More than four in five (82%) agreed with a statement that said Ofsted has so many problems that it “would be better to start afresh with a new system of inspection”.

One respondent said: “Ofsted has created toxic environments, resulting in damaging pressure on staff and ending the careers of excellent staff.”

Another respondent, who cried after speaking to an Ofsted inspector in the last academic year, said: “I was absolutely petrified that I would say something wrong and let the school and my colleagues down.

“I felt so stressed and overwhelmed by the process.”

Last month, Sir Martyn Oliver, chief inspector of Ofsted, launched the watchdog’s Big Listen public consultation which will seek views about Ofsted.

In his first major speech since becoming chief inspector in January, Sir Martyn said he wanted to “mark a new chapter” with the sector, adding that “nothing is off the table”.

Daniel Kebede, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: “Ofsted is out of touch and out of favour. As this survey shows, the inspectorate’s reputation has worsened since we last sought members’ views in 2022.

“No amount of rebranding will eradicate the entrenched view that Ofsted’s days are numbered. If it ever commanded respect, those days are now long gone.

“Single-word judgments are destructive and wrong, and our members agree. But the faults of Ofsted run much deeper. There are serious wellbeing concerns, brought to stark public attention last year.

“We know that Ofsted has been forced into a listening exercise because of that tragedy, but the NEU and its membership do not believe this will lead to fundamental change.”

Mr Kebede added: “Only root-and-branch reform can bring an end to the tyranny of inspection.”

An Ofsted spokesman said: “We inspect schools on behalf of children and their parents, but we are very mindful of the pressures on school staff.

“We have already made several changes to inspection over the last year, focused on school leaders’ and staff welfare. But we have promised to go further to strengthen confidence in our work.

“That’s why we launched our Big Listen last month. We’re asking parents, children, heads, teachers and other professionals to help shape the way we work in future and make sure all children have the best possible education and life chances.”

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Our plan to ensure every child benefits from a world-class education is working with 90% of schools now judged to be good or outstanding, up from 68% in 2010.

“Ofsted is central to driving forward that improvement. Their independent inspections are vital to ensuring children are safe in school, parents are informed, and the department is able to intervene where strictly necessary.

“We have worked closely with Ofsted to ensure inspections are conducted with professionalism and compassion. We are supporting Sir Martyn Oliver’s work through the Big Listen, to hear from parents, teachers and education experts to understand where more improvements can be made.”

Published: by Radio NewsHub

Written by: Radio News Hub


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