Heads question Ofsted’s success over standards

SCHOOL leaders have announced plans to inspect the inspectors after raising concerns that the new Ofsted regime will drive some head teachers out of the profession.

The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) is calling on schools to report their experiences of Ofsted inspections through a website that went live yesterday, at the start of their annual conference in Harrogate

The School View site is described as an attempt to “capture the real picture” of what happens during school inspections.

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The union said it plans to present evidence to Ofsted that the quality of inspections vary and that the watchdog should be more focused on “helping schools improve rather than simply criticising them”.

The NAHT has also revealed that a poll of more than 2,000 school leaders, shows almost half – 45.3 per cent – believe that Ofsted makes no contribution to, or actively prevented, standards being raised.

Just two per cent said Ofsted “drives improvement and raises standards” while 16.9 per cent said it helps schools raise standards and a third thought that it solely ensures that schools comply with the basics.

Some 98.1 per cent believe that Ofsted judgments are subject to political interference and nine in 10 are either unhappy or very unhappy about the tone and content of recent announcements by the watchdog.

Ofsted has announced plans to introduce no-notice inspections for all schools, and to scrap the “satisfactory” rating and replace it with “requires improvement”.

The poll also found that recent Ofsted announcements have left nearly two fifths - 39 per cent of heads - feeling discouraged and wishing to leave the profession earlier than planned, while 3.4 per cent plan to leave immediately.

NAHT general secretary Russell Hobby said: “Schools must be accountable for their work and, where there are problems, leaders need robust external feedback to help them improve. But the quality of Ofsted inspections is far too variable, too subjective.

“Pupils, parents and teachers deserve better than a roll of the dice for the result. Frequent changes of the inspection framework mean that even the inspectors themselves struggle to keep up. There are fair-minded, expert inspectors out there, but we need far more. Ofsted wants a ‘no excuses’ culture - well that applies to them too.”

An Ofsted spokeswoman said: “Everyone who inspects for Ofsted is highly trained and experienced.

“Through our quality assurance process we strive to achieve consistency across our reports whilst giving inspectors scope to exercise their professional judgment.

“We are always happy to engage with the NAHT about our work and agree that rigorous performance management is essential in any organisation.”

Another poll published today by the social mobility charity the Sutton Trust has revealed a majority of teachers questioned favour performance-related pay.

Just over half felt that teachers should be awarded salary scale points annually, unless they are judged to have performed poorly. A further 23 per cent felt scale points should only be awarded to teachers who are judged to have performed well.